Lexus fourth-gen RX lineup gets aggressive looksPOSTED BY Nigel Andretti ON 07 April 2015
MORE than 15 years since it first appeared, the trend-setting Lexus RX line has received a makeover.
When it arrived in 1998, it practically invented the luxury crossover-utility segment, and in 2005, it became the first vehicle of its type offered with a hybrid powertrain.
Lexus has been bullish on the RX Hybrid ever since and a hybrid model is once again a part of the fourth generation RX lineup revealed at the ongoing New York Motor Show.
The 2016 RX adopts more-aggressive styling, similar to that of the compact NX crossover, with a large “spindle” grille and angular sides that look like they could be used to grate cheese.
That new bodywork conceals a chassis that uses significant amounts of aluminum to save weight, although Lexus isn’t discussing specific figures.
The chassis itself is related to that of the current-generation Toyota Highlander.
Unlike the Toyota, the RX will launch with seating for five only, but a seven-seat option may appear later for the first time in the model’s history, Green Cars Report says.
Despite the dramatically-different body, the 2016 RX 450h hybrid powertrain appears largely unchanged from the current model’s.
The RX 450h still employs a 3.5-litre Atkinson-cycle petrol V-6 and the two-motor Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive system for propulsion in front-wheel drive applications.
Lexus estimates total system output at around 300 horsepower, while the current model makes exactly 295 hp.
An all-wheel drive version with an additional electric motor powering the rear wheels is scheduled to join the lineup not long after its launching.
The non-hybrid 2016 RX 350 features a standalone 3.5-litre V-6 with the same 300-hp output as the hybrid, coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission and either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
The interior also gets an update to bring it in line with current Lexus design conventions, meaning less wood trim and more technology.
That includes an optional head-up display and 12.3-inch screen in front, as well as a rear-seat entertainment system with dual 11.6-inch screens mounted to the backs of the front headrests.
The 2016 RX also features the new Lexus Safety System+, which bundles several electronic aids, including Lane-Departure Alert, Automatic High Beam, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, and a Pre-Collision System.
Parent Toyota introduced its own version of the package — dubbed Toyota Safety Sense — on its 2016 RAV4 Hybrid in New York.
The new RX will be a crucial model for Lexus. The current version provides close to half of the brand’s US sales.