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Lexus RX


Audi Q5

Summary

Lexus RX

The Lexus RX is a big seller for the Japanese brand - in fact, it’s the most popular model in the range in Australia, accounting for more than one-in-four new Lexus models sold, and its the third most popular luxury SUV in Australia, too. 

So when an updated version of the RX arrives, you can expect there to be some innovations worthy of attention. That’s certainly the case for the 2020 Lexus RX.

You might be able to pick the facelifted model by its styling changes, but only if you’re a trainspotter - the luxury large SUV hasn’t changed a whole lot since in launched in Australia in 2015.

Read on to find out what has changed, and whether the updated RX argues a strong case against its high-end, high-riding rivals.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L
Fuel TypePetrol
Fuel Efficiency8.1L/100km
Seating5 seats

Audi Q5

About two months ago we met up with the new Audi Q5, but only for a brief drive around our nation’s capital. Audi told us we’d get to know the mid-sized SUV better at the official Australian launch in July. When they said better, we didn’t realise they meant Melbourne-to-Adelaide-on-a-900km-road-trip better. 

That’s exactly what happened. But did we learn anything new apart from the fact The Big Lobster has been refurbished, that wild emus are the stuff of nightmares, that it’s still dark at 7:00am at this time of year in Victoria, or that Adelaide’s residential property market offers outstanding value?

What about how this new generation Q5 compares to its rivals such as the Mercedes-Benz GLC or BMW X3? Can you do skids in the dirt in a Q5? And the high-performance SQ5 costs how much?

Safety rating
Engine Type3.0L
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency8.5L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

Lexus RX7.6/10

The updated Lexus RX 2020 model brings some attractive additions and offers a number of compelling arguments against the German rivals it chiefly competes against.

The hybrid versions are truly efficient and impressive, but it’s the entry-level RX 300 Luxury that stands out as the potential value winner of this range. 

Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel and meals provided.


Audi Q57.8/10

The new-generation Audi Q5 is difficult to fault as a premium SUV. All grades feel well-crafted, plush and high-tech. They’re comfortable to sit in (for hours) and deliver impressive performance. If you take money out of the equation, the SQ5 is the pick, but the sensible sweet spot in the range is the 2.0 TDI Sport with its great torque and standard features.

Is the new generation Q5 enough to talk you out of a Benz GLC or BMW X3? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Check out Peter Anderson's video of the Q5 off-road driving experience in Germany here.

 

Design

Lexus RX7/10

While a number of luxury SUVs play it relatively safe when it comes to styling, the Lexus RX plays from a different angle in the segment. Angles. Yes, there are plenty. 

The styling changes are subtle unless your eye is tuned to the finer details. Things like the different shaped inlays for the spindle grille, the slightly reshaped bumper bar with integrated cornering lights, the new headlight internals… but at a glance, it looks pretty similar to before, albeit a little broader looking due to the horizontal emphasis on the front-end design.

How does that translate to interior dimensions? The interior photos should give you an idea, but there’s been a bit of work done for the three-row models to improve the back seat space.

The rear has seen small changes too, with L-shape tail-light inlays, and revised lower bumper design to again broaden the look of the car.

There’s not much to tell the difference in profile, other than new wheel designs (18s on the entry car, 20s on the high grade versions). The profile gives away the difference in dimensions when you compare the five- and seven-seat models. The five-seater is 4890mm long, while the L model is 5000mm from tip to tail. Both models size up at 1895mm wide, and the five-seater is 1690mm tall - the same height as the 350 L model. The 450h is 1685mm tall, and the L models are 1700mm high.

One thing is for sure - the smaller RX model pulls off its sharp-edged sheetmetal look a bit better than the L versions. But what about interior dimensions? The interior photos should give you an idea, but there’s been a bit of work done for the three-row models to improve the back seat space.


Audi Q58/10

You can’t see it but this second-generation Q5 sits on a new platform – the same one underpinning the A4, the A5, and the big daddy of Audi’s SUV range, the Q7. As well as changing the Q5's on-road behaviour the new platform is partly responsible for the SUV’s new exterior dimensions.

The Q5 is a mid-sized SUV with a 2819mm wheelbase (+12mm). While end-to-end length has grown to 4663mm (+34mm), and height to 1659mm (+4mm), width is unchanged at 1893mm.

BMW’s X3 is 21mm longer, 16mm taller and 12mm narrower.

