1 Jun 2012
A MID-LIFE facelift to the Lexus RX SUV range brought the new ‘spindle grille’ nose styling and a front-drive, four-cylinder RX270 entry-level variant to give the Japanese luxury brand a competitor to smaller SUVs like the BMW X3 and Audi Q5 – at least on price.
In addition to a far lower cost of entry, the RX range received deep price cuts across the board, with the hybrid RX450h becoming significantly more affordable due to the economies of scale yielded by world-wide uptake of hybrid technology.
An F-Sport specification level was also added, bringing Yamaha-developed suspension upgrades, a larger, more sculpted-looking front bumper with mesh on the air intakes and exaggerated ‘spindle grille’, dark-chrome 19-inch alloy wheels with low-profile tyres and sporty interior trim.
V6-powered RX350 F-Sport variants also gained paddle-shifters for manually swapping cogs on the six-speed automatic transmission.
Plenty of equipment was standard across the range – as is the Lexus way – with improvements to the satellite navigation and audio systems bringing SUNA traffic alerts and DAB+ digital radio.
Range-wide standard safety kit included 10 airbags (including knee bags for both front occupants), active head restraints and seatbelt pre-tensioners with load limiters.
Electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist and hill-start assist also made the list of life-preserving features.
F Sport and top-end Sports Luxury variants added adaptive cruise control including a pre-collision safety system.
On-board toys included a 12-speaker sound system with Bluetooth streaming and USB/auxiliary inputs for iPod integration, automatic headlights and wipers, climate-control, a reversing camera, electric seat adjustment, a powered tailgate and voice control.
The RX270, more softly sprung than other variants, was powered by a 2.7-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, producing 138kW of power at 5800rpm and 252Nm of torque at 4200rpm.
Paired as standard with a six-speed torque-converter automatic transmission, combined fuel consumption on the RX270 was 9.7 litres per 100 kilometres.
Statistics for the RX350 remained unchanged, with the same 204kW/346Nm 3.5-litre V6 as before still consuming 10.8L/100km.
The RX450h carried over its 188kW/317Nm 3.5-litre Atkinson cycle V6 petrol engine and continuously-variable transmission (CVT) with six simulated stepped ratios, supplemented by a 123kW/335Nm electric motor on the front axle and a 50kW/139Nm motor on the rear axle to provide all-wheel-drive.
Acceleration to 100km/h took 7.8 seconds, with combined fuel consumption dropping 0.1L/100km to 6.3L/100km, while CO2 output was down a gram to 149g/km.
In addition to the pre-existing Eco and EV modes, the RX450h got a Sport mode, which boosted mid-range acceleration and modified the electric steering map while changing instrument illumination from blue to red.