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Lexus RX


BMW X5

Summary

Lexus RX

For those of us unlucky enough to remember the first Lexus RX to launch in Australia, the memories aren’t the fondest.

If you can’t remember it, just picture the stodgiest-looking SUV you can - make it so bland a mere picture of one could cure insomnia - dragging a glass-walled cube behind the rear wheels. 

All of which makes the current-generation RX so incredible. I mean, just look at it; those big rims, the 3D-effect grille, the outrageous lines and creases. It’s about as far removed from its snooze-worthy predecessors as it is possible to get.

Little wonder, then, it has emerged as the second-strongest performer in the Lexus line-up. And with the RX recently refreshed (and with a seven-seat RX L model added for the first time) its high time we took a closer look at the Japanese premium brand’s large SUV. 

Safety rating
Engine Type3.5L
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency9.6L/100km
Seating5 seats

BMW X5

Way back in 2009, the X5 was the first SUV to get the go-fast treatment from BMW’s high-performance M division. At the time, it was a crazy thought, but in 2020, it’s easy to see why Munich went down the (then) road less travelled.

Now in its third generation, the X5 M is better than ever, partly thanks to BMW Australia’s insistence on forgoing its ‘regular’ variant for the piping-hot Competition version.

But just exactly how good is the X5 M Competition? We had the unenviable task of putting it to test to find out.

Safety rating
Engine Type4.4L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency12.5L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

Lexus RX7.9/10

A comfortable and ferociously well-equipped offering (even from the cheapest trim level) - and with a very good ownership package to boot - the RX has earned its place high in the Lexus pecking order.

There are faster, more pulse-quickening SUVs available, of course, but as a sedate suburban warrior, the RX is hard to fault. For ours, we'd be opting for the bang-for-bucks sweet spot of the Luxury trim, paired with the punchy-but-efficient hybrid powertrain.


BMW X58.3/10

After spending a day with the BMW X5 M Competition, we can’t help but wonder if it’s the ultimate vehicle for families.

On one hand, it nails the practicality brief and is loaded with standard equipment, including the key advanced driver-assist systems. On the other, its performance in a straight line and around corners is otherworldly. Oh, and it looks sporty and feels luxurious, too.

That said, we could absolutely live with the high fuel bill if this was our daily driver, but there’s only one problem: does anyone have a spare $250,000?

Is the new BMW X5 M Competition the ultimate family vehicle? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

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

Design

Lexus RX

This current RX is like the butterfly that’s emerged from the caterpillar-cocoon of the older models, looking plenty premium and serving up road presence by the bagful. 

No matter which model you go for, you’ll find the angry 'Spindle Grille' up front (which, for ours, is reminiscent of the Predator’s toothy grin, while 20-inch alloys are an impressive size, and a very un-Lexus body kit wraps from the front end all the way around to the rear spoiler.

The interior (check out the interior photos for a closer look) is premium-feeling, if a little busy, with the doors and dash covered in a combination of soft-touch materials and padded leather. 

The brushed aluminium-look central tunnel that separates the front seats is super wide, as it houses the cupholders, drive-mode selector and the strange mousepad that controls the entertainment system, but feels nice under the touch and becomes a kind of focal point in the cabin.


BMW X59/10

In our humble opinion, the X5 is one of the best-looking SUVs on the market today, so it’s no surprise the X5 M Competition is a knockout in its own right.

Up front, it cuts an imposing figure thanks to its version of BMW’s signature kidney grille, which has a double-slat insert and is finished in gloss-black like most of the exterior trim.

That said, it’s the front bumper that sucks you in with its large air dam and side air intakes, all of which have honeycomb inserts.

Even Laserlight headlights add a touch of menace thanks to their integrated dual-hockey-stick LED daytime running lights, which look plain angry.

Around the side, the X5 M Competition is a little more restrained, with the 21- (front) and 22-inch (rear) alloy wheels the obvious giveaway, while the more aggressive side mirrors and air breathers are a lesson in subtlety.

At the rear, the visual aggro is most apparent thanks to the sculpted bumper, which incorporates a chunky diffuser that plays host to the bi-modal exhaust system’s black chrome 100mm tailpipes. Utterly delicious, we say.

Inside, BMW M has put its best foot forward to make the X5 M Competition feel that little bit more special than the X5.