You can pick the new Q5 from the previous one courtesy of a distinctive shoulder line, running the length of the body, and twisting over the wheel arches; making it more athletic, and to these eyes, more attractive than the last edition. 

No macho wheel arch extensions, side steps or bull bar here. This is a citified SUV, rather than an outback 4x4 blazer.

The grille has been restyled to create more depth around its frame, and according to Audi, if you look (and imagine) hard enough you should be able to see the a letter Q in the redesigned headlights.

All grades have the roof-top rear spoiler which is almost madatory on SUVs these days. The rear diffuser houses what appear to be chrome exhaust tips, but they're just cosmetic – the actual exuast pipe hides under the car. Trust me, I got under there and checked.

Now with bigger interior dimensions, too, the Q5’s cabin is completely new, from the display that sits high on a low dashboard, to the centre console redesigned around a new shifter and touch-pad for the media system, steering wheel and instrument cluster. 

Take a look at the interior photos, the Q5's cabin is not as blingy as the Benz, but more luxurious than the Beemer. The Q5’s interior is plush without being over-the-top, but with a high quality well-crafted feel from the soft-touch plastic door sills to the wood and aluminium trim on the centre console.

 

Practicality

Lexus RX8/10

The biggest news here is that the media unit is now a 12.3-inch touchscreen. Rejoice! You don’t need to use the horrible trackpad controller anymore… but you can if you want to. It has capability for both. And it now has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which is also new to Lexus

Of course it works a lot easier than the old one, plus there are four additional USB ports added to the cabin for all variants - making a total of six! - and all models also get paddle shifters on the steering wheel now, too.

Other elements of the cabin are pretty untouched - there are still plenty of buttons below the screen, plus decent storage consisting of cup holders between the front seats (and in a fold-down arm rest in the rear), plus there are cup holders in the third row for those models, too. There are bottle holders in the doors, and a few loose item storage bins (including a wireless phone charger in front of the shifter).

The seats are very comfortable (more so in the Luxury and Sports Luxury versions - the F Sport has firmer seats that aren’t as cushy) and offer good adjustment for taller occupants. The electric steering column adjustment is a nice touch, too. 

Rear seat space is fine for adults and good for little ones. There’s decent headroom in models without the panoramic roof (the big glass ceiling does eat into space a bit), while knee-room is good across the board. Toe room is tight. 

The second row can be slid fore and aft to improve space in the boot, or allow more space for those in the third row (if equipped). The rearmost seats now have a bit of adjustment as well, though still are best considered bonus seats for kids. 

The luggage capacity varies depending on the model. The five-seat versions of the RX have a claimed storage space of 506 litres to the top of the back seat (or 453 litres to the cargo blind, as previously stated), while the seven seat model has 176 litres behind the third row seats, and 591L when the rearmost seats are folded down. You might want to consider a roof rack system for the roof rails if that boot space isn’t big enough.

The storage space includes a cargo cover (or retractable tonneau cover), and you can option a liner if you so choose. 


Audi Q57/10

You’re not buying an SUV to lord it over people in the traffic, right? If you are, it shouldn’t be the only reason, because the Q5 is as practical as a pair of cargo pants, and nowhere near as embarrassing to be seen in.

The Q5’s boot is 10 litres bigger than the previous model's boot dimensions at 550 litres, matching the luggage capacity of the Benz GLC and BMW X3.

If you’ve optioned the sliding second row, the boot space can be increased to 610 litres up to the cargo cover and if you’ve ticked the option box marked air suspension, like an elephant kneeling down, the Q5 will lower itself to make loading easier.

The Q5 is a five seater (there's no third row), if you’re looking for seven seats then head on over to our Q7 review here.

Cabin space has been increased, and without resorting to a predictable Dr Who reference: when you’re in the driver’s seat the cockpit does feel larger than you’d expect from the outside. I can also sit behind my driving position with about 40mm to spare. Good considering I’m 191cm tall. Headroom is also excellent back there.

The middle rear position is the Q5’s short-straw seat, as it means sliding over to straddle the driveshaft hump and perching on a harder surface.

In the back row you’ll find two cupholders in the fold-down centre armrest and two more up front, while all doors have bottle holders.

Storage space elsewhere isn't great: the centre console bin isn’t the biggest or deepest and there were times where I wished for a large, open storage dish under the dash to throw my wallet, keys and phone into rather than stuffing them in the cup holders and door pockets.

