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Driven: Lexus drops RX entry-level price

Facelifted Lexus RX large SUV enters showrooms with more features, better handling

3 Oct 2019

LEXUS Australia has confirmed a lower entry-level price for its RX large SUV, which is now in showrooms in facelifted form with a longer list of standard equipment as well as styling tweaks and chassis and handling improvements.


While the range-opening RX300 Luxury is now $1632 cheaper, at $71,920 plus on-road costs, the rest of the RX line-up has increased in cost between $728 and $1198 to match its push further upmarket, topping out at $111,070 (+$830) for the RX450hL Sports Luxury.


“It hasn’t gone unnoticed by either by us or by luxury customers that the main rivals in this segment all start at more than $90,000. A couple sneak under $100,000 by just $10,” Lexus Australia spokesperson Dan DeGasperi told journalists this week at the RX national media launch in the Blue Mountains.


“Just as Lexus has always done, we’ll reinforce our high level of specification by offering the customers the respect of delivering premium value in the premium market.”


As before, the RX is available in five-seat and seven-seat guises, with the former available in three grades (base Luxury, mid-tier F Sport and flagship Sports Luxury), while the latter goes without the mid-range specification that is volume-seller overall.


For reference, three-row versions are denoted by the L nameplate and make up 20.1 per cent of RX sales since their release in February 2018.


Three powertrain options remain available, including the ‘300’ 175kW/350Nm 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder, ‘350’ 221kW/370Nm (five seats) or 216kW/358Nm (seven seats) 3.5-litre naturally aspirated V6 petrol, and ‘450h’ full petrol-electric hybrid (193kW 3.5-litre naturally aspirated V6 with 123kW motor for 230kW combined).


The front-wheel-drive 300 is mated to a six-speed torque-converter automatic transmission, while the 350 has an eight-speed unit and a front-biased all-wheel-drive system.


The 450h makes do with a six-step continuously variable transmission and an E-Four AWD set-up enabled by a 50kW electric motor on the rear axle.


Claimed fuel consumption on the combined-cycle test is 8.1 litres per 100 kilometres for the 300, 9.6-10.2L/100km for the 350 and 5.7-6.0L/100km for the 450h. Carbon dioxide emissions are 189 grams per km, 223-234g/km and 131-137kg/km respectively.


The 350 is the most popular powertrain option with about a 50 per cent share of overall RX sales, while the 300 and 450h evenly split the remaining volume.


All variants have gained a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support as well as four additional USB ports (now six) and a hands-free power-operated tailgate.


The RX’s suite of active safety features has also expanded to include night-time pedestrian and daytime cyclist recognition for the autonomous emergency braking (AEB) system, active lane-keep assist and road-sign recognition plus rear AEB with static object and moving vehicle detection.


The Luxury grade now has front cornering lamps, while the F Sport and Sports Luxury grades have also gained adaptive LED headlights with blade-scan technology, which the Japanese brand claims is a world first.


By directing the lamps towards a blade mirror that rotates at 12,000rpm in the headlight assembly, Lexus says the RX’s high beams are now 10 per cent brighter and have a narrower shaded area for other vehicles, improving visibility of pedestrians and the road itself.


Chassis-wise, an additional 4.2m of adhesive and 36 spot welds have been added to the RX’s side, underbody and rear-wheel housings to increase its rigidity.


Furthermore, 300 and 450h variants have picked up dynamic dampers on their front suspension members to reduce Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH) levels, while a rubber lip has been added to the front and rear shock-absorber cylinders of all versions to mitigate high-frequency vibrations from uneven road surfaces that cannot be controlled with hydraulic pressure.


The adaptive suspension set-up found in the F Sport and Sports Luxury grades now operates over a wider range, while the former has become even more dynamic thanks to new front and rear performance braces located between the front radiator supports and suspension members, and between the rear hooks respectively.


Handling-wise, the hub bearings for the RX’s front and rear suspension have been improved, increasing lateral rigidity and therefore yaw response and steering feedback.


Meanwhile, the diameter of the rear stabiliser bar has been increased by 5.7 per cent, while its construction is now hollow, reducing its weight by 26.6 per cent. As a result, body roll has been reduced, while vehicle posture when cornering has been improved.


Furthermore, Active Cornering Assist for all variants suppresses understeer on winding roads by braking the inside wheel to produce yaw, while the RX’s electric power steering has been retuned for a tighter on-centre feel.


