Lexus RX reinvented

Lexus RX reinvented

Apr 15, 2015

Lexus RX reinvented

What's new?

The Lexus RX is a vital model in terms of sales for the Japanese luxury carmaker, so here's the fourth-generation, revealed at the New York International Auto Show (NYIAS).

Outside

No surprises that the RX has adopted the angular, mean-faced look of the smaller NX SUV, with creases everywhere and a huge 'spindle' grille on display. It works pretty well, as there are some interesting details to behold - none more so than the blacked-out C-pillar, which gives the impression of the RX's roof floating when viewed in profile. LED lights are incorporated everywhere (including for the daytime running lights and foglamps), dual integrated exhaust pipes can be seen at the back and there are two wheel sizes: 18- or 20-inch.

The F Sport trim will also be offered on the new RX, which features specific  20-inch alloys, an 'F-mesh' design for the spindle grille and some subtle body modifications.

Inside

Again taking its cues from the NX, the RX's cabin has trim that has been laser-cut by Yamaha to make it all feel suitably classy and upmarket. There's an optional colour heads-up display, while cars specified with satnav get a 12.3-inch monitor situated above the centre stack. Lexus says rear-seat occupants now have more leg- and kneeroom, while the second row of chairs splits 60:40 and folds away electrically. Occupants in the back can toast their backsides on heated seats, while specifying rear-seat entertainment brings in 11.6-inch dual screens fixed to the front head restraints.

Anyone opting for F Sport gets a custom instrument cluster with a TFT Multi Information Display (MID), a sport steering wheel with perforated leather trim, F Sport logos and paddleshifts.

Under the bonnet

This bit of the announcement from Lexus is confusing - there are two models, the RX 350 and the RX 450h, both employing a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine (the 450's runs on the more efficient Atkinson cycle)... but power on both is quoted as 300hp. This is odd because the 'h' in the 450's name denotes hybrid, meaning this RX has an electric motor supplementing the combustion engine, so we'd expect it to have more power and torque. We'll be interested to see how this one progresses.

Lexus claims the chassis and body are stiffer on the new RX, meaning it should be a tidy handler. Vehicle Stability Control is standard fit, while upgrades seen on out-and-out sports cars like the RC F make their way into the big SUV, such as Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) and Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS). The carmaker is also making a big deal of Lexus Safety System+, which bundles a load of driver assist technologies (Pre-Collision System, Lane Departure Alert, Lane Keep Assist, Automatic High Beam and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control) into the RX. There are more software aids available as options, too, including Adaptive High-beam System, Panoramic View Monitor and Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

How important is the RX?

Here's a stat - Lexus has been around for 26 years. And in that time, with 2.1 million units shifted, the RX represents 30 per cent of all the vehicles ever sold by Lexus. So getting this one right is absolutely crucial to the future success of the brand.