Price and features

Lexus RX8/10

How much does the Lexus RX cost? Well, that varies depending on the model in the range, as there’s an extensive price list to consider, here.

There are three grades of Lexus RX - the entry-level Luxury, the athletically-intent F Sport, and the plush Sports Luxury flagship. 

And then you need to consider there are three different powertrains available - the four-cylinder turbocharged RX 300, the V6 petrol RX 350, and the petrol-electric hybrid RX 450h.

And then there’s the question of how many seats - because depending on the grade, you can go for a seven-seat version of the RX with a now-adjustable third row seat setup.

So yes, it’s a bit complicated, but the table below should help you figure out the model comparison for yourself:

Grade

Price (RRP - before on-road costs)

Five-seat models

 

RX 300 Luxury

$71,920

RX 300 F Sport

$86,800

RX 300 Sports Luxury

$92,700

RX 350 Luxury

$81,890

RX 350 F Sport

$93,970

RX 350 Sports Luxury

$99,870

RX 450h Luxury

$91,090

RX 450h F Sport

$103,440

RX 450h Sports Luxury

$109,340

Seven-seat models

 

RX 350L Luxury

$85,000

RX 350L Sports Luxury

$101,600

RX 450hL Luxury

$94,470

RX 450hL Sports Luxury

$111,070

Wondering if you should compare the Luxury vs the F Sport for your needs? Here’s a rundown of the trim levels and standard features in each.

The Luxury grade gets 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and daytime running lights (with auto on/off function and auto high-beam), front cornering lamps, rains sensing wipers, and a power tailgate with kick-to-open function. 

Inside, Luxury models have the new 12.3-inch touch screen infotainment display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, along with a GPS navigation system (sat nav), DAB digital radio (as well as CD player and AM/FM radio), Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, a 12-speaker sound system, six USB ports (four front, two rear), wireless phone charging, smart key entry and push-button start, power adjustable steering column, climate control air-con and rear privacy glass (tinted windows). It runs a fake leather trim standard, and yes, there is a sunglass holder.

The step up to F Sport and Sports Luxury grades now sees adaptive LED high-beam headlights using “blade scan” technology fitted - they don’t shine the light at the road, rather at a mirror that spins at up to 12,000rpm and, according to the brand, boosts brightness and reach compared to conventional LED units. These variants run on 20-inch wheels, too. 

F Sport and Sports Luxury models also gain adaptive variable suspension, plus they get leather interior trim (with sports seats in the F Sport) with heating and cooling for the front seats. The rear seats have retractable sunshades.

Being the sport edition, the F Sport features additional bracing front and rear for “an even more dynamic character”, with sports suspension, a Mark Levinson sound system with 15 speakers, and a 360-degree camera display.

Top-spec Sports Luxury versions further add power-adjustable rear seats, second-row seat heating and semi-aniline leather upholstery. No heated steering wheel or rear seat entertainment system, though.

Want more? There is a premium package - or Enhancement Pack, in Lexus speak - for Luxury variants which adds a panoramic sunroof on five-seat models or a smaller moonroof on seven-seaters, among other niceties. The cost and additional equipment varies depending on the model. You might need to shop around for rough-and-tumble accessories like a nudge bar, bull bar, rubber floor mats or less shiny rims. 

Colour choices (or colors, as your autocorrect may insist) across the RX range include black, white, red, blue, silver, gold, grey and brown (bronze), plus there’s now a lovely green hue, too. You can choose between four different interior colour combos, as well. 

Safety levels are up across the board - read the section below for more.

Across the board there is good value here, but that’s especially the case in the entry-grade RX 300 Luxury. 


Audi Q58/10

How much is an Audi Q5? Well, it depends on which one you mean, there are several trim levels. The range kicks off with the Design grade, which is diesel-only and the most affordable in the line-up at $65,900. That's a $2000 increase over the out-going Q5 entry price. Above this is the Sport grade which you can have with a diesel engine for $70,700, or petrol for $73,211 (RRP). At the top of the range is the SQ5 which (for now) only comes with a petrol engine for $99,611 - about $7000 more than the previous version.

At the launch Audi announced the S Line Black special edition would be available with just 70 going on sale in Australia. The diesel version of the S Line black pack is $82,900, while the petrol is $86,611.

Here’s a value curve ball for you. So, the entry-grade Porsche Macan SUV has the same drivetrain as the petrol Q5, with the same output, and lists for $80,410. I’m just going to leave that there, okay?

