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Lexus RX


Audi SQ5

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 SQ5

Audi's SQ5 is one of those marvellous cars that kind of came out of nowhere and instantly defined a genre. Technically, it probably shouldn't have existed. And for a company that is pretty much straight down the line, the decision to launch it as a diesel seemed extra odd. Not that we minded, of course.

The diesel engine was a masterstroke; André the Giant brawny, and with some clever engineering to make it sound like it actually wasn't an oil-burner. But it wasn't just a straight-line screamer - the SQ5 could corner, and it was tremendous fun while doing so.

So this second-generation car had a lot to live up to. But then - heresy of heresies - we found out that, for the moment at least, the SQ5 would be coming with a petrol engine. Without that Herculean torque figure, it's also slightly slower to the 100km/h benchmark.

So has Audi ended our love affair (by that I mean the one between the SQ5 and me)?

Safety rating
Engine Type3.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency8.7L/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 SQ57.6/10

It's no hot hatch, but it's fast, stylish and plenty enough fun to be considered the ultimate family all-rounder. Unless your kids are freakishly tall or you need to regularly carry wardrobes, it's a great family wagon that can easily deal with the day-to-day stuff, with a comfortable ride and plenty of space.

Some families, like mine, like some genuine performance with their practicality, and the SQ5 is all the car you'll ever need. It may not be the diesel, it may not have that lovely gravelly silliness, but it still looks and feels great, and is full of some of the most advanced tech in a fast SUV today.

Most important, though, it's just as much fun as it ever was.

Is the SQ5 still on your list without the diesel? Or are fast SUVs the work of the devil?

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 SQ57/10

The new Q5 is the usual studied restraint from Ingolstadt. No, it's not a striking piece of design, and some find it hard to tell the new car apart from the old one. Move up to the SQ5 and again it's a bit of a sleeper. The 21-inch wheels look brilliant, and the deeper bumpers and skirts, along with the lower ride height, add a bit of aggression, too.

Inside, the Nappa leather is very nice, especially with the detailed stitching and diamond quilting. There's more space in here than there was before, so while still cosy it doesn't feel tight. As with the rest of the Audi range, the new interior lifts the best bits of the A4, which thankfully did not include the weird pin-stripe detail on the console trim. It has gone the only way it should - out.

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 SQ57/10

As before, the SQ5 is comfortable but cosy. Front-seat passengers are, of course, perfectly fine,  and rear-seat dwellers have reasonable head and leg room - our six-foot-two teenager was happy enough back there. Rear-seat passengers can also choose their own climate-control temperature.

Two cupholders are provided front and rear, for a total of four, and the doors each have pockets with bottle holders.

Based as it is on the Q5, boot space is up over the old model by 10 litres, meaning between 550 and 610 litres when the rear seats are in place, and then 1550 litres with the seats folded. Like its cousin the Tiguan, the rear seats slide forward and back.

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 SQ57/10

One factoid I really like telling people is that the SQ5 was, for quite some time, the biggest-selling single Q5 model in the country, despite costing upwards of $90,000 on the road.

This new car weighs in at $99,611. Standard are 21-inch alloys, three-zone climate control, a 10-speaker stereo, ambient interior lighting, a comprehensive safety package, reversing camera, around-view cameras, front and rear parking sensors, auto park, keyless entry and start, nappa leather interior, active cruise control, electric heated front seats, sat nav, auto LED headlights, auto wipers, an electric (foot-wavey) tailgate, a wireless hotspot, Audi's 'Virtual Cockpit' digital dash and a space-saver spare.

The media system is Audi's MMI system, which is displayed on the 8.0-inch screen perched on the dash. Controlled by a rotary dial or a touchpad just in front of the dial, it's also got Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard. The sound is good and it's even better if you go for the $5600 'Technik package', which adds a 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen system, head-up display and the brilliant Matrix LED headlights, all of which we had on our test car. While $5600 isn't messing about, it's a fair bit of stuff, especially when you consider the Matrix LEDs alone cost half of that on some Audis.

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 SQ59/10

The diesel donk is out, replaced by Audi's 3.0-litre twin-scroll turbo V6. Power is a hefty 260kW, with 500Nm available from 1370rpm.

The two-tonne-plus (tare) SQ5 streaks from0-100km/h in 5.4 seconds, with power reaching the road via Audi's Quattro system with a mechanical centre diff. Torque is generally apportioned 40/60 front to rear, but can be 85/15 either way when needed. The eight-speed ZF continues on and is, as ever, brilliant.

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 SQ57/10

Audi claims a combined cycle of 8.7L/100km. We put the SQ5 to work on mountain passes, the suburbs and long motorway runs, returning 11.7L/100km, which wasn't bad for the amount of fun we had.

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 SQ58/10

The old SQ5 wasn't perfect, by any stretch, but goodness gracious was it a barrel of laughs. No car as heavy or as high-riding as the SQ5 had any right to be so much fun, but somehow it was, without the compromise of a super-hard ride or a din from fat tyres.

The numbers are a bit of a compromise; weight is down by around 130kg, but you're also missing 200Nm compared to the old car. The colossal torque figure was a big part of that car's appeal, and I did miss it. However, once I'd got over that, I found something just as fun underneath.

As with the rest of the Q5 range, it's quieter on the cruise and the cabin is once again the best in the business, borrowing much from the A4. With adaptive dampers set in comfort mode, it's comfortable and compliant and road noise is kept to a minimum. I'm not a huge fan of the light steering in this mode, but it's set to be low stress rather than man-handled.

Step up into Dynamic and everything beefs up; the ride stiffens and the car actually drops to lower the centre of gravity. The exhaust opens up and starts popping and farting, too, while the steering weights up and the throttle drops any easygoing slack.

Throwing it down through the bends of some NSW Blue Mountains back roads, this car sparkles. It's tons of fun (literally), with the security of the of the Quattro drivetrain underneath. The exhaust isn't quite enough to make me want to wind the windows down on a cold morning, but it's amusing enough inside given the stereo plumps up the racket a bit.

Despite being down on torque, it still feels very strong in the mid-range. It doesn't quite have the organ-squishing punch of the diesel, but the smoother, more linear delivery feels more conventional, particularly with most of the power heading to the rear wheels.

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 SQ59/10

The SQ5's five-star ANCAP rating (May 2017) comes courtesy of eight airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, exit warning system (which lets you know if you're about to clobber a cyclist, pedestrian or approaching car), cross-traffic assist (stops you turning across approaching traffic), blind-spot warning, forward collision warning (up to 250km/h), around-view camera and front and rear AEB.

There are three top-tether restraints and two ISOFIX points.

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 SQ57/10

Audi offers its three year/unlimited kilometre warranty, which is competitive in the segment, but much cheaper cars (and Lexus, for that matter) offer more. You can pay for a further four years and up to 160,000km on top of the standard warrant. Roadside assistance is yours for the duration of the standard warranty.

Servicing comes every twelve months or 15,000km, and you can purchase a plan to cover the first three years or 45,000km, whichever comes first, for $1870 - which is $280 more than any of the other Q5s.