Lexus RX Video Review

2012 Lexus RX Video Review Transcript

The Lexus RX is a real alternative to a German luxury SUV. It’s quiet, composed, packed with equipment and very refined.

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To find out more about the new RX, I tagged along for the 2012 Lexus RX national media launch in Canberra.

The 2012 Lexus RX isn’t brand new – it’s a mid-life makeover. But it is a significant upgrade. Lexus is more than merely hype-mongering over a zany new grille and taillights (although it did get both of those things).

Equipment is up, prices are down, and there’s a new 2WD model that’s just right for you if you’re never really going to need 4WD, but you want the practicality of a decent sized upmarket wagon with all the fruit.

The new model range is dead simple: kicking off is an RX 270 with two-wheel drive and powered by a 2.7-litre twin-cam four with a six-speed auto. It’s an all-new engine for the RX and the first front-drive RX in Australia.

The 270 is the only RX that’ll drink 91-octane regular unleaded.

It’s hardly a poverty-pack, with standard in-dash sat-nav incorporating Suna GPS Traffic Updates, plus a reversing camera, a power tailgate, eight-way power seats, 10 airbags, leather accents inside, a smart key, 12-speaker audio with DAB+ digital radio and Bluetooth for phone and music, plus voice command, privacy glass, daytime running lamps, 18-inch alloys and metallic paint.

Next up is the RX 350. It’s got a 3.5-litre V6 that’s much punchier than the 270, but requires 95-octane premium unleaded petrol.

The RX 450h at the top of the range is a hybrid – and it’s the only AWD I’ve ever driven that doesn’t have a tailshaft between the front axles and those at the rear. That’s because the petrol engine drives the pointy end, while the 650-volt electric motor powers the blunt end – but they must do a fair bit of talking to each other via a high-speed data link. It’s all very composed, even though only a string of binary code keeps the front and rear ends in synch.

The other cool thing about the 450h hybrid RX is: it doesn’t need a conventional alternator or starter motor. The number one motor-generator in the hybrid transaxle acts as the starter motor for the petrol V6, which is pretty clever.

On the road the Lexus RX is very precise. There’s a stiffer shell with additional spot-welds, and that gives the designers a really rigid platform from which to tune the suspension and steering response.

The 270 offers adequate performance for most Aussie families, while the 350 and 450h are actually very sporty and engaging – especially the hybrid. You don’t have to be a tree-hugger to enjoy driving the RX 450h. It’s fun.

Prices range from just over $76,000 drive away for the 270 to just under $110 grand for the Sport Luxury 450h – and that’s from the Lexus website. You can probably do better than that.

The RX isn’t much of an off-roader, and nobody in his right mind would use it as one. But it’s big enough for families and holidays, and although the ride’s a bit firm you could drive it on dirt roads all day long and emerge pretty happy. The hybrid RX 450h is a real alternative to the diesel engine option most of the Euros put on the table if you’re after economy – and like the diesels it offers a boost in real-world performance, but with allegedly greener credentials.

The previous RX has been stygmatized popularly as something of a chick’s car. The new front styling is certainly more masculine, but it remains to be seen if ‘dad’ will be as keen to buy the new one as ‘mum’.

Those new Lexus RX prices are down about $5000 across the board, compared with the previous model range – but in this ballpark there’s some pretty stiff competition from the Audi Q5 and BMW X3. You’d want to check both of those SUVs out before you make any decision.