For a bit of a model comparison Mercedes-Benz’s GLC is within the same price range starting at $65,990 for the entry grade diesel and tops out at $89,900. A Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 is a rival to the SQ5 and costs about the same, at $101,400.

The Design grade’s standard features include a 7.0-inch screen (it's a multi-function display, but not a touch screen) with sat nav and a reversing camera, DAB+ digital radio, CD player, Bluetooth connectivity, front and rear parking sensors, keyless entry (also called a smart key), push button start (some call it keyless go or start, stop), three-zone climate control air conditioning, xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights, power tailgate, leather seats, power front seats, aluminium roof racks, ambient interior lighting, rain sensing wipers and 18-inch alloy wheels. There’s also some impressive advanced safety equipment, from AEB to blind spot warning (read more about the safety features below).

Stepping up to the Sport grade brings all of the Design’s standard features and adds 20-inch alloys, adaptive LED headlights (not the adaptive headlights), sports seats up front, a larger 8.3-inch screen (for multimedia including a DVD player) plus the amazing 12.3-inch ‘virtual cockpit’ instrument cluster, a DVD player, 10-speaker sound system inclusing a subwoofer and a panoramic sunroof. There’s also more safety equipment such as adaptive cruise control.

The SQ5 is a high-performance member of the Q5 family (an even more hardcore RSQ5 is also tipped to come) and picks up the Sport's standard features, and adds 21-inch alloy wheels with red brake calipers, adaptive dampers, tinted windows (rear), more premium leather upholstery, heated front seats and a sliding rear row. There’s also not-necessary-but-nice things such as the colourful ambient lighting, aww… pretty. There’s more safety equipment, too, such as auto parking.

The optional 'Comfort' package ($2200 on the Design and $1900 on the Sport) brings things such as a sliding rear seat and electric steering column adjustment.

The $3300 'S Line' package is only available on the Sport and adds a tough body kit and 20-inch alloy rims.

Then there’s the 'Technik' package (only available on the Sport and SQ5). This technology pack adds some cool gadgets such as a head-up display, Bang & Olufsen 19-speaker stereo and matrix LED headlights.

There's also a 'Parking Assistance Package', using four wide-angle cameras to cover the entire area immediately around the vehicle, also incorporating 'Park assist' self parking to help steer you into parallel or perpendicular parking spaces.

'Adaptive damper control', and 'Adaptive air suspension' are optionally available on the quattro S tronic sport models.

There's no 'Premium Package' but then again the Q5 is already a prestige vehicle.

There are ten paint colours to choose from with Brilliant Black and Ibis White being no cost options, but you'll have to pay for such metallic hues as 'Azores Green', 'Manhattan Grey', 'Floret Silver', 'Matador Red', 'Java Brown', and 'Navarra Blue'.  

Apple CarPlay for your iPhone and Android Auto for Samsungs and the rest aren't offered on the Q5, which is a shame because these apps are excellent for maps and messaging.

Out of phone reception and GPS range we noticed the navigation system was patchy and when we really needed it in the dark, in the bush. 

Engine & trans

Lexus RX7/10

If engine specs are your thing, prepare yourself! We’ve got the outputs and ratings for each of the powertrains here.

The entry-level RX 300 models run a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine, with 175kW of power (at 4800rpm) and 350Nm of torque (at 1650-4000rpm). It is front wheel drive only, and comes with a six-speed automatic transmission. There is no manual transmission available. 

Stepping up in engine size and horsepower is the RX 350, which has a 3.5-litre petrol V6 engine producing 221kW (at 6300rpm) and 370Nm (at 1650-4000rpm) in five-seat guise, while the seven-seater has slightly less power due to packaging constraints on the exhaust system - it has 216kW and 358Nm. RX 350 models have an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive (a clever AWD system that mainly drives the front wheels but can add rear wheel drive when necessary - it’s not a serious 4WD / 4x4 system aimed at off road capability). 

The RX 450h adds an electric motor and battery pack to the mix, with the 3.5-litre V6 engine and nickel-metal hydride battery back teaming with a 50kW electric drive rear motor. The combined power output of the hybrid is 230kW, but Lexus doesn’t specify a combined torque figure. It is AWD and uses a CVT with six-step ratios

The kerb weight varies depending on the model, with RX 300 variants between 1890-1995kg, the RX 350 five-seater models between 1980-2090kg and seven-seaters between 2090-2150kg, while the RX 450h’s extra powertrain hardware means it weighs between 2105-2210kg (five-seat) and between 2220-2275kg (seven-seat).

