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Lexus has launched a sweeter RX350 in an effort to match the luxury German SUVs

17 Feb 2009

LEXUS has come to rely on its medium-size luxury SUV, the RX, with up to half its sales volume generated by this model. This third-generation RX350 (the second for Australia – we missed out on generation one) enjoys increased stature and more features, not to mention the handling finesse to better face the primarily German competition. The new RX seems to have enough of these qualities to give the Germans something to worry about. A hybrid version, the RX450h, is still to come, and the question remains: does the Lexus have the engine – or engines, given the lack of a diesel – to be a true competitor for the well-rounded luxury SUVs such as X5 and M-class.

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Model release date: 1 February 2009 to 1 May 2012

Previous model

Lexus RX330/350

Released: April 2003
Ended: February 2009
Family Tree: RX

The Lexus RX330 was launched in Australia in April 2003 at a price of $69,990 as Lexus’ first foray into the quickly growing luxury SUV market. Lexus already tried and failed with the LandCruiser 100-based LX470 but that was not popular enough and too truck-like to appeal to the urban SUV sophisticate. The Camry-based RX350 platform initially arrived with a 3.3-litre V6 petrol engine and then the 3.5-litre V6, with 203kW at 6200rpm and 342Nm of torque at 4700rpm, was introduced in February 2006 with the name change to RX350. The new V6 added $1600 to the price of both the RX Sports (to $74,800) and RX Sports Luxury (to $84,100). The RX was noteworthy for its features, finish and refinement, but was hardly a competitor for the class-leading BMW X5 in terms of dynamics.

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