As Lexus’ all-star sales champ, the RX redesign for 2016 is an all-important step in keeping the Big L’s sales and market share near the top of the luxury brand ranks.
To fend of new competition from all sides in this five-seat crossover segment, the RX is dramatically redone in almost every way. First off, the style.
Wearing Lexus’s new design brief and its interesting, unique and captivating creases and angles, the RX is far more exciting to look at than it has been in years. The noses are characterized by slimmer lighting elements, better-integrated spindle grilles with a new macho external shape, and a lower and more premium look to the hood and nose overall. The triple LED low and highbeams are available as an option, joining LED fog and turning lamps and LED blinkers up front for the top trims.
In profile, the new aggression is stylish and sleek – helping to make even the ubiquitous RX shape feel fresh and totally new. Squared off fender flares bring a distinct horizontal shape to their bulge over the 18- or 20-inch wheels. The flares are deeply stamped into the bodywork, allowing their outer edges to be totally smooth and flat. This is in contrast to the deep shoulderlines and panel surfacing in the doors.
Up top, a new glasshouse look is totally blacked-out from A-pillar to D-pillar, where the rear side glass is now just two slim strips of black glass. This helps the car feel low and longer than before, and also sets the style up for a future seven-seat option for the RX. (More on this below)
The RX has always been one of the most comfortable and easy-driving crossovers — and this continues for 2016. The all-new dashboard, seats, controls and tech suite are all the cutting-edge of Lexus tech and style. The F Sport option will be available for the first time on both the RC350 AWD and the RX450h AWD – bringing sportier details inside, available red leather seats and more visual aggression in its brushed-alloy interior panels taking the place of glossy wood.
The glossy Lexus wood is only one of the new choices, however. We see in this Lexus RX450h that there is a new pinstripe wood choice where two types of tree are spliced together for a premium and elegant style. The wide center console looks extra premium — both in how much space it offers up front for pocket clutter and how a wide armrest conveys a truly expensive luxury car.
In the back seat, heated outer perches are new, as is more leg, knee and head room. A deep backrest adjustment lets you get truly relaxed and lounge-y back there, aided by new twin 11.5-inch TV screens attached to the front seatbacks.
JUST FIVE SEATS?
Yes, for now the RX continues as a five-seater. But we are tipped that a seven-seat variant will be arriving shortly after the main models. This may or may not have a new badge, but will carry a $4,000 price premium and be in dealerships by May of 2016. We predict it will be called the RX350L.
The new RX350 and RX450 are deeply refreshed in the powertrain regions. The RX350’s V6 is now upgraded to make 300-horsepower through an all-new eight-speed automatic. The F Sport upgrade is just offered on AWD RX350’s, and should come standard with a new Adaptive Variable Suspension for the first time on an RX. This system promises smoother rides on the highway, a tauter feel in corners and less body lean in hard driving. F Sport drive controls are also a sure thing to change the steering, throttle and transmission programming.
The RX450h hybrid model and the base RX350 are expected to look very similar, as on the smaller NX. The Hybrid actually looks really sharp for this 2016 model-year, with horizontal dark-grey grille slats and blue-tinted L badges.
Similarly, the RX450h F Sport will look just as sporty as the RX350F — aside from the blue badges.
HOW SOON, AND HOW MUCH?!
The RX pricing should be very similar to the current model, with base price ranges in the low $40,000’s up to a max tally of around $55,000 for the loaded RX450h AWD F Sport.
No word yet on how soon the RX will be in showrooms. Based on Lexus’s track record, a July/August arrival seems very likely for the first orders.
2016 Lexus RX350 F Sport
2016 Lexus RX350 and RX450h
The All-New 2016 Lexus RX Makes Global Debut at the New York International Auto Show
- Bolder Design Language for Best-Selling Luxury SUV
- F SPORT Available for AWD Models
- Lexus Safety System+ Integrates Active Safety Technology Into One High-Value Package
- Available Adaptive Variable Suspension For Optimal Handling and Ride
The RX with all-new sheet metal makes a powerful visual statement at first glance. A completely new front end is highlighted by an emboldened spindle grille, more aggressive front bumper and available triple L-shaped LED headlamps. Together with the all-new LED fog lamps and LED daytime running lights, the RX has a more sophisticated and advanced look. Muscular front fender flares add to the vehicle’s sporty attitude.When seen from the side, the sharp character line that runs from the front fenders to the rear end, together with a flowing roofline, give the RX a dynamic profile. All of this helps make the vehicle sure-footed at high speed and reduces wind noise. A truly distinctive styling cue is the blacked-out C-pillars, which provide the illusion of a floating roofline never before seen on a Lexus product. Also, newly available 20-in. aluminum wheels with larger tires improve the vehicle stance and proportions and replace the current model’s 19-in. options. These 20-inch wheels can also be customized with body color-matching inserts to emphasize the driver’s individuality.The new RX’s rear appearance has been sharpened, now exuding a sense of chiseled, rock-solid stability with the design highlighted by LED L-shaped taillights that wrap around the sides of the vehicle, creating a wider, more authoritative presence when illuminated. When lit, a brilliant glow spans laterally from the body to the back door, a Lexus-first. Integrated dual exhaust pipes have been added to the gas model for a more premium appearance.
Inside, RX’s new luxurious cabin with elegant, high-quality trim exudes warmth and class. Specially finished Yamaha laser-cut ornamentation is available for those who appreciate an additional dimension of interior refinement. An available color heads-up display (HUD) projects pertinent vehicle information to the driver’s windshield, while the information display area, featuring an available 12.3-in. monitor with full-screen map, is situated atop the center stack. The shift lever, complete with leather boot, has been positioned away from the front of the instrument panel to optimize operability and create more space for the driver.
