More for com­fort than cor­ner­ing

Herald Sun - Cars Guide - - SHORT CUT - CRAIG DUFF craig.duff@news.com.au

VALUE

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.

COM­FORT

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.

SAFETY

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.

DRIV­ING

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.

AL­TER­NA­TIVES

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.

VER­DICT

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.

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