The eyes are immediately drawn to the multifunction front sports seats, which manage to be super supportive and super comfortable at the same time.

Like the middle and lower dashboard, door inserts, armrests, knee rests and door bins, they’re covered in supple Merino leather (Silverstone grey and black in our test vehicle), which even has honeycomb insert stitching in some sections.

Black Walknappa leather trims the upper dashboard, door shoulders, steering wheel and gear selector, with the latter two unique to the X5 M Competition, alongside the red start-stop button and M-specific seat belts, scuff plates and floor mats.

A black Alcantara headliner adds some more luxury to the equation, while our test vehicle’s gloss carbon-fibre trim ensures there’s some sport in it, too.

Technology-wise, there’s the 12.3-inch touchscreen, which is powered by the now-familiar BMW Operating System 7.0, although this version gets M-specific content. That said, it still has gesture and always-on voice control, but both fall short of the rotary dial’s greatness.

The 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and windshield-projected head-up display get the biggest M makeovers, though, with the new M Mode giving them a focused theme (and turning off the advanced driver-assist system) for spirited driving.

Practicality

Lexus RX

With dimensions stretching 4890mm long and 1895mm wide, the RX sits squarely in the large SUV category, and there’s plenty of space for riders in both the first and second row.

Up front, there is a cup holder for both driver and passenger and extendable pockets in each of the front doors, and the deep cubby that separates the front seats adds plenty of storage space, and is home to two USB connections, a power outlet and and aux connection, but there is no sunglass holder. 

The interior dimensions ensure there’s plenty of space in the back seat, although the central stack that houses the air vents and another power outlet does jut out into the rear legroom of the middle-seat passenger. There are two bonus cupholders hidden in a pulldown divider that drops from the middle seat, and two ISOFIX attachment points along the backseat. 

Open the automatic tailgate (by waving your hand in front of the Lexus badge) and you’ll find 453 litres of luggage capacity, with boot space increasing to 942 litres by folding the backseat down. Theres’s a sliding cargo cover (the SUV version of a tonneau cover), too. 


BMW X59/10

Measuring 4938mm long, 2015mm wide and 1747mm tall, the X5 M Competition is well and truly a large SUV, and that means good things for its practicality.

Cargo capacity is generous, at 650L, but can be increased to a truly massive 1870L with the 40/60 split-fold rear bench stowed – an action that can be done via the boot’s manual-release latches.

The boot has six tie-down points for securing loads, as well as two bag hooks and two side storage nets. There’s also a 12V power outlet, but the best part is the power-operated parcel shelf, which stows itself underfloor when not in use. Awesome!

There are plenty of genuine in-cabin storage options, too, with both the glovebox and central bin of the large variety, while the front door bins can carry an astounding four regular bottles. The rear door bins can fit three apiece.

The two cupholders at the front of the centre console actually have heating and cooling, which is pretty hot/cool (bad pun intended).

The second row’s fold-down armrest has a pair of basic cupholder as well as a shallow tray, which joins the small driver-side cubby as the two most random storage spaces on hand, while map pockets are attached to front seat backrests.

Given the size on offer, it’s no surprise the second row is nice place to sit in. Behind my 184cm driving position, more than four inches of legroom is on offer, while headroom is also generous, at two inches, despite the standard fitment of a panoramic sunroof.

Better yet, the transmission tunnel is quite short, meaning there’s plenty of footwell to go around, which will come in handy given the rear bench can accommodate three adults abreast with relative ease.

Child seats are also a cinch thanks to the outboard seats’ top-tether and ISOFIX anchorage points – and the generous aperture of the rear doors.

Connectivity-wise, there’s a wireless smartphone charger, a USB-A port and a 12V power outlet ahead of the aforementioned front cupholders, while a USB-C port is found in the central bin.

Rear occupants only get access to a 12V power outlet, which is below their central air vents. Yep, the kids won’t be happy with the lack of USB ports to recharge their devices with.

Price and features

Lexus RX

The Lexus RX arrives in plenty of trim and engine combinations, so exactly how much yours will cost is largely up to you. 

The minimum RRP, though, is $74,251, which will buy you an RX300 Luxury. A little further up the price list lives the RX350 Luxury, at $81,421, which makes use of a bigger engine, while the hybrid RX450h Luxury will set you back $90,160.

