LUX­URY REIN­VENTED

Lexus has re­worked its SUV from the ground up, PETER BARN­WELL writes

Geelong Advertiser - Motoring - - USED CARS -

INI­TIAL re­sis­tance in the late 1990s by Lexus Aus­tralia to RX lux­ury SUV quickly caved when they tal­lied up how many “grey” im­ports of first gen­er­a­tion model were be­ing snapped up by pri­vate buy­ers.

was hav­ing none that and be­gan im­port­ing the sec­ond

with en­cour­ag­ing re­sults. That sit­u­a­tion has de­vel­oped over sub­se­quent mod­els to put RX at the top of Lexus sales chart.

Now it’s one their strong­est sell­ers and, along the way, pre­cip­i­tated a rash of copy­cat lux­ury SUVs from other man­u­fac­tur­ers.

The lat­est, fourth gen­er­a­tion RX is new ground up fea­tur­ing new en­gines, un­der­pin­nings, tech­nol­ogy and gen­er­ous lev­els equip­ment. With a mon­u­men­tal “spin­dle” grille, you can’t miss it on the street.

The lineup com­prises RX200T, RX350 petrol units and RX450h hy­brid petrol/elec­tric in vary­ing grade lev­els — Lux­ury, F-Sport Sports Lux­ury start­ing price at $73,000 for the RX200T front-wheel drive.

This 2.0-litre turbo, petrol, four cylin­der is al­ready in Lexus IS and NX mod­els and ar­guably the best buy in

new RX lineup. It re­places un­der­per­form­ing thirsty 2.7-litre four cylin­der petrol en­gine in the pre­vi­ous en­try level RX270.

Pow­er­trains in­clude above­men­tioned 2.0-litre turbo four, a 3.5litre nat­u­rally as­pi­rated V6 with torque on de­mand all wheel drive in the RX350 and a hy­brid petrol/elec­tric all wheel drive in the RX450h fea­tur­ing petrol elec­tric boost mo­tors.

Out­puts as­cend­ing or­der are 175kW/350Nm, 221kW/370Nm and 230kW/335Nm.

The new RX ush­ers in an eight­speed auto trans­mis­sion on the 350 with the 200 us­ing a six-speed auto.

hy­brid 450h runs CVT “auto” called E-Four.

The petrol V6 is a re­vised version of the pre­vi­ous model with more tech­nol­ogy and dual-fuel in­jec­tion lifted from Toy­ota 86 other Toy­ota/Lexus mod­els — for ef­fi­ciency gains as well as im­proved fuel econ­omy lower emis­sions.

The hy­brid model sips lit­tle as 5.7-litres/100km but weighs a lot. Drive is han­dled by petrol and elec­tric mo­tors at the front an mo­tor rear to give all wheel drive.

Gen­er­ous equip­ment comes in mod­els start­ing with RX200T that has 10-way power seats, leather up­hol­stery, 12-speaker au­dio, wire­less phone charger, heated and ven­ti­lated front seats, 20-inch al­loys, power tail­gate, three mode drive se­lect, steer­ing wheel ad­just, eight-inch touch screen, auto wipers and head­lights, tyre pres­sure mon­i­tor, heated ex­te­rior mir­rors, re­verse cam­era, blind spot mon­i­tor­ing cross traf­fic alert, clear­ance park­ing rear sonar, smart en­try start, Lexus safety sys­tem+ with pre-col­li­sion prepa­ra­tion, lane keep­ing ac­tive cruise con­trol and plenty more. And that’s just the base model. Of par­tic­u­lar note is ar­rival of se­quen­tial indi­ca­tor lights on 450h that il­lu­mi­nate point­ing di­rec­tion of travel.

The new gen­er­a­tion RX 50mm longer in the wheel­base and of­fers more room in­side, par­tic­u­larly in the crit­i­cal rear seat legroom hip/ shoul­der mea­sure­ments.

body/chas­sis has plenty of new con­struc­tion tech­nol­ogy to boost strength and re­duce weight.

It has a larger foot­print and im­proved sta­bil­ity on vary­ing road sur­faces un­der dif­fer­ent driv­ing con­di­tions.

The higher spec mod­els have more so­phis­ti­cated elec­tron­i­cally con­trolled dy­nam­ics.

Safety kit in­cludes 10 airbags and a swag of driver as­sist tech­nol­ogy as well as im­proved pedes­trian safety.

Lux­ury in­side the cabin is scaled up with bet­ter seats, wire­less phone charger and mul­ti­ple elec­tric ad­just­ments to driv­ing po­si­tion.

The sec­ond row has seat back re­cline.

As ex­pected, the drive ex­pe­ri­ence is some­what ar­ti­fi­cial in feel, be­ing quite iso­lated from road with min­i­mal noise or vi­bra­tion, light con­trols, soft ride, smooth pro­gres­sion. It a hall­mark of Lexus brand.

The new 200T has plenty of go. is the sporti­est drive in the RX range and for this rea­son, we think it will be

most pop­u­lar. 350 typ­i­cal Lexus, con­trolled, poised.

We didn’t hy­brid model but sug­gest it would sim­i­lar to 350 with per­haps even less noise or vi­bra­tion.

Can’t see the sense in spend­ing the ex­tra 30-odd grand for top of range hy­brid when 200 is such a good thing un­less fuel econ­omy and lux­ury is ab­so­lutely para­mount.

I Like the style al­though it’s bit de­riv­a­tive of smaller NX.

Can’t ar­gue with kit or the per­for­mance. Safe, use­ful, classy.

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