Rear-seat occupants are treated to more leg and knee space. The RX now offers heated outboard rear seats and a 60/40 power folding second row to enhance comfort and convenience. A newly available retractable power panorama moonroof enhances the RX cabin’s spaciousness and provides occupants with a refreshing open-air experience. The available rear seat entertainment system now includes 11.6-in. dual screens affixed to the back of the front headrests.
“Even while ensuring a high level of luxury and space within the cabin, the RX’s silhouette remains sleek and dynamic, while the interior has been designed for easy operation with luxurious execution,” said Gen Ikeda, Lexus RX chief designer.
2016 Lexus RX450h
Smooth, Powerful and Efficient Engines Under the Hood
Under the RX 350’s hood is an upgraded and more powerful 3.5-liter V6 aiming to deliver
300 hp with direct injection, mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission. Based on this enhanced powertrain is the RX 450h’s Atkinson-cycle 3.5-liter V6. When combined with the electric motor generator, the combined output results in around 300 hp. All RX engines have been tuned in anticipation of high fuel economy ratings and low carbon emissions.
Enhanced Handling and Straight-line Stability
When it comes to delivering precise, controlled handling, the new RX offers impressive dynamic capability. The entire chassis has been fortified to provide enhanced straight-line stability and control through turns. The vehicle’s body structure has been strengthened with added stiffness, helping to enhance its handling response while reducing engine and road noise in the cabin. Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) is standard, while Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) is available on select models. Each system is designed to help recognize loss of vehicle control, and help mitigate potentially dangerous situations with automatic and often transparent adjustments to help the vehicle maintain optimal traction. The RX also is offered in All-Weather Drive to help the RX’s handling performance and control on dry and slick surfaces alike.
The RX’s fully independent suspension system, which consists of MacPherson struts up front and a double wishbone setup at rear, has been tuned and reinforced to enhance handling while keeping ride quality remarkably smooth. Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) is available on the RX for the first time. AVS electronically monitors and adapts the shock absorber damping and steering to help ensure optimal handling and ride depending on the driving conditions. The system is also designed to produce less body lean through corners, providing an engaging driving experience.
In the U.S., the RX is available with specifically designed Michelin Premier tires featuring EverGrip™ technology. EverGrip™ technology has a high traction compound, expanding rain grooves that widen over time and emerging grooves which open as the tire wears.
Safety is a Priority with Lexus Safety System+
Lexus has always stressed safety in all of its vehicles, so it should come as no surprise that the new RX is enhanced in the areas concerning the well-being of its occupants. Among the changes is Lexus Safety System+, which can help avoid or mitigate collisions across a wide range of vehicle speeds under certain conditions. Introduced globally, Lexus Safety System+ integrates several of the brand’s existing active safety technologies. These include the Pre-Collision System (PCS) that is designed to detect sudden stops initiated by the preceding vehicle and can engage automatic braking in certain circumstances; Lane Departure Alert (LDA), which issues an audible signal if it determines that the vehicle has strayed from its intended lane; and Automatic High Beam (AHB) that helps ensure optimal forward visibility during nighttime driving. As part of a multi-faceted approach to active safety, the Lexus Safety System+ package utilizes a millimeter-wave radar that works together with a camera to help keep the RX in its intended driving lane via the Lane Keep Assist feature (LKA) and enhances target detection for the Dynamic Radar Cruise Control with full stop capability under certain circumstances. Other available features that can help the driver include Adaptive High-beam System (AHS), a Panoramic View Monitor (PVM) and Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA).
RX F SPORT
For those who prefer even more excitement and performance in their luxury utility vehicles, there is the RX F SPORT (AWD models only), which will be available with both models’ engine offerings for the first time. Lexus vehicles designated with the F SPORT badge are equipped with a number of special visual and performance features that set them apart from other versions. In the RX’s case, the spindle grille and lower center piece of the rear bumper incorporate an “F” mesh design, instantly giving the vehicle a sportier flair. New 20-inch alloy wheels with graphite finish, exclusive to the F SPORT, also help give the RX a commanding presence. Inside, the driver is treated to a custom F SPORT instrument cluster with a TFT Multi Information Display (MID) as well as a sport steering wheel, featuring perforated leather trim, an F SPORT emblem, and paddle shifters. Exclusive colors and trim pieces are also part of F SPORT.
The RX F SPORT’s performance on the road has been enhanced by an active stabilizer system whose cutting-edge technology helps keep the vehicle’s body amazingly flat through corners. The aforementioned AVS, which also helps keep the vehicle planted to driving surfaces through turns, is standard on RX F SPORT. The driver can select the AVS-enhanced Sport S+ mode, in addition to the standard Eco, Normal and Sport settings, on the Drive Mode Select control located on the center console.
The Luxury SUV Bar Has Been Raised Yet Again by the New RX
Whatever version of the RX you choose, one thing is perfectly clear: Lexus’ best-selling vehicle has dramatically raised the bar yet again in the mid-size luxury utility segment, flawlessly combining bold luxury styling inside and out, and engaging driving performance.
“The pioneering spirit of Lexus drives us to create new technology and gives rise to new ideas. It allows us to introduce new vehicles with leading-edge features. And indeed, we are committed to bringing ‘progressive luxury’ to the world. I believe this new RX will not only surprise new customers, but will also delight and satisfy our loyal customers, whose high expectations will be met by many new innovations,” said Katsuda.
2016 RX Preliminary Specifications
|RX 350||RX 450h|
|Overall length||192.5 in.||192.5 in.|
|Overall width||74.6 in.||74.6 in.|
|Overall height||66.5 in.||66.5 in.|
|Wheelbase||109.8 in.||109.8 in.|
|Tread (Fr/Rr)||64.6 in./64.2 in.||64.6 in./64.2 in.|
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
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