It’s no surprise that the Lexus RX series is the best-selling model in the extensive lineup of Toyota’s luxury division. For so many buyers of luxury SUVs, it’s just the right size – neither too small for family usage nor too large to create parking and maneuverability challenges in urban areas.
Another big selling point is that there are no less than nine model and trim combinations and to top off the package, buyers can opt for hybrid or conventional gasoline-only powertrains. The current model appeared in 2016, but there have been year-by-year updates ever since and a fair number for the 2018 model year. There’s a new navigation package available and several performance-biased F Sport additions have been added to the roster.
The RX follows Lexus’ current “chiseled” design language with lots of bold, angular surfaces. Sharp creases abound on the various panels and the tooling for the RX bodywork must have presented some serious challenges to the engineering team. As usual with Lexus, they’ve pulled off the look the stylists were seeking with a great deal of panache. Lexus says the sculptured bodywork minimizes drag, reduces noise, and enhances stability at high speeds. The headlamps and the brake lights are LED for maximum effect when night driving.
Lexus has a great reputation for luxurious interiors and this latest RX reflects that in every corner. Everything fits beautifully and the materials are first-rate. The ambiance inside this Lexus SUV is as good as anything you’ll find, even in the luxury class. Having soft-touch materials on just about every panel has a great effect on the occupants and reinforces the upscale feel of the vehicle. From what I’ve seen of Lexus vehicles on the used market, this luxury lasts too and its rare to find even an older Lexus that doesn’t look good inside. Consequently, Lexus prices on the used market hold up very well and there are no ‘cheapies’ out there. The same can be said of the bodywork, especially in BC where the salting of roads in winter is not as extensive as it is in the east.
The RX 350 has a familiar Lexus powerplant under the hood – a 3.5-litre V-6 developing 295-horsepower. The engine links up with a sequential shift mode 8-speed automatic transmission and it’s very slick and smooth-shifting. Opt for the RX 450h hybrid and you get a 3.5-litre Atkinson cycle V-6 which functions with a powerful, high-torque, electric motor to provide impressive economy and very praiseworthy response. The engine/electric motor combo delivers 308, horsepower, but when driving, it seems like there are even more horses on tap, thanks to the torque the electric motor adds. The hybrid works with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that is a good match for the hybrid setup. Regardless of drive system, all RX models have a mode select control. This offers Eco, Normal and Sport S to match the road conditions or the driver’s needs. The hybrid can be driven for brief distances on electricity alone.
All RX models have active torque all-wheel drive, which has the ability to distribute torque to wherever it’s needed when the weather turns nasty. Systems like this, and they are offered by most manufacturers in this class, are perfect for the average driver because no action is required at all. The all-wheel drive system takes care of everything as soon as lack of adhesion is detected.
Like all Lexus vehicles nowadays (and those of most rivals) the RX has a lengthy list of electronic safety systems that enhance occupant security. Blind spot monitoring,rear cross traffic alert, ABS with brake assist, pedestrian detection and several other systems add up to a very safe and secure SUV. The options list is extensive indeed, but anyone deciding to buy an RX will be able to get exactly what he or she wants, or keep things to a bare, though luxurious, minimum.
SPECS AT A GLANCE…
BODY STYLE: 5-occupant midsize SUV
ENGINE: 3.5-litre V-6 or with hybrid powertrain
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed auto/CVT
TOWING CAPACITY: 3,500 lbs.
FUEL ECONOMY: Approx. 8-litres/100 km combined (hybrid)
PRICE: RX prices start at $56,500