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Lexus RX 2012 review

It’s good to see Lexus refining its designs and implementing a corporate identiy across the range. Latest to receive this treatment is the RX, medium size SUV, a vehicle that started out in the first locally delivered iteration looking like an eggmobile but it now looks posh and purposeful.

The spindle grille is a defining feature of Lexus’ look but that’s not all that comes with the revamped RX. They’ve taken a knife to pricing as well as putting in more kit and there’s a new entry level  four cylinder, petrol front-wheel drive variant called the RX270.

The range is essentially the 270 in one grade and  the petrol V6 RX350 and the hybrid RX450h also with a petrol V6 (Atkinson Cycle engine) and electric engine assist in three grades apiece- Luxury, F-Sport and Sports Luxury.

Apart from spec’ adjustments, the two V6 models are pretty much the same underneath as the previous model with some tweaks here and there particularly to the dynamics and the steering as well as some chassis re-inforcement.

Price

The RX270 comes in at $69,900, the lowest priced RX ever while the 350 starts at $77,900 – a reduction of $5000 on the equivalent Prestige previous model. The RX450h starts at $82,900 – a $6500 saving on the previous model All have have been subtly enhanced in key areas over the previous model.

The RX270

But the 270 is a complete departure homing in on burgeoning "fronty" SUV sales as savvy buyers realise they don’t need all the usual fourbie/bigger engine trappings of a more traditional  SUV. Particularly if it’s going to be used predominantly around town as a family hack – a 'fat wagon' for want of a better description.

This is a completely new drivetrain for Lexus emanating from some US model we have never heard of in the Toyota family. The engine is designated 1AR-FE And no, this is  not the same donk as the earlier Prado four or the Hilux ute from aeons ago.

Under the bonnet

It’s an all aluminium,  2.7-litre, dual VVTi, (variable valve timing) four pot with a maximum 138kW/252Nm output – on regular unleaded fuel. Twin contra-rotating balance shafts keep it smooth and silent most of the time and it’s allegedly capable of returning 9.7-litres/100km. Low friction technologies are used inside including a three stage oil pump and low tension piston rings and auxilliary drive belt.

An acoustic control system brings noise levels down into Lexus-land. But it misses out on highly efficient direct fuel injection that is becoming increasingly common in the Lexus lineup. A six-speed automatic transmission puts drive to the front wheels only.

Features

The 270 is specified to Luxury level with generous standard equipment including DAB digital radio, SUNA traffic update satnav and a large format reverse camera with park assist – as standard.

Other goodies designed to make life easier include a power tailgate, eight way power front seats, leather upholstery, smart entry and smart start, premium audio, the latest Bluetooth 2.0 phone and audio with voice control , daytime running lights and electric steering wheel adjust.

The chassis

More welds in key areas have stiffened the chassis helping steering feel and ride control. There’s more metal behind the dash while the RX retains a large footprint on the road and relatively low centre of gravity despite its height. Though not available on the RX270, F-Sport spec’ brings performance dampers into the equation . Lexus is looking at making elements of F-Sport available on the 270.

Design

They made numerous minor changes on this mid-model makeover including a new front "mask", bumpers at both ends, badging , tail lights and other minor body hardware changes. Something similar has been effected inside with some emphasis put on easier operation. The overall interior look is typical Lexus-classy but they still insist on making satnav inputs available only when the car is stopped. Inside, the latest RX is similar in most respects to the previous model.

On the road (270)

This was a surprise on a number of counts – available performance, the sound of a four banger in an RX, the quiet running in cruise mode, the silky auto and the overall feel of the vehicle simply driving along.

It’s not as sharp as the RX350 F-Sport we drove earlier on but still has that RX appeal – big, safe, prestigious, quality. It will fill the bill as a mum or dad bus taking the fam’ all over town and then capably back up on trips away as long as you stay on the black top and don’t overload it or expect to tow a big trailer.

The ride is a good compromise and there is no cringe in standard equipment which rates as generous – pretty much the same as the V6 cars. It might seem incongruous to bring in a four pot RX but buyers are becoming more pragmatic and why should they buy something they really don’t need.

Verdict

Yep, quite an impressive package and a worthy competitor against a swag of so called premium medium SUV such as the Volvo XC60, Audi Q5 and BMW X5, all of which engage in not a little bit of gouging on options. The Lexus has most as standard equipment.

Pricing guides

$29,880
Based on 31 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$22,490
Highest Price
$32,999

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
RX270 (FWD) 2.7L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $16,100 – 22,440 2012 Lexus RX 2012 RX270 (FWD) Pricing and Specs
RX350 F-Sport 3.5L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $20,900 – 28,380 2012 Lexus RX 2012 RX350 F-Sport Pricing and Specs
RX450H Luxury 3.5L, PULP, CVT AUTO $20,500 – 27,830 2012 Lexus RX 2012 RX450H Luxury Pricing and Specs
RX450H Prestige 3.5L, PULP, CVT AUTO $16,100 – 22,440 2012 Lexus RX 2012 RX450H Prestige Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide

$22,490

Lowest price, based on 17 car listings in the last 6 months

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Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.