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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist

Lexus goes more stylish and premium with all-new RX

Electrification has taken centre stage with only a single model doing without any electrical assistance.

One of the models credited with starting the luxury crossover back in 1998, Lexus has officially revealed the all-new fifth generation RX South Africa will be receiving next year.

Effectively previewed two years ago, first in Japan by the Toyota Harrier and then weeks later by the reimagined Venza in the United States, the RX, of which 3.5-million have been sold since its debut, moves to the same TNGA-K platform as its siblings, while also bowing as the first model to feature Lexus’ Next Chapter styling language.

New look

While retaining the same silhouette as the Harrier and Venza, the front facia has been suitably redesigned to incorporate not only a new take on Lexus’ Spindle Grille, but also triple LED headlights, still with the lower L-shaped daytime running diode, a thin logo bar at the base of the bonnet and a 15 mm wider track.

New Lexus RX revealed
Stockier but still with a coupe-like sloping rear roof, the Landau inspired floating roof and C-pillar both continue.

Still styled along the lines of a coupe, the RX is noticeably shorter than its predecessor when viewed from the side, despite Lexus having stretched the wheelbase by 60 mm to 2 850 mm and redesigning the facia to feature a new full width LED light arrangement.

Its roofline dropped by 10 mm to 1 695 mm, the RX still measures 4 890 mm in overall length, but with a 25 mm increase in width for a total of 1 920 mm.

In spite of Lexus not divulging any details of the Lexus RX’s boot space, it claims a weight drop of 90 kg, thanks to the platform and body being made out of high-tensile steel and aluminium.

ALSO READ: Going green meets luxury in the Lexus RX450h

Riding as standard on 19-inch alloy wheels with the option of up to 21-inch wheels, the RX once again offers a F Sport derivative endowed with model specific front and rear bumpers, extended door sills, bespoke 21-inch alloys and a gloss black grille.

Step-up inside

Following the example of the NX and RZ, the RX’s interior is all-new and includes not only more premium materials, but the same design and layout as per the Tazuna – “reins of a horse” in Japanese – concept.

Conforming to the principle of “Omotenashi”, which Lexus claims represents the spirit of hospitality in Japan, the RX comes as standard with the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, as well as a new 9.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system that expands to 14-inch at an additional cost.

New Lexus RX revealed
F Sport touches are easy to make out.

Aside from the usual selection of veneers, materials and up to six colours, the RX’s centre console has been redesigned, the trademark Lexus analogue clock dropped entirely and the optional Mark Levinson sound system upgraded to 21-speakers.

Better safety

At the same time, Lexus has revised the RX’s safety spec sheet to include a digital surround-view monitor that shows a 3D image, 12 ultra-sonic sensors for the Park Assist, Curve Control and a quicker reacting Pre-Collision System that benefits from Emergency Steering Assist.

Also updated is the Driver Attention Alert system, the Adaptive Cruise Control and Blind Spot Monitor with Safety Exit Assist. Front Cross Traffic Alert is however new, as is the Lane Change Assist all European models will come standard with.

New Lexus RX revealed
RX 500h will have a Lexus first turbocharged petrol/hybrid drivetrain.

Along with its new platform, the RX gets a new multi-link rear suspension, better road noise insulation and new rear wheel steering system called Dynamic Rear Steering.

The electric kick up front

Arguably the biggest overhaul is to the powertrains where the RX line-up comprises a single turbocharged internal combustion engine, two hybrids, and a new plug-in hybrid. For the first time since it’s unveiling, buyers are no longer offered a V6 option, with all being four-cylinders.

Starting the range off, the RX 350 eschews the normally aspirated 3.5-litre mill for the NX’s 2.4-litre turbo. Hooked to an eight-speed automatic gearbox, the unit produces 205kW/430Nm, transferred as standard to the front wheels or optionally to all four.

New Lexus RX revealed
Interior a huge step-up from the old RX.

The step-up RX 350h combines the familiar 2.5-litre petrol with an electric motor for a total system output of 179 kW. In typical hybrid fashion, a CVT is entrusted with sending the amount of twist to all four wheels.

Only available from next year is the RX 450+, which pairs the normally aspirated petrol with an 18.1-kWh electric motor also perched on the rear axle.

Resulting in a full-time all-wheel-drive configuration, the system produces a combined 228 kW Lexus claims will see the RX from 0-100 km/h in seven seconds. No range figure was released.

New Lexus RX revealed
Red and black colour option reserved for the F Sport.

Completing the range, the RX 500h teams the 2.4-litre turbo to two electric motors, one between the engine and the six-speed automatic gearbox, and the other on the axle the brand calls eAxle.

A first for any Lexus, the entire setup, called Direct4, additionally carries the F Sport Performance moniker and is reserved for the RX 500h and no other model.

Rated at 273 kW, the RX 500h will get from 0-100 km/h in a claimed 5.9 seconds and as a result of the F Sport moniker, gains the mentioned rear wheel steering system, sharper brakes, retuned steering and on the inside, F Sport door sills and seats, the F Sport steering wheel and alloy pedals.

New Lexus RX revealed
Claimed boot space wasn’t divulged.

In South Africa…

In the US, the RX will have a choice of five trim levels; base, Premium, Premium+, Luxury and the F Sport Performance with the colour palette comprising ten hues;

  • Iridium;
  • Caviar;
  • Ultra White;
  • Copper Crest;
  • Grecian Water;
  • Nightfall Mica;
  • Eminent White Pearl;
  • Nebula Grey Pearl;
  • Nori Green Pearl;
  • Matador Red Mica

Going on sale later this year, the Lexus RX, as mentioned, will be coming to South Africa next year with pricing and model allocation to be announced then.

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