No nameplate has done more to put luxury crossovers on the map than the Lexus RX. Over three generations, this Camry-based, mid-size luxo-ute has set the standard as to what it takes to run around upscale suburbia. Now, 2016 sees an all-new RX with more style, comfort, and hi tech, and perhaps, more impact. So let’s see if owners should leave their gated communities for a new RX?
Lexus knew better than to mess too much with the core attributes of the 2016 RX. So, while the brand is aggressively expanding its high performance offerings; when it comes to their best-selling model series, they showed a lot of restraint.
Although that is not obvious when you first see it. Now, we can spend all day debating the clearly radical looks, or that it has grown a bit. 1.9 inches in wheelbase and 4.7 in overall length. But, we don’t think it will deter most current Lexus buyers seeking an ultra-comfortable neighborhood showcase.
So, if it happens to strike you as an angry, drop jawed, sharply creased parent of the NX, and more like an oddly-elegant sci-fi rolling sculpture, so be it. Designers did throw in a “floating roof design” that is this season’s must-have fashion accessory.
But, back to those core values. Unlike the rough riding, tightly sprung NX, the RX remains a very smooth operator with a ride that is luxurious without being flabby. So good call here, Lexus.
It is also extremely quiet. Even the hybrid version is virtually silent. Our senses really couldn’t tell if the gas engine was running or not.
Steering response has been increased without much change in overall feel which remains unremarkable.
Fully living up to expectations denotes the interior as well. Materials are exquisite, amenities are what you’d expect, and comfort is top notch. No wonder RX buyers are such a loyal lot.
The layout is similar to stablemates IS and RC and things seem a little cluttered. But this two-row family hauler provides excellent seat comfort up front, and a second row that is far nicer than many kids might deserve. The bigger outsides also adds to space here for adults.
And you can take it with you when you go, thanks to 18.4 cubic-ft. of cargo room. No kids on board? Well, now you’ve got 56.3 cubic-ft. of big box storage space. A power rear hatch is standard, touch-free operation is optional.
An 8.0-inch dash-top TFT infotainment screen is standard. Up-level trims get a 12.3-inch hi-res display with Lexus’ Remote Touch interface.
Another familiar aspect of the new RX is under hood. A 3.5-liter V6 still does duty. But, it’s the newest direct-injected version, now producing 295-horsepower and 267 lb-ft. of torque. Add hybrid hardware, and output grows to 308-horsepower. Max towing capacity is unchanged at 3,500-lbs.
The RX350 does add an 8-speed automatic transmission, while the 450h hybrid incorporates a CVT. Both are available with front or all-wheel drive; the hybrid’s AWD adds an additional electric motor in the rear.
The only nod toward more street prowess is that the F Sport upgrade is now available with both powertrains. It is definitely the way to go for bragging rights in your cul-de-sac. Not only will you get even more aggressive styling tones inside and out…
…blacked out trim, 20-inch wheels, unique gauges, paddle shifters, aluminum accents, even an Active Sound Generator…
…but you’ll also get an Adaptive Variable Suspension as well. And while it takes handling a big step up, most soccer moms will probably just end up leaving things in comfort mode.
Lexus Safety System + includes automatic braking, upgrading the already extensive list of safety features.
Now Government Fuel Economy Ratings aren’t finalized yet, but Toyota claims 20-City, 28-Highway, and 23-Combined for a front-wheel drive V6; and 31-City, 30-Highway, 30-Combined for the hybrid.
RX pricing should start in the low 40’s.
The Lexus mission of late is to rally up some new customers and become a much more dynamic brand. And while that’s a noble mission, to us, the results have been somewhat mixed. Fortunately, except for looks, there’s nothing about the 2016 Lexus RX that will impact its appeal to current owners and prospects. It’s still premium in comfort and execution, and remains what most other luxury crossovers aspire to be.
Engine: 3.5 liter
Torque: 267 lb-ft.
EPA: 20 mpg city / 28 mpg highway,