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Lexus RX330 morphs into RX350

Frugal grunt: RX350's new V6 is more powerful and more economical.

Lexus launches the updated RX350 this month - complete with Aurion's gutsy new V6

Lexus logo20 Mar 2006

LEXUS has officially released the RX350 that made its Australian debut at the Melbourne motor show last month, when pricing and specification upgrades were also announced.

As reported four weeks ago, a larger-capacity, more powerful and more fuel-efficient V6 is the headline act of a midlife facelift for the Toyota luxury brand’s popular mid-sized SUV.

Along with extensive equipment upgrades across the two-variant range, the new V6 adds $1600 to the price of both the RX Sports (now $74,800) and RX Sports Luxury (now $84,100).

Claimed to make the RX350 the most powerful six-cylinder four-wheel drive in its class and making its Australian debut in the revised RX, the new 3.5-litre engine is a taste of what’s in store from Toyota’s all-new Aurion large sedan in November.

It 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 outgoing 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.

Codenamed 2GR-FE, the new 60-degree V6 features port fuel-injection, roller rockers, high-tumble inlet ports, swirl-control valves in the inlet ports and an electronic Acoustic Control Induction System (ACIS).

The latter varies the effective length of the inlet, creating a long manifold effect to boost torque in the low-to-medium engine speed ranges and a short manifold effect to boost power at high rpm.

ACIS also accelerates the warm-up of the catalyst immediately after start-up, which reduces exhaust emissions.

Displacing 3.456 litres and with a 10.8:1 compression ratio, the new Lexus V6 features aluminium alloy pistons that allow tighter skirt clearances than a forged piston to avoid cold-start piston slap, while its die-cast aluminium cylinder block features external ribs aimed at reducing noise, vibration and harshness.

Finally, a combination of larger valves, new camshaft profiles to deliver higher valve lift and a new "slanted squish" combustion chamber shape aim to improve breathing efficiency.

The new V6 continues to be mated exsclusively to a five-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift function.

Launched Down Under in April 2003 at a price of $69,990, the RX also gains its first significant equipment upgrade.

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.

Meantime, the flagship Sports Luxury variant gains a six-disc CD/DVD changer that allows DVDs to be played while the car is stationary, plus a new Lexus DVD-based satellite-navigation system with improved features and a high-resolution seven-inch LCD touch-panel screen.

A key feature of the new sat-nav system is the ability to ‘bread crumb’ or plot a series of coordinates so the vehicle can retrace its route.

The RX’s Rear View Camera (RVC) has also been upgraded to include the Rear Guide Assist system of parking guide lines on the screen, which is claimed to assist with both reverse and parallel parking.

Finally, the Sport Luxury variant’s Bluetooth hands-free telephone system gains voice recognition technology.

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