1 Feb 2006
WITH a larger-capacity, more powerful and more fuel-efficient V6 engine as the headline act of a midlife facelift for the Toyota luxury brand’s popular mid-sized SUV, the RX350 also enjoyed extensive equipment upgrades across the two-variant range – RX Sports and RX Sports Luxury.
The 3.5-litre V6 offers 203kW at 6200rpm and 342Nm of torque at 4700rpm – 18 per cent more power and four per cent more torque than the 172kW 3.3-litre V6 that powers the old RX330.
Featuring dual-VVT-i variable valve timing (instead of the RX330’s single VVT-i system), the all-alloy quad-cam V6 also brings a reduced combined fuel consumption figure of 11.2L/100km, as well as lower exhaust emissions.
The new V6 continues to be mated exclusively to a five-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift function.
The RX350 adopts micro-dot vehicle identification and gains roof racks to go with the existing roof rails, plus an upgraded audio system with MP3/WMA playback capability, as well as the availability of Bluetooth, among other features.
In September 2006 Lexus introduced Australia’s first hybrid SUV.
The RX400h comprises a slightly smaller 3.3-litre version of the RX350’s 3.5-litre transverse petrol V6 producing 155kW at 5600rpm and 288Nm of torque at 4400rpm.
The DOHC 24-valve VVT engine works in conjunction with a 650-volt electric motor to provide a system that, in theory, uses zero-emission electricity to provide power at crawling speeds and brings in the conventional V6 to boost acceleration, assist when cruising and charge the battery when it is running low.
The difference with the RX400h is the second 650-volt electric motor exclusively devoted to driving the back wheels when required.
Managing the complex interplay of petrol power, electric power, storage and generation of electricity is a clever transmission similar to that used in the Toyota Prius. It manipulates a planetary gearset in a way that provides constantly variable ratios while controlling the flow of power from both the petrol engine and the front electric motor.
The total power of the drive system is 200kW, yet Lexus claims the average fuel consumption for the RX400h is 8.1L/100km on the ADR81/01 cycle. And the RX400h’s CO2 emissions, at 192g/km, are slightly more than half of some cars with similar-sized petrol engines.