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Lexus RX200t and RX350 2015 review

2015 Lexus RX
EXPERT RATING
7
Peter Barnwell road tests and reviews the Lexus RX with specs, fuel consumption and verdict at its Australian launch.

Raising performance a notch, the least expensive version of Lexus's luxo SUV is arguably the best value.

In the late 1990s, Lexus Australia was reluctant to bring in the RX luxury SUV — but it quickly caved in when it tallied how many private buyers snapped up "grey imports" of the first generation model.

Lexus began importing the second generation with encouraging results. Now the RX is one of its strongest sellers and, along the way, has inspired a rash of copycat luxury SUVs from other brands.

The fourth-generation RX is new from the ground up — primarily engines, underpinnings and technology — with generous levels of equipment. The monumental "spindle" grille means you can't miss it on the street.

There are RX200T and RX350 petrol versions and RX450h hybrid in Luxury, F-Sport and Sports Luxury grades.

The 2.0-litre turbo in the base vehicle is shared with the brand's IS and NX models and is arguably the best buy in the RX line-up. It replaces the underperforming and thirsty 2.7-litre four-cylinder in the previous entry level RX270.

In the RX350, motivation comes from a 3.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol V6 with on-demand all-wheel drive. The AWD hybrid RX450h has electric motors to boost the V6 driving the front wheels.

The new series ushers in an eight-speed automatic on the 350 while the 200 uses a six-speed auto. The hybrid 450h runs a CVT called E-Four.

Among the revisions for the V6 is dual fuel injection, lifted from the Toyota 86 and other Toyota/Lexus models, for improved fuel economy and lower emissions. The hybrid is weighty yet sips as little as 5.7L/100km.

The RX350 is typical Lexus, controlled, poised, not really engaging at all

Equipment is generous. Safety kit includes 10 airbags and a swag of driver assistance technology as well as improved pedestrian protection.

The RX200T has 10-way power front seats, leather trim, 12-speaker audio, wireless phone charger, heated and ventilated front seats, 20-inch alloys, power tailgate, three driving modes and eight-inch touchscreen.

And that's just the base model — the others add yet more kit. Of particular note: sequential indicator lights on the 450h that point the direction of travel.

An additional 50mm in the RX wheelbase endows more cabin space, particularly for the critical rear legroom and hip/shoulder room measurements, and the larger footprint enhances stability. It is strictly a five-seater as the sloping rear glass precludes a third row, though the second row seat backs recline.

New construction technology — such as laser screw welding and greater use of high strength steel — adds strength and cuts weight.

There is conventional double wishbone suspension all around, with drive mode selections changing calibration from comfort to sport. Higher spec models have more sophisticated electronically controlled dynamics.

Driving

As expected, the drive experience is somewhat artificial — the RX feels isolated from the road with minimal noise or vibration, light controls, soft ride and smooth progress. Plenty of people like that in a car — it's a Lexus hallmark, after all.

The 200T has plenty of go from a standing start and through the rev range. It is the sportiest of the RX range and is a contender to be the most popular.

The 350 is typical Lexus, controlled, poised, not really engaging at all — a good-looking luxury transport box. We didn't get to test the hybrid model but suggest it would be similar to the 350 with perhaps even less noise or vibration.

Unless fuel economy and luxury are paramount, it's difficult to justify the extra $30K-odd for the top of the range hybrid when the 200 is such a good thing.

Verdict

It's handsomely styled although it's slightly derivative of the smaller NX. Features and performance are noteworthy. The RX is a safe, useful and classy model.

How do you think the new RX stacks up against its German rivals? Let us know in the comments below.

Pricing Guides

$47,990
Based on 39 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$30,850
Highest Price
$69,998

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
RX270 (FWD) 2.7L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $30,850 – 37,880 2015 Lexus RX 2015 RX270 (FWD) Pricing and Specs
RX450h F Sport Hybrid 3.5L, Hyb/PULP, CVT AUTO $68,880 – 69,998 2015 Lexus RX 2015 RX450h F Sport Hybrid Pricing and Specs
RX350 F-Sport 3.5L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $39,980 – 49,990 2015 Lexus RX 2015 RX350 F-Sport Pricing and Specs
RX350 Luxury 3.5L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $39,900 – 59,888 2015 Lexus RX 2015 RX350 Luxury Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7