The range then steps up to the second of three trim levels, the F Sport, for which you’ll be paying $86,551 for the RX300, $93,721 for the RX350 and $102,460 for the RX450h. 

Finally, the range tops out with the Sport Luxury trim, which will push the budget to $92,701 for the RX300, $99,871 for the RX350 and $108,610 for the RX450h.

Okay, so that’s what you’ll be paying. But take a deep breath now, we’re dive into the model comparison.

Even the Luxury-badged cars are a premium package, arriving with 20-inch alloy wheels, tinted windows, a powered tailgate, LED headlights and fog lights (with daytime running lights) , a smart key with keyless entry, roof rails and rain-sensing wipers. Inside, expect a laundry list of standard features, including dual-zone climate control, sat nav (which, as far as GPS navigation systems go, is a breeze to operate), push-button start and leather trim.

Your 8.0-inch screen (it’s not a touch screen) pairs with digital radio and 12 speakers, there’s Bluetooth for your MP3s, as well as wireless charging (though iPhones require a special case), and you get heated and cooled front seats, too. Be warned; there is no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto anywhere in the range.

Step up to the F Sport - a pseudo sport edition - and you’ll add a bigger, 12.3-inch infotainment screen that adds a CD player and DVD player and pairs with a better Mark Levinson sound system complete with 15 speakers (including a subwoofer). You get a new colour head-up display (HUD), too, and a whole heap of sport-flavoured styling flourishes.

Compare that to the Sport Luxury, which adds with soft leather trim elements, heated seats in the second row (vs just the front seats on the F Sport trim) and a power folding function for the backseat. There’s no heated steering wheel here, but then, who needs one in Australia? The adaptive front lighting system cn be switched off, too, should you prefer the traditional approach. 

Colours include 'Titanium' (metallic grey), 'Sonic Quartz' (white), 'Premium Silver', 'Onyx' (a kind of black), 'Graphite Black', 'Vermilion' (red), 'Metallic Silk' (rose gold), 'Deep Metallic Bronze' (a fancy brown) and 'Deep Blue'.

How many seats? That would be five. If you want a third row seat, then you’re shopping for the RX L, as the standard RX is strictly a five-seat affair.

A thick accessories catalogue includes specialty floor mats, roof rack and boot liner options, bull bar, nudge bar and rear seat entertainment system options, as well as a panoramic sunroof, which will set you back $3675. You won't find Homelink though (which automatically opens your garage door), as it's yet to be made available in Australia. 


BMW X58/10

Priced from $209,900 plus on-road costs, the new X5 M Competition is $21,171 dearer than its non-Competition predecessor and commands a $58,000 premium over the M50i, although buyers are compensated for the extra spend.

Standard equipment not already mentioned includes dusk-sensing lights, rain-sensing wipers, auto-folding side mirrors with heating, soft-close doors, roof rails, a hands-free power-operated split tailgate and LED tail-lights.

Inside, satellite navigation with live traffic, wireless Apple CarPlay support, DAB+ digital radio, a 16-speaker Harman/Kardon surround-sound system, keyless entry and start, power-adjustable front seats with heating, a power-adjustable steering column, four-zone climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and ambient lighting feature.

Our test vehicle is finished in stunning Marina Bay Blue metallic paintwork, which is one of several no-cost options.

Speaking of which, the options list is surprisingly short, but a highlight is the $7500 Indulgence Package, which bundles in some features that should be standard at this price point, such as cooled front seats, a heated steering and heated rear seats.

The X5 M Competition’s main rivals are the wagon versions of the yet-to-be-released second-generation Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S and Porsche Cayenne Turbo ($241,600), which has been kicking around for a couple of years now.

Engine & trans

Lexus RX

There are three (petrol) engine size options on offer; a turbocharged 2.0-litre in the RX300, a punchy V6 in the RX350 and a hybrid set-up in the RX450.

First up, the four-cylinder turbo engine serves up 175kW/350Nm (decent specs for a smaller engine), channelling it through a six-speed automatic gearbox and sending it on to the front wheels.

The six-cylinder petrol engine is good for 221kW/370Nm, sending that power to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. 

The hybrid (it’s not a plug-in hybrid) option uses the exact same engine, but paired with an electric motor that lifts the total output to 230kW/335Nm. That combination pairs with a CVT auto, sending its horsepower to all four wheels. 

