RX gets Sportier
The latest upgrades to the Lexus RX have given it an added edge over the competition.
The end of 2019 saw Lexus update their spectacular RX SUV range, with changes that have made its strengths even more pronounced. One of these changes is that for the first time a bespoke F Sport model is available in the RX line up.
The RX is Lexus’s flagship SUV, other than the LX (which you can’t really compare, because of the LX being a true 4x4), and it is also one of the Japanese firm’s most successful products with over 3 million units sold around the world. If that doesn’t mark it a winning recipe then I don’t know what does.
The RX is a striking car, the coupe profile setting it apart from the more mundane, boxy SUVs on the market, while the hawkish lights and deep spindle grille identify it as a modern Lexus. The 2019 iteration evolves this successful design, the tweaks making it even more refined and desirable. The grille now sports 3D ‘L’ shapes radiating from the Lexus badge, the headlights are even slimmer, and the front bumper has been re-sculpted to have curvier edges. The ‘floating roof’ design element, where the roof seems to be floating above the body thanks to the black C-pillar, has been emphasised by a new ‘character line’, as the marketing peeps call it.
In the rear the bumper and lights have been redesigned, the lights more lateral and the bumper linking more strongly to the rear wings. All models stand on striking 20-inch wheels.
While all of the RX models are svelte and sporty, the new F Sport model raises the game with unique wheels (in a dark granite finish) and bumpers, black plating and a mesh grille insert. It also comes in two exclusive colours (Heat Blue Contrast and White Nova) as well as Sonic Titanium, Graphite Black, Morello Red and Black. You can even specify an all-red interior.
Two engine configurations can be had in the RX. The first is a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine combined with a quick-shifting eight-speed transmission and delivering 221kW and 370Nm @ 4600 rpm (RX 350, including the F Sport) or 216kW and 358Nm @ 4600 rpm (RX 350 L). The other option, found on the RX450h, is a petrol-electric hybrid that pairs the same V6 engine with powerful electric motors and an electronically controlled Continuously Variable Transmission for a combined 230kW total system output.
What the eye can’t see is the innumerable mechanical and technical changes made to the RX range to improve the handling. Engineers implemented things like 36 more weld points and 4.2m more body adhesive, for increased rigidity, so that there’s less body roll in cornering.
The RX’s vehicle stability control gains Active Cornering Assist, which automatically suppresses understeer if the driver steps on the throttle in mid-corner. Then there are new shock absorbers for even better ride quality – a characteristic that the RX was already noted for.
The new F Sport variant features a more refined version of the adaptive variable suspension (AVS) system – it now operates over a wider range to further enhance comfort and control. The F Sport as well as the hybrid models have also been given additional safety features in the form of the Lexus Safety System+ (pre-collision safety system and autonomous emergency braking). This can even detect cyclists and pedestrians (at night!). Something we particularly liked, considering the generous dimensions of the RX, is an intelligent parking brake system that will stop you during parking manoeuvres if you’re about to hit something. We’re sure that insurance companies will also like what this does!
Finally, while the RX was already at the pinnacle of its class when it comes to interior quality, it has somehow been improved. The interface system is improved to be more user friendly and features a 12.3-inch central display with touchscreen functionality. The screen is more centrally located too, so that the passenger can also control what’s happening. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both present, including voice control of both, while four USB slots allow multiple devices to be connected and charged.
The RX range is priced from R1 012 000 for the EX grade and R1 087 000 for the RX 350 EX L. The RX 350 F Sport model retails for R1 132 200 while the top of the range, RX 450 h SE, is available for R1 315 800. It is covered by a class-leading 7-year warranty and 7-year/105 000km maintenance plan.
Dynamic drive characteristics
Incredible build quality
Jam-packed with comfort and convenience features