New Lexus RX SUV to start at $73,000
STAND back or dare to step forward declares the ad for the new Lexus R line just before base jumper Jeb Corlis takes the plunge but like the daring adventurist this is hardly a leap of faith for the luxury Japanese brand more a studied considered approach … and ok, with a shot of adrenaline thrown in for good measure.
The LX range has been Lexus's top seller since it arrived here in 2003, its cash cow so to speak, with more than 30,000 units finding their way to buyers. But it is only now that the NX - released earlier this year - is making its mark in the small luxury SUV market that the NX can concentrate its focus on the medium segment, incidentally the fastest growing market, instead of straddling the line.
Lexus has wasted little time in responding to that proposition with power and an updated RX line that looks significantly different than its predecessor and drives that way too. This fourth generation edition features the RX 200t, RX 350 and RX 450h variants in varying grade levels.
The 200t, may be the entry to this club but spares little in terms of luxury. It is powered by the same turbo-charged 2.0-litre unit that drives the NX, and paired with a six-speed automatic transmission, the combination offering up 175kW and 350Nm.
The RX 350 - available in Luxury, F Sport or Sports Luxury - features an upgraded 3.5-litre direct injection V6 that offers up 221kW and 370Nm, more power and torque than the outgoing model.
The hybrid RX 450h completes the range with a combined system power of 230kW. Like the RX 350 it is offered in three grades with drive to all four wheels.
This new RX range is instantly recognisable with the cutting edge styling and oversized spindle grille turning heads. The idea, says Deputy Chief Engineer Makato Tanaka, was to have a car that exceeded the outgoing RX but retained some familiarity.
"We wanted to make a statement, to exceed expectations," he said. "We wanted to give customers a car that was familiar but gave a more engaging drive and was even more luxurious. With this RX we have given buyers an outstanding styling proposition without sacrificing appeal."
Aside from more space and improvement in overall comfort levels, Lexus has also boosted safety features with the availability of the Pre-Collision Safety System, reversing camera on all models, wide-view side camera and parking sensors.
Price is always an interesting yardstick in this segment and with the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GLE and Audi Q5 as competitors, Lexus makes no apologies for increases of $7000 to $13,000 on the outgoing model.
"When you compare this car to rivals in the medium segment this is an incredibly good value specification for customers," said Lexus Australia chief executive Sean Hanley.
"It is bigger, performs better and it comes with very generous levels of specification."
2016 Lexus RX pricing (plus ORCs):
RX 200t - $73,000
RX 350 Luxury - $80,000
RX 350 F Sport - $92,000
RX 350 Sports Luxury - $98,000
RX 450h Luxury - $88,000
RX 450h F Sport - $100,000
RX 450h Sports Luxury - $106,000