More for comfort than cornering
The price has jumped almost $10,000 over the outgoing RX 270 but the feature-laden Lexus is still $10,000 cheaper than the large European rivals. The base Luxury trim includes heated and cooled electric front seats, eight-inch touchscreen, power tailgate and wireless charging with compatible smartphones. The dearer F Sport and Sports Luxury add adaptive headlamps and surround-view camera.
The RX excels at keeping the occupants isolated from the road with some of the most compliant suspension around. Equally, Lexus has always packed a lot into its interiors and, to the eye and touch, the RX feels premium. The only flaw in the cabin is the square “remote touch” controller nestled between the seats that isn’t nearly as intuitive as a dial. Slide into the rear pews and they feel cozy enough to endure an interstate run.
ANCAP rates the RX as a fivestar car and all variants are fitted with 10 airbags and a host of driving aids. Adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking (from 30occasions, 50km/h), lane-keeping assist, blind spot and rear cross-traffic monitoring and tyre pressure monitor are standard.
The attributes that make the RX a comfortable ride don’t make it an engaging one. The softly sprung suspension leans with cornering forces, so the occupants do too. As a more relaxed ride the RX is as plush as a new pillow. It will be a handy vehicle over city speed humps or on freeways but I wouldn’t be rushing on to the back roads. The four-cylinder engine is entertaining but on even with 320Nm, it feels the strain shifting the 1995kg SUV. At other times, such as taking off on a rainslicked road, the turbo will often spin the front wheels before the traction control intervenes. The six-speed automatic and steering are calibrated for comfort rather than responsiveness.
The RX nominally competes against the Audi Q7, BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE. Pricing and physical size should pit it against the Q5, X3 and GLC. In that comparison the RX is still keen competition. The engine is more powerful and it’s hard to fault the standard gear and fit and finish of the Japanese luxury brand.
Adapt to the fact this vehicle prioritises comfort over cornering grip and the RX is a very upmarket mode of transport. A reputation for Toyota-derived reliability only adds to the attraction.