The gross vehicle weight (GVW) ranges from 2500kg for the RX 300, 2575kg for the RX 350 five-seater (2720kg - seven-seater), and 2715kg (2840kg - seven-seater). So, be wary if you have a heavy family.

Planning on having a tow bar or tow hitch receiver fitted? The braked towing capacity for the RX 300 is just 1000kg, while the RX 350 can cope with 1500kg and so can the 450h… but the 450hL model is unable to tow. 

Want a diesel RX? What about a plug in hybrid or LPG model? None of those are available at the time of writing.


Audi Q59/10

There are three engine specifications currently in the Q5 line-up. Here are the stats for you. The regular Q5's have a 140kW/400Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel and a 185kW/370Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol. The SQ5 is a different beast with a 3.0-litre turbo-petrol V6 making 260kW (349 horsepower) /500Nm. Those are pretty impressive torque and power specs. (a turbo-diesel V6 version is expected to arrive soon).

The four cylinders have a seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission, while the V6 has an eight-speed dual-clutch. Yes, no manual gearbox.

The four-cylinder Q5s come with a new form of Audi’s all-wheel drive (AWD) system called 'Quattro Ultra' which switches between front- and AWD on demand. The SQ5 sticks with full-time AWD.

Have it fitted with a towbar and the Q5 has a braked towing capacity of 2000kg and a 200kg towball download. If you're serious about hauling a van or trailer perhaps you should read this towing review.

For the 0-100km/h sprint Audi says the 2.0TDI takes 7.9 seconds, the 2.0TFSI can better it with 6.3 seconds, while the SQ5 is almost a second ahead on speed with 5.4 seconds. Not bad accleration for SUVs with a weight of about 1.8 tonnes.

 

Fuel consumption

Lexus RX7/10

Fuel economy is yet another consideration, and while there is a hybrid model, there are no fuel-sipping hybrids… plus Lexus’s turbo petrol doesn’t claim as low a figure as some of its rivals. There is an eco mode in each of the models. 

For instance, the RX 300 claims fuel consumption of 8.1 litres per 100 kilometres, while the RX 350 is said to use 9.6L/100km for the five-seater and 10.2L/100km for the seven-seater. 

The hybrid RX 450h five-seater claims fuel use of 5.7L/100km, and the seven-seat RX 450hL is said to use 6.0L/100km. 

Fuel tank capacity is 72 litres for the RX 300 and RX 350, while the RX450h variants have a smaller 65-litre tank - that shouldn’t affect your potential mileage per tank though, because it uses less fuel. 

Note: you need to use 95RON premium unleaded, no matter the model.


Audi Q58/10

The official combined fuel consumption figure for the diesel 2.0 TDI Design is 5.3L/100km, which jumps to 5.5L/100km in the Sport grade. Similar mileage for both then, regardless of what flavour fuel you use.

We drove the 2.0 TDI Sport grade 261.3km and the trip computer reckoned we were using an average of 6.5L/200km, which is pretty handy diesel fuel consumption. Fuel tank capacity is 65 litres.

The petrol 2.0 TFSI is claimed to consume 7.3L/100km. After about 200km in the S-line Black, with that engine under the bonnet, our trip computer was reporting 11.1L/100km, but there had been some hard acceleration in 'Sport' mode, and the odd spot of dirt road fun which activated the AWD. Still, not bad fuel economy.

The SQ5 officially consumes a combined 8.7L/100km, and after 189.8km our trip computer told us it was using 9.9L/100km. Not too shabby.

Driving

Lexus RX7/10

The company claims it has made a lot of changes to what’s under the metalwork of the RX, and I can tell you the results are a bit varied. 

The revisions to the chassis - thicker stabiliser bars and softer suspension, revised bearings, retuned electric power steering, a new torque vectoring by braking system - generally make for a more enjoyable and comfortable drive experience. But that wasn’t really the case in one of the grades I drove.

It has to be said, though, that my time at launch was spent in the RX 450h Sports Luxury, which gets a plush adaptive suspension tune on the 20-inch wheel package, and also the RX 300 F Sport, which likewise runs 20s but has a firmer suspension setup with extra body stiffening.