The RX facelift ushers in sleeker headlights, a more aerodynamic front bumper and a wider, raised version of the marque’s signature ‘spindle’ grille, complete with a fresh block-mesh insert for the Luxury and Sports Luxury grades, and a new wire-mesh item for F Sport variants.


The large SUV’s side character lune has also been revised, now sweeping down from the floating roof to the rear, where the tail-lights now have a mirrored ‘L’ motif and the lower part of the bumper has had its details repositioned along a unified horizontal axis.


Inside, paddle-shifters have been added to the steering wheel, while there is also now more smartphone storage.


The third row found in L versions also gets new power-folding functionality that offers two seating positions for the first time, providing an additional 94.3mm of legroom and 16.2mm of headroom.


Standard equipment in the Luxury grade includes dusk-sensing headlights, rain-sensing wipers, rear privacy glass, keyless entry and start, satellite navigation, voice control, DAB+ digital radio, a 12-speaker sound system, wireless smartphone charging, dual-zone climate control, a power-operated steering column, 10-way power-adjustable front seats, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, high-beam assist and 10 airbags.


The 350 and 450h Luxury variants pick up 20-inch alloy wheels (compared to 18-inch rims), heated and cooled front seats, and leather-accented upholstery (compared to artificial-leather trim), while seven-seat versions also get three-zone climate control.


These features can be added to the RX300 Luxury for $6030 as part of an Enhancement Pack that also includes a front moonroof with a rear panoramic sunroof.


Similarly, an Enhancement Pack is available for the 350 and 450h Luxury variants, but it instead combines a colour head-up display and smart key card with the front moonroof for $4500 and $3500 in the five- and seven-seat versions respectively, with the former also getting the rear panoramic sunroof.


“We’ve packaged the new RX300 Luxury to heighten the appeal to step-up buyers; in particular, growing families and empty-nesters perhaps needing space for grandchildren,” Mr DeGasperi said.


“These are luxury buyers keen to move from a competitor’s medium SUV or perhaps a mid-size sedan.”


Over the Luxury variants, the F Sport grade also gains front and rear sequential indicators, a 15-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, a power-adjustable second-row backrest, rear door sunshades and surround-view cameras.


It also picks up exclusive dark-metallic 20-inch alloy wheels, front and rear bumpers, black side-mirror covers, ‘F Sport’ badging, a perforated sports steering wheel, sports seats and alloy pedals.


Positioning itself as the flagship grade, the Sports Luxury further adds chrome 20-inch alloy wheels, 14-way power-adjustable front seats with memory functionality, heated second-row seats and perforated semi-aniline leather upholstery.


Two new paintwork options are available (Glacial Ecru and Khaki Green), adding to Sonic Quartz, Onyx, Graphite Black, Vermillion, Deep Metallic Bronze, Deep Blue and the F Sport-exclusive White Nova and Cobalt Mica.


As with all Lexus Australia models, the RX comes with a four-year/100,000km warranty with four years of roadside assistance. Service intervals are every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first.


2019 Lexus RX pricing*

RX300 Luxury (a) $71,920 (-$1632)
RX300 Luxury with EP (a) $77,950 (NEW)
RX300 F Sport (a) $86,800 (+$978)
RX300 Sports Luxury (a) $92,700 (+$728)
RX350 Luxury (a) $81,890 (+$1198)
RX350 Luxury with EP (a) $86,390 (NEW)
RX350 F Sport (a) $93,970 (+$978)
RX350 Sports Luxury (a) $99,870 (+$728)
RX450h Luxury (a) $91,090 (+$930)
RX450h Luxury with EP (a) $95,590 (NEW)
RX450h F Sport (a) $103,440 (+$980)
RX450h Sports Luxury (a) $109,340 (+$730)

*Excludes on-road costs


2019 Lexus RX L pricing*

RX350L Luxury (a) $85,000 (+$1029)
RX350L Luxury with EP (a) $88,500 (NEW)
RX350L Sports Luxury (a) $101,600 (+$829)
RX450hL Luxury (a) $94,470 (+$1030)
RX450hL Luxury with EP (a) $97,970 (NEW)
RX450hL Sports Luxury (a) $111,070 (+$830)

*Excludes on-road costs

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