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Lexus RX receives a mid-life makeover

13 November 2019

(Photo by Cornel van Heerden)

Lexus has given its RX SUV range a thorough makeover.

From a design perspective the changes include a new rendition of the signature Lexus grille, slimmer and sharper headlights, more rounded edges to the re-sculpted front bumper; and an extended line from the rocker panel (located on the sides of vehicle between front and rear wheel openings) that connects with the bottom of the grille, projecting strength and stability.

Moving to the rear, a more cohesive and powerful look has been created with a redesigned lower bumper that links smoothly to the rear wings. Elements such as the lights, reflectors, underguard and exhaust outlets are arranged on a strong horizontal axis to emphasise the vehicle’s width and sense of purpose, while new LED combination lights have been changed to a new mirrored L-motif design that contributes to greater brand recognition.

All models come standard with 20-inch alloy wheels (all-new design for the EX and F Sport variants) and electrically-operated sunroof.

The old infotainment system has been removed and replaced with a new 12.3-inch display featuring touchscreen functionality. To accommodate this new feature, the screen has been moved further forward on the centre console, giving a wider viewing angle and placing it within easy reach of the driver and front passenger. The multimedia functions can of course also be operated using a new trackpad version of Lexus’s Remote Touch Interface, or with voice control, replacing the old button-activated system.

The new RX also provides seamless smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Voice control can also be enabled via Apple’s Siri or Google Assistant if using an Android device. This is complemented by an additional four USB ports.

MyLexus (identical features to MyToyota) gives access to connected services via a dedicated app, while the RX is equipped as standard with an on-board WiFi hotspot with an initial complimentary 15GB data plan (with the option to purchase additional data at any time).

The third-row seats of the RX L now feature two different seating positions, they add even more leg space (+94mm) when the situation demands. Second row seats are now also electrically-adjustable – even for passenger access.

When it comes to standard comfort, convenience and tech features, it’s a veritable feast in the new Lexus RX – ranging from steering-wheel mounted paddle shifts, an ambient lighting package and wireless charger to a 15-speaker Mark Levinson sound system (F Sport & Hybrid) and Head-Up Display (Hybrid).

While all models in the range boast an LED adaptive high-beam system (AHS), the Hybrid version of the new RX debuts a ground-breaking world-first – AHS with BladeScan technology.

Compared with existing technology that points LED lamps towards the road, the new technology directs the lamps back towards a blade mirror rotating at 12 000rpm.

Blade-scan technology utilises the reflection of light off the mirror to increase high-beam brightness and expand its reach down the road. It also more finely controls light distribution to achieve the most precise “shading” to avoid dazzling other drivers.

Typical adaptive high-beam technology uses LED lamps directed at the road, which switch on and off as individual chips that can shade fixed portions of the road.

With blade-scan technology, LED lamps switch on and off in 50 microseconds while synchronising with the blade mirror, which spins on high rotation to deliver immediate response, reduce the width of the shaded area and provide a greater spread of illumination.

For the first time in SA, the RX line-up now includes a bespoke F Sport version in the guise of the RX 350 F Sport.

Featuring more aggressive exterior styling comprising an F Sport-exclusive front fascia, mesh grille insert, front-fender and rear valance, this athletic RX also sports polished black outside mirrors paired with brazen 20-inch split 10-spoke alloy wheels in a dark granite finish.

The bold F Sport perspective is obvious throughout the driver-centric interior too. In addition to exclusive race-inspired instrumentation and bold aluminium accents, you’ll find performance upgrades, including bolstered sport seats, a black headliner, a perforated leather–trimmed sport steering wheel and shift knob, plus aluminium pedals and more. Signature race-inspired F Sport bolstered seats provide the ideal posture, control and visibility for enhanced driving performance. Featuring a unique foam-injected construction and designed to contour to the needs of the driver, their low position helps place the driver’s hip point as close as possible to the car’s centre of gravity, for a more dynamic driving experience. The LFA-inspired digital gauge cluster provides real-time information such as G-force metrics and power distribution.

The F Sport kit is however more than just skin-deep; in addition to inheriting the new Lexus Safety System+, which it now shares with the flagship Hybrid model, it also boasts the same Adaptive Variable Suspension found in the high-performance Lexus LC that allows you to customise the shock absorber settings for improved ride comfort or reduced body lean as you enter and exit turns. And to help provide the highest level of responsiveness, the F Sport offers exclusive drive modes: Sport S+ mode enhances steering and adjusts the Adaptive Variable Suspension, while Custom mode allows you to personalise everything from road feel to responsiveness.

Petrol variants are equipped with the Lexus 3.5-litre V6 engine featuring direct and port fuel injection for ample grunt and efficient fuel economy. Combined with a quick-shifting eight-speed transmission, and delivering 221 kW and 370Nm (RX 350) or 216 kW and 358 (RX 350 L), both models offer dynamic performance at every curve.

The RX450h boasts the potent 3.5-litre V6 engine paired with powerful electric motors and an electronically-controlled Continuously Variable Transmission for a combined 230 kW total system output. This equates to a 0-100km/h sprint time of 7.7 seconds and ultra-low emissions (131g/km).

The Lexus RX models retail from R1012 000 for the EX grade and R1087 000 for the RX 350 EX L. The RX 350 F Sport model retails for R1 132 200 while the top of the range, RX 450 h SE, is available for R1 315 800. The entire RX range boasts a Lexus best-in-class 7-year/105 000km Warranty and Full Maintenance Plan. (The warranty on the hybrid battery is 8 years/195 000km.) The vehicle service intervals are at every 15 000km, alternatively once a year.