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Lexus fourth-gen RX lineup gets aggressive looks

POSTED 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.

The fourth generation  Lexus RX line ... more aggressive styling for the range.

The fourth generation Lexus RX line … more aggressive styling for the range.

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.

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