New 2022 Lexus RX SUV arrives with bold look to take on the BMW X5
The fifth-generation Lexus RX has been revealed, with the Japanese brand once again renewing its BMW X5 and Mercedes GLE fighter with hybrid-only power in Europe.
Along with the new, smaller NX and the all-electric RZ, it’s the next step in what Lexus claims is a new chapter for the brand, based around not just further electrification of what is an already heavily electrified range, but a new attitude towards the design of its cars – something we embraced when we test drove the new, simpler NX earlier this the year.
To that end, the new RX is a mix and match of careful evolution and radical rethinking, enabled by the use of a new platform – the brand’s GA-K underpinnings also utilised by the smaller NX.
Lexus says that it has further developed a design language called ‘Next Chapter’ for the new RX, but it also admits that much of the new model’s look is carried forward from the previous-generation model.
It’s the exact same length as the previous RX, at 4,890mm long. However, it’s 25mm wider and 10mm lower, while the car’s wheelbase is now 60mm longer than before, made possible by moving to the newer GA-K platform. Wider front and rear track widths are joined by a shorter rear overhang, giving the new car a different stance to the old model, despite some visual similarities.
At the front, the RX formula is updated to include the latest interpretation of the brand’s signature spindle grille, with a taller, more squared-off nose rounding off a longer bonnet. It’s flanked by redesigned LED headlights retaining the model’s L-shaped light signature, while the lower section of the front apron looks sportier than before with more imposing vertical air intakes.
In profile, the previous model’s black C-pillars have been applied to the new RX, giving a ‘floating’ look to the roof. The lines are more sweeping compared with the angular surfacing of the previous car, while wheels up to 21 inches in diameter are now available.
At the rear, the RX adopts a popular trait of modern premium SUVs with a full-width LED lighting bar featuring Lexus lettering. Two distinct visual themes will be available on the RX, with a sportier look reserved for the new performance model, badged RX 500h.
Compared with some of the more conservative aspects of the exterior design, the interior takes a decisive step in a new direction. Lexus has redesigned the RX’s cabin around the same theme used in the smaller NX, which it refers to as the ‘Tazuna’ cockpit.
A 14-inch central touchscreen is standard across the line-up and features integrated physical buttons for common commands, such as adjusting the climate control temperature or the stereo volume. It comes with built-in navigation featuring live traffic data, plus wireless Apple CarPlay, along with wired Android Auto connectivity. Joining the infotainment screen is a digital instrument panel designed to look like a single dial, configurable via buttons on the new-look multifunction steering wheel.
Voice control is taken care of by the ‘Hey Lexus’ virtual assistant, and the new RX’s infotainment suite is now compatible with over-the-air updates for fixes and new functions.
New front seats have been designed with a focus on improved comfort and posture support, available with heating and ventilation. The RX is still a five-seater, and as yet there has been no confirmation of the return of the RX L seven-seat variant. Combined with the redesigned seats, the extra wheelbase and more favourable packaging of the GA-K platform means Lexus claims much-improved space inside.
Ambient lighting with 64 colours and 14 themes to choose from adds a splash of colour to the interior, which can now be upholstered in a vegan-friendly leather alternative available in three shades.
A pure-petrol version of the new RX has been developed, but the European line-up will be exclusively hybrid, with both conventional and plug-in technology offered. The RX’s engine selection is based around two four-cylinder units, with no six-cylinder version offered.
Kicking things off is the RX 350h model, which mates a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine to a compact battery and electric motor system. The total output stands at 242bhp and 335Nm torque, with 0-62mph served up in 8.0 seconds. This entry-level model is claimed to return up to 42.2mpg and emits as little as 143g/km CO2. Drive goes to the front wheels via an eCVT transmission.
The plug-in hybrid RX 450h+ also makes use of an eCVT transmission and uses the same 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine as in the 350h model, but it is equipped with an additional electric motor driving the rear axle, and an 18.1kWh battery located under the floor.
The combined output stands at 302bhp and 572Nm, unlocking a pace advantage over the lighter 350h model, with the 0-62mph sprint taking 7.0 seconds. The 450h+ leaps ahead in terms of efficiency however, and will be the default company car chooser’s preference thanks to CO2 emissions from 24g/km and fuel consumption of up to 256.8mpg. An all-electric driving range of up to 40 miles is predicted, with the e-motor enabling an electric top speed of 84mph.
The third and final member of the line-up is a new, sportier model called RX 500h, offered exclusively in F Sport trim. The format changes slightly, using a turbocharged 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox. It’s the brand’s first turbocharged hybrid car, and it also features the brand’s DIRECT4 torque distribution technology used on the all-electric RZ SUV.
Joining the 2.4-litre turbocharged engine is a 107bhp electric motor mounted on the rear axle. The total combined output stands at 366bhp and 645Nm for a 0-62mph sprint of 5.9 seconds. Unsurprisingly, this is the thirstiest RX, claiming 34.5mpg and CO2 emissions of 189g/km.
Orders for the new RX are open now but final prices are yet to be confirmed, though the line-up shouldn’t stray too far from the £56,000 asking price of the current model in 450h form. First deliveries in the UK aren’t anticipated until early 2023.
Click here for our review of the new Lexus NX SUV…
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