The RX has been a best-seller for Lexus and previous generations have sold a colossal 3.5 million units plus worldwide hence, the Japanese luxury brand had approached the vehicle‘s new 5th generation version with restraint. The new RX carries on the comfort-oriented vibe which all previous models used to exude, along with strengthening the line-up with more hybrid powertrains including a complicated new turbo-petrol hybrid combination.
However, the debate regarding the new RX is instantly sparked by its radical ‘Spindle grille’ design. Unlike the ginormous grille on the new LX, the RX is a lot more restrained but does look radical with the top-half of the grille being body-coloured. It certainly looks interesting in images and does somewhat add a polarising element to an otherwise ‘safe’ design. Elsewhere, the nose is shaper along with slimmer headlamps and a wider lower bumper. The new RX does look less of an SUV now and more of a performance estate with its lowered roofline while the larger wheels of the F-Sport version do somewhat ramp up its glamour quotient.
The interior is perhaps the biggest strength of the new RX as it moves beyond the old infuriating trackpad and instead plonks in a 14-inch touchscreen. The new touchscreen unit is huge and has a crisp touch response along with being bundled with all of the usual tech that you expect from an SUV of this class. Other factors worth mentioning is the sheer quality of the materials being used to the craftsmanship being visible all across the cabin. Vegan leather-free interiors are also offered along with a suite of luxury features like customizable ambient lighting, a new 21-speaker Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound audio, automatic door latches and advanced driver-assist features. A longer wheelbase affords a more spacious cabin with enhanced legroom for rear-seat passengers and increased seat distance.
Coming back to the powertrains and the RX 500h performance hybrid stands out for its sportier focus where the hybrid architecture includes a 2.4-litre turbo engine and a 6-speed automatic transmission. The last bit is crucial as the new gearbox is different when compared to the usual E-CVTs that we get from Lexus hybrids and that could signal a more enthusiast-friendly driving experience. Combined power output is rated at 371hp while it also gets the fancy Direct4 all-wheel-drive system from its RZ 450e stablemate. Other options include an RX 450h+ plug-in hybrid and either an RX 350h hybrid or an RX 350 petrol. Lexus has also overhauled the suspension and needless to say, the new RX also gets permanent all-wheel drive.
We expect the new RX to make its debut around the middle of next year and prices will inevitably see a hefty increase from the current version. That said, the vast amount of new technology on board plus the sleek new design and the enhanced hybrid powertrain line-up will continue to make the RX a strong left-field alternative to the German luxury SUVs.