What it meant was the two felt vastly different - the F Sport felt overly thumpy and fiddly over rippled or lumpy sections of road where the front suspension felt flummoxed. We didn’t do an off road review, but there was a long, patchy driveway on the road loop where the RX 300 F Sport didn’t feel at home at all. Ground clearance is 200mm for most models, while the 450h is 195mm. 

That said, the RX 300 F Sport was perfectly fine on the freeway back to Sydney, and decent on slow-moving city streets, too. 

On the other hand, the RX 450h was generally more composed, sedate in its actions, more measured in the way it handled bumps. Even without air suspension (as many rivals offer), the Sports Luxury model was a more Lexus-like experience - even if there is more noticeable road noise because the powertrain is so quiet.

The retuned steering offers a lightness that makes it feel easy to drive, and the turning radius (aka turning circle) is 11.8m, which is decent for a car of this size (no matter whether you get the smaller alloy wheels or the larger chrome wheels). Oddly, though, the lock-to-lock movement feels very hard to judge. 

When it comes to performance figures, the hybrid versions have the edge. The 0-100 time for the five-seat RX 450h version is 7.7 seconds, while the five seater RX 350 claims 8.0sec and the RX 300 is said to do the sprint in 9.2sec. The L models are slower (RX 450hL - 8.0sec; RX 350L - 8.2sec).

The RX 450h felt effortless to drive - admittedly relaxed, and not exactly fun, but sorted and comfortable and predictable enough.

The overall impression for the drive experience in the updated RX range at launch was somewhat limited, as we didn’t get a chance to drive the biggest-selling RX 350 model, which accounts for about half of all RX sales here. A shame, too, because we get the feeling it’d be the sweet spot for a lot of people.


Audi Q58/10

The Aussie launch saw us climb into an SQ5 in Melbourne and step out 900km away in Adelaide, with a few hundred kays in between in the 2.0 TFSI S Line Black and a 2.0 TDI Sport. Yes, mum, we stopped to sleep somewhere overnight.

That amount of time sitting in anything should make you fairly familiar with it, but the lack of twisty roads meant there was little opportunity to really put the handling to the test. But fear not, we’ll road test the Q5 soon.

Despite the absence of corners, much was still learnt about this second-generation Q5.

First up, despite the next destination being entered into the SQ5’s sat nav, I was lost within moments of leaving Melbourne airport. The combination of a messy sat nav display and my bad sense of direction was going to be an issue over the next billion kilometres.  

Back on track, and now in the civilised wilds outside Daylesford, only 100-odd kays north-west of Melbourne, we lost our GPS signal, phone reception, and therefore, sat nav.

We drove into the tiny, far western Victorian town of Dunkeld in a 2.0 TDI Sport, the xenon headlights of which hadn’t been cutting though the total darkness of the Aussie bush roads as well as the LEDs in the SQ5, although the ambient interior lighting package of 30 selectable colours was fabulous.

The next day we left Dunkeld for Kingston (home of the giant Lobster) in South Australia, in the limited launch edition S Line Black - the petrol version. Riding shot gun was the head of Audi’s Quattro AWD department, Dieter Weidemann, who kept pointing at emus and calling them wombats.

While he may not know much about Australian fauna, mechanical engineering is an entirely different story.

He told us he'd created a new 'Quattro Ultra' version of Audi’s AWD system that switched from front-wheel drive to AWD when you needed it. Then he encouraged me to try and trick it into losing traction on a dirt road. So I did, and what should have been a great power slide was an uneventful, perfect corner with no loss of traction. Although the Q5 has a good ground clearance of 200mm it's not designed for rough terrain. If you're looking for something with excellent off road capabiity then take a look at our off road reviews here.

Leaving the Lobster we bolted north road on the Princes Highway which has a surface resembling a cheese grater, but even at 110km/h there was hardly any road noise or wind noise intruding into the cabin – and that was the case on all variants. 

Back in the SQ5, the optional rear air suspension made the course chip bitumen and regular undulations feel like carpet, but the trade-off was a bit of body roll.

That turbo V6 in the SQ5 is more beautiful than brutal – those performance figures we covered don't lie. Gurgling deeply at idle and barking through the gears, the V6 sounds wonderful, but there is some synthetic aural enhancement happening.  

