- Two models – one of them a petrol/electric hybrid
- Occasional off-roading? Do it in utter luxury
- Adjustable cupholders for giant coffees
If you’re in the market for a luxury all-wheel drive station-wagon with a high degree of luxury equipment, desert-crossing pedigree and a two-ton towing capacity then I reckon Toyota’s luxury arm, Lexus, has gone and gone it again.
This time it’s the fourth-generation RX in either V6 petrol or V6 petrol/hybrid form and if you have the best part of a million bucks to invest in such a rugged family-pack of an all-roader then I’d suggest you go for it.
The RX, Lexus told Carman’s Corner, is the brand’s most successful passenger vehicle so far (Jan 2016). “It makes an undeniably powerful visual statement,” the automaker says, pointing out at the same time that RX sales have passed 1.2-million since launch back in 1998.
It’s described as having the flexibility of a sport utility wagon with the luxury of a top-end sedan.
Glenn Crompton, Lexus SA’s vice-president of marketing, concedes that success brings challenges: “This RX does indeed build on the success of its previous generations through adventurous styling, greater interior space, more engine power and more dynamism… it’s an exceptional package that includes wood and leather.”
The two models – each all-wheel drive – for South Africa are a petrol 221kW/370Nm V6 eight-speed auto 3.5-litre RX 350 EX and petrol/electric RX 450h SE (prices and equipment guide at end of this feature) that makes 230kW to drive a constantly variable transmission (CVT).
Respective fuel-consumption data is given as 9.6 and 5.7 litres/100km.
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The RX wheelbase has grown by 50mm (more rear leg-room) and, overall, is 120mm longer and 10mm wider. Pity, then, that the chassis is 20mm closer to the tar than the previous model given that many owners will want to go off-tar on either model’s 20″ alloy rim/tyre combination.
These latest models have new ventilated rear brakes with 338x18mm disc and floating callipers instead of the previous 309x10mm solid discs and fixed callipers. The hybrid’s braking “moves between regenerative and friction braking”.
Most buyers, however, will be more interested in what they are getting in the cabin for the big bucks they’ll shell out. I’ll let the Lexus copywriters (almost) wax lyrical…
“With almost fanatical attention to detail, superior ergonomics and superlative finishes, the fourth-generation Lexus RX delivers the ideal interior environment for all occupants.
“The layout is sublime with switches provided only for the things you need to adjust without having to scroll through myriad menus. The remote-touch controller takes centre stage and is positioned to allow natural, intuitive control.
“The instrument panel is exquisitely sculpted to provide a sense of openness and fluidity.. A new vertical element from the meter hood to the centre cluster separates the display zone and operation zone to give the driver a distinct ‘cockpit’ feel..
The multimedia screen is placed to provide maximum ease-of-use without distracting the driver from the road.”
The RX, Lexus says, has greater passenger and luggage space and (wait for it!) “world-first height-adjustable front cup-holders”. Presumably for the American market but spilling over elsewhere
“A small thing maybe,” says Lexus, “but a perfect example of attention to the minutest detail.” Oh, and the cars have, for cellsphones that can use it, a wireless charging pad.
The reclining/folding rear seats have a 40/20/40 split; the movement when released is damped.
There are two audio systems run through the 30cm display screen which also handles the satnav and each responds to voice commands.
The RX 350 has 12 speakers, including a 20cm sub-woofer, while the flagship Hybrid model has a 15-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound system.
The audience for either can relax knowing 10 crashbags lurk behind the luxury finishes and the anti-lck braking includes electronic fluid pressure distribution, emergency pressure, traction and stability control and hill-start assistance, which some might think is overkill with an automatic gearbox.
Model specific items are listed below the image.
The Lexus RX 350 EX costs R799 000 and includes
10-way power front seats
12-speaker audio system with DAB+ digital radio tuner
Heatable and ventilated front seats
20″ alloy rims with Sonic Titanium colour inserts
Power tail door operation
Eight-speed auto transmission
Three driving modes
31cm high-definition display with satnav
Power-adjustable steering column
Electro-chromatic rearview mirror
Rain-sensing windscreen wipers
Automatic heated exterior mirrors
Rear privacy glass
Blindspot monitors with rear cross-traffic alert
Clearance and rear parking radar
Smart entry and start
Electronic parking brake
Power sliding roof panel
2000kg (braked) towing capacity
Full-size alloy spare wheel
The Lexus RX 450h SE (R999 000) adds
Unique petal-style alloy rims
Tri-diode headlights with washers
15-speaker Mark Levinson audio
Enhanced safety package