Lexus RX review
SUVs are extremely popular these days – even the corporate executives who a few years ago would have been driving premium sedans to and from their allocated parking spaces are now choosing luxury SUVs. And if you’re one of those execs who is in the market for a car that ticks the SUV box without compromising the luxury and performance you’re used to, the RX could well be the answer. It makes sense then that this is the luxury brand’s most successful model to date!
In a world of same-same SUVs the RX manages to stand out without being brash or over the top. Instead it extends and expands the current Lexus design DNA that can be seen in their sedan range as well as the smaller SUVs – the glamorous spindle grille and rakish LED headlights up front, the coupe profile with prominent accent lines, and the angular taillights. ‘SUVness’ is added through big, squared-off wheel arches and the raised stance, as well as the commanding driving position that is immediately obvious when you’re behind the wheel.
Performance is non-negotiable in a car of this prestige, and the RX 350 EX is powered by a 3.5-litre direct injection V6 that develops 221kW and 370Nm and drives all four wheels via an automatic eight-speed gearbox.
Instead of a diesel option, the greener route has been taken with the inclusion of a self-charging petro-hybrid option in the RX 450h SE. This vehicle, which combines incredible fuel efficiency (5.7l/100km) with top-notch performance (0-100km/h in 7.7 seconds), also makes use of a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine, but it works in conjunction with a battery-powered electric motor for a combined power output of 193kW. Instead of an automatic transmission the hybrid model uses a CVT transmission for ultimate efficiency. The RX 450h SE is also all-wheel-drive, but uses a different, electric-power system (E-Four) to the RX 350 EX – both are designed to maximise traction, cornering stability and driver control while saving fuel.
While the RX 350 EX is a five-seater SUV, the RX 350L EX is a longer (hence the ‘L’) version of the RX with an extra row of seats, bringing its occupant capacity up to seven. The 110mm of extra length is complemented by 10mm of extra height for better interior space for all passengers, although even in the standard RX the space is extremely generous.
Comfort is what the RX is all about, from the silky smooth driving experience to the almost complete lack of noise intruding into the cabin, as well as the armchair comfort of the leather seats and the extensive array of standard features. This is an area where Lexus frequently beats its German rivals, where lengthy options lists are common. The RX stands apart from the exception fit and finish of the cabin, along with great ergonomics and fanatical attention to detail.
As an indication of the attention Lexus has given to safety with the RX, it features no less than 10 airbags, as well as a full suite of driver-assist technologies including Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (helps when backing out of a parking space), ABS with Brake Assist and EBD, Hill Assist Control, Traction Control, VSC, Vehicle Dynamic Integrated Management (Hybrid only), rear-guide monitor, Tyre Pressure Monitor as well as clearance and parking sonar.
The RX range is priced from R962 000, and the price includes a class-leading 7-year warranty and 7-year/105 000km maintenance plan.
Aggressive, sporty styling
Plush ride quality
High levels of safety equipment
Petro-electric hybrid option