Truth be known, the Lexus RX270 is all you really need in the RX range of medium large SUVs. We would bet a week's wages, 99 per cent of RX owners simply never need all wheel drive. They might tow sometimes but their vehicles would not see anything dirtier than a gravel road to the hobby farm. So, why pay more when you don't need to?
They still don't offer a diesel RX but Lexus reckons it covers that base with the hybrid model and this four cylinder petrol variant. The RX270 is unashamedly aimed at urban SUV buyers but features most of the kit on other RX models including a six-speed auto transmission with sequential shift mode.
More buyers are discovering the advantages of two wheel drive SUVs and Lexus is in there kicking with its RX270 at an affordable $69,990. That's the lowest price the RX has been ever and just because it's (relatively) low priced doesn't mean cheap and boned-out. Far from it.
The RX270 scores a swag of goodies expected in a Lexus - stylish dash, smooth leather, near silent operation, incredible reliability, even "badge power." When you think the top of the range RX450h at over 100 grand, this is a bargain. Looks the same, goes well, plenty of kit.
Handy kit includes a reverse camera, a large format info/satnav screen with the SUNA traffic warning system, premium audio, auto tail gate operation, eight way adjustable front seats, Bluetooth phone and audio, climate control and the excellent remote touch control system that's a bit like a computer mouse in the centre console.
Lexus upgraded the RX lineup late last year introducing the family “spindle” grille as well as a host of under the skin improvements.
All are palpable in the RX270 complete with its Toyota family sourced 2.7-litre, petrol four cylinder engine driving the front wheels through a six speed auto with sequential change mode. For tech heads, the engine is a "stroker' meaning the cylinder bore is smaller than the piston stroke which has benefits in terms of torque feel.
It achieves 138kW/252Nm output but feels better than that thanks to appropriate gearing and various technical features to boost launch and mid range response. It does a great job of moving the 1950kg RX270. Once up and running, the vehicle adopts the expected Lexus level of smooth and quiet.
We know Lexus has put its eggs in the hybrid basket but can't help feeling a good low emission 2.2-litre diesel with 500Nm and sub 7.0-litre economy would be the ideal set up for the RX 0- all of them. It would also put Lexus on a firmer footing with its main competition all of whom have turbo diesel power in their line-up.
The look is different enough to take your eye especially from the front but is unmistakably a Lexus RX. Inside the leather clad interior is plenty of room for five passengers and their luggage capped off by a classy looking dash and switch gear and a new you beaut version of the already handy Remote Touch Control system.
It is engineered to score a five star crash rating and boasts 10 airbags, stability control, a reinforced passenger cell and all the usual safety kit expected in a 2013 vehicle.
We have chalked up quite a few kays in our RX270 because it's so comfy and a good size. Long trips are a breeze and there's no issue with luggage space for five. We have also achieved better than the claimed fuel economy dipping under the 10 mark on trips and just nudging over around town.
Lexus stiffened the chassis on RX this time around giving a better platform for all the dynamic functions to work off. It rides and steers better and has a sporty feel though still comfy. The 18-inch wheels carry chunky, grippy rubber.
The lack of all-wheel drive is irrelevant for potential buyers of this vehicle who will use it as a practical wagon for general duties while saving on purchase price and running costs.
We were a little sceptical about the four cylinder engine particularly when it's idling and when you first hear it but that issue drops away once you start driving because you can feel or hear precious little engine noise or vibration and performance is good. Gotta love a Lexus like this and the price.
Price: from $69,400
Engine: 2.7-litre 4-cylinder petrol, 138kW/252Nm
Transmission: 6-speed auto, FWD
Thirst: 9.7L/100Km, CO2 226g/km