The Lexus RX is the brand’s best seller here, and the all-new model has been on the ground for a couple of months now. Supply is still constrained for the luxury Japanese brand however, and it has an allocation of just 300 RXs this year. Around half of those are already spoken for or have been delivered. Like its parent company Toyota, Lexus is holding a decent bank of forward orders for its model range, which it hopes to deliver this year as it looks to crack 1500 annual sales. That would represent a 50 per cent growth on the numbers it delivered last year. And that’s in a market where the big three German brands are down on market share. Helping the Lexus cause is electrification.
Lexus has been on this journey for a while, its first hybrid was the RX back in 2006, and the brand has since sold 2.2 million electrified models globally. Last year, 82 per cent of its sales here were of electrified models. And so it’s not hard to fathom that the new RX line up is all hybrid.
How much is the Lexus RX again?
There are four models starting with the RX 350h at $120,900. The 350h Limited is $131,900 and you can add an ‘Enhancement Pack’ to this for a further $4000. And then there is the new RX 500h F Sport Performance at $142,900.
No more V6?
The fifth-gen RX now uses a fourth-gen hybrid set-up, both models using a 2.4-litre four cylinder but are otherwise quite different. The 350’s four runs on the Atkinson cycle making 140kW and 239Nm while the 500 gets a turbocharged version spitting out 202kW and 460Nm. Both run a dual motor hybrid system, the 350 with a 134kW/270Nm unit upfront, and a 40kW/121Nm unit at the rear. The 500 has a 64kW/292Nm motor up front with 75kW/168Nm on the rear. After these weird and wonderful combinations are processed by their transmissions, the combined output for the 350 is 184kW while the 500 makes 273kW.
Other distinct differences include the transmission; an e-CVT for the 350, while the 500 gets a six-speed auto. Both are AWD thanks to the motor on the rear axle, but the 500 has a more sophisticated traction control system called Direct4 to better ground the power and direct the flow of torque. The 500 also has dynamic rear wheel steering (which also helps reduce the turning circle). Both have a nickel metal hydride battery sited under the rear seat, the 500 with a slightly bigger pack. Vitals for the 350 read 0-100km/h in 7.9sec, average consumption (WLTP) is 6.0L/100km with emission of 137g/km. Those for the 500 are 6.2sec, 7.2L/100km and 165g/km. That latter figure means it will cop a fee of $1437.50 come July 1, while the 350 is neutral. Each has a 2000kg braked tow rating.
How do they drive?
The RX has never tried to out sport the X5, and that’s still the case. Even the 500 F Sport isn’t what you deem particularly sporty, but it’s well sorted and is more interesting than the 350h. It has less of that hybrid feel about its power delivery without the eCVT contraption. This has a more conventional feel to it, and a better response. Power on and it’s more surefooted than the 350h with its Direct4 AWD sorting the traction and pulling you through the bend.
The steering isn’t bad either though more of a connection would be good for something with an F Sport badge. We couldn’t really feel the help from the rear wheel steer on the roads we drove down on the big island. It’s quick enough but not fast, the 2.7 tonnes of mass sees to that. Guess it’s all that quality. A fake engine tune is more amusing than enthralling.
The 350 does cruise the highway well, road noise suppressed while the power delivery is smooth, torquey. It’s just easy, which is what the RX appeal has always been, we guess.
One of the new safety features is a very persistent driver monitoring system, always on your case it is. We admit to gazing a little longingly at the great Southern landscapes, and it was just doing its job. It can be turned off we are told. And you will want to. At least the lane keeping systems aren’t as busy.
Stylish inside and out
The RX certainly does look swish, the new take on the Lexus grille we prefer as it’s less OTT and therefore more intriguing this time around. It all looks slightly more dynamic, but in a fashionable sense.
The cabin is a nice place to retreat to. It’s all very well crafted in here, lined with quality trims. You can’t stop running a finger over the inviting surfaces. The big screen is operated via touch or voice with a Hey Lexus servant (the awful old trackpad has been banished), and there are digital dials and a helpful head up display. Much of the stuff first seen on the NX is here too with the electric latch doors and a similar design to the dash. The seats are good too with plenty of adjustment to boot. Speaking of, the hold is decent too at 612L while there’s enough room in the rear.
Anything else you need to know?
There’s also the big Lexus after sales care package with four years of warranty and service cover with no mileage limit. And it’s transferable too if you sell it on. Learn more here