Stepping out of the SQ5 and back into a 2.0 TDI Design felt like a demotion, but 400Nm is hefty hitting power, and I enjoyed the torque on tap from 1750rpm. That diesel engine is remarkably quiet, too – enough to fool me into thinking we were in a petrol car until I saw the tacho and its 4500 rpm redline.

The 2.0 TFSI S Line Black is no SQ5, but its 185kW/370Nm are the type of figures V8 diehards used to boast about around barbecues back in 1997.

The Design and Sport grades didn’t have air-suspension which meant a firmer, but still comfortable ride.

Steering in all variants is spot-on. The SQ5’s especially felt well-weighted with great feedback from the wheels and road below.

Visibility all-around is excellent, helped even more by a new positioning for the wing mirrors which also reduces wind noise.

We arrived in Adelaide just in time to enjoy the city’s mid-week peak-hour traffic, our SQ5 covered in dirt, looked tough. Bumper to bumper this was the slowest part of the 900km, we were tired and the adaptive cruise control was a massive help as we trundled our way to the airport for the trip home.

What really impressed me was that after nearly 1000km, and a day where we spent nearly eight hours in either the driver’s or co-pilot’s seat, I was never sore, or even uncomfortable.

That’s saying a lot. I’ve been sitting here in an expensive, hi-tech chair typing for only two hours and my back is killing me.

Safety

Lexus RX9/10

The safety rating of the Lexus RX range hasn’t changed since it was tested back in 2015, when it scored the maximum five-star ANCAP score. The criteria for achieving that score has shifted over the years, but the brand has improved safety equipment on all models in the RX range.

Features on all models include autonomous emergency braking (AEB) that works at high and low speeds with day/night pedestrian detection and daytime cyclist detection, plus every model has adaptive cruise control, lane trace assist (an evolution of lane keeping assist and lane departure warning that aims to keep you centred in your lane). Blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and a new “parking support braking system” incorporates rear AEB for static and moving objects into the mix, too. 

There’s also traffic sign recognition, and every Lexus RX has 10 airbags (dual front, front side, driver and passenger knee, rear side and full length curtain).

There are dual ISOFIX baby car seat anchor points and three top-tether restraints in all RX models, while models with a third row also get an additional top tether.  

The entry-level Luxury model gets a reversing camera with front and rear parking sensors, while the F Sport and Sports Luxury variants add a 360-degree camera. No model has semi-autonomous parking assist. 

Where is the Lexus RX built? Japan is the answer. 


Audi Q58/10

The Q5 has the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating, but so does a little Audi A1, the difference is in the advanced safety features.

All Q5s (including the SQ5) come standard with city AEB which can recognise pedestrians and detect a potential collision at up to 85km/h, and reduce speed by 40km/h in an emergency. All models also feature ABS, ASR (also known as ESP), EDL and Brake Assist, as well as rear cross traffic alert, blind spot monitor and warning and an alert which will sound if you’re about to open your door on a cyclist or car.

Another cool standard safety feature is a rear collision detection system which will flash the hazard lights to alert surrounding traffic to a potential impact.

All Q5 have eight airbags, and there are two ISOFIX mounts and three top tether points across the rear row for child and baby seats.

The Audi Q5 is built in Mexico.

Ownership

Lexus RX8/10

Lexus continues to resist offering a capped price servicing plan in Australia, and still doesn’t have a pre-pay service plan like all of its rival luxury brands. It’s a shame you can’t include a maintenance cost in your car finance, as that’s one of the big advantages of a pre-pay plan.

That might factor into your ownership decision, but indicative costs for servicing are about what you’d expect for a large luxury SUV. Read our Lexus service cost story here

Service intervals for RX models are every 12 months/15,000km - and you when it’s time for a service you can either get a free loan car, or have your car collected and returned to your home or office when a service is required.

While the likes of Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Volvo are all still running a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty plan, Lexus has a four-year/100,000km plan. Hey, you could consider that an extended warranty based on the status quo! There’s the same cover for roadside assist, too. 

If you’ve got concerns over common problems, complaints or issues, whether there have been transmission problems or issues with the engine or suspension - or if you just want to know our reliability ratings and resale value projections, you can head to our Lexus RX problems page.


Audi Q56/10

Audi covers the Q5 with a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Maintenance is scheduled every 12 months/15,000km. There is no capped price service cost scheme available.

Under the boot floor you’ll find a space saver spare. Better than a tyre repair kit, but still not good enough in Australia if you’re covering long distances in remote areas.