They still don't offer a diesel RX but Lexus reckons it covers that base with the hybrid model and now, a four cylinder petrol variant called the RX270. The latter is unashamedly aimed at urban SUV buyers as it's a front wheel drive model but features most of the kit on other RX models including a six-speed auto transmission with sequential shift mode.
Price and equipment
It also brings the RX into new territory on price slipping in at $69,990 a much lower entry point compared with the previous RX. They've put plenty of kit into it too with a reverse camera, premium audio, SUNA traffic alert satnav, auto tail gate operation, climate control, advanced Bluetooth and eight way electric front seats all included.
The new model is a refresh of the previous vehicle ushering in the Lexus spindle grille look and a host of other changes under the skin and inside the cabin.
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.
The engine is from somewhere within the Toyota world and features twin balance shafts to bring it nearly in line with legendary smoothness for which Lexus is famous. The donk is a 2.7-litre four banger good for 138kW/252Nm output, not a lot for a 1950kg SUV but with well-chosen gearing and an acoustic induction control system boosting available torque, it's pretty good.
Especially when you go to the bowser and fill the RX270 with regular unleaded of which it consumes around 11.0 litres/100km in mixed driving. 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. 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.
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.
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. 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 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 - 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.
Also: Lexus RX270 review | long term 2