All are petrol powered (there are no diesel or LPG options, and no manual transmission, for that matter), and for ours, the combined engine specs of the hybrid powertrain make the most - and most expensive - sense. 

While the Luxury, F-Sport and Sport Luxury models all have adjustable drive modes (including Eco mode), tweaking throttle response and gearing, only the Sport Luxury serves up true variable suspension. 

The F Sport and Sport Luxury also make use of the Lexus AWD system (though 4WD aficionados will notice the lack of low range that prevents it being a true 4x4). The RX300 is front-wheel drive, with no rear-wheel drive options anywhere in the range.

Expect a braked towing capacity of at least 1000kg (provided you’ve picked a tow bar/tow hitch receiver from the accessories catalogue) with a gross vehicle weight that starts from 2500kg.

For reported problems and maintenance, including transmission problems, battery and oil type, and changing your timing belt or chain, see our owner’s page.


BMW X59/10

The X5 M Competition is motivated by a monstrous 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol engine, which punches out a formidable 460kW of power at 6000rpm and 750Nm of torque from 1800-5800rpm, with the former up 37kW, while the latter is unchanged.

Once again, a near-perfect eight-speed torque-converter automatic transmission (with paddle-shifters) is responsible for swapping gears here.

This combination helps the X5 M Competition sprint from a standstill to 100km/h in a supercar-scaring 3.8 seconds. And, no, that is not a typo.
 

Fuel consumption

Lexus RX

For the smaller, turbocharged engine, Lexus claims fuel economy of 8.1 litres per 100km on the combined cycle, with emissions pegged at 189g/km of CO2. Stepping up to the RX350 increases fuel consumption numbers to 9.6L/100km and 223g/km, while the hybrid gets by with impressive mileage of just 5.7L/100km and 131g/km.

Expect a 72-litre fuel tank that requires 95RON fuel in the 300 and 350, while the hybrid’s fuel tank capacity is 65 litres.


BMW X56/10

The X5 M Competition’s fuel consumption on the combined-cycle test (ADR 81/02) is 12.5 litres per kilometre, while its claimed carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are 286 grams per kilometre. Both are a little keen considering the level of performance on offer.

In reality, though, the X5 M Competition really likes a drink – a very large drink. We averaged 18.2L/100km over 330km of driving, which predominately took place on country roads, while the rest was an even split between highways city and traffic.

Yes, there was plenty of spirited driving, so a more balanced real-world figure would be lower – but not by much. Indeed, this is a vehicle you buy if you don’t care how much it costs to fill up.

Speaking of which, the X5 M Competition’s 86L fuel tank takes 95RON petrol at minimum.

Driving

Lexus RX

If BMW serves up the 'ultimate driving machine' and Mercedes delivers 'the best or nothing', then surely the review tag line for the RX SUV range should be 'easy like a Sunday morning'.

Sure, there are sportier-feeling SUVs - and faster ones, too - but there is an easy comfort to the way the RX goes about its business that you’ll undoubtedly appreciate more frequently than you would harder suspension, more in-touch steering and the endless pursuit of speed and 0-100 performance figures.

For the record, though, the hybrid cars will sprint from 0-100km/h in a brisk 7.7sec, a smidge quicker than the 8.0sec of the regular V6.  The RX300 records a far more leisurely 9.2sec. 

Probably most impressive, the RX doesn't feel overly large and cumbersome, and nor does its turning radius, and it’s equally at home in the cramped inner city as it is eating up kays on the freeway. The six- or eight-speed transmission is silky-smooth seamless, switching between cogs without you even noticing, and the cabin is commendably quiet - especially when you're coasting though the ‘burbs - locking the worst road noise outside out of the cabin. 

You can inject a little excitement by selecting 'Sport' or 'Sport +' via the central dial, tweaking the accelerator and steering settings, and in Sport Luxury cars, firming up the suspension, removing some of the lolling about in corners, though there’s no air suspension.

While the F-Sport and Sport Luxury cars are AWD-equipped, the off road capability is hampered somewhat by its ground clearance, big chrome-look wheels and skirtings. This is an SUV built for the city over the bush, but you likely don’t need us to tell you that.


BMW X59/10

Surprise, surprise: the X5 M Competition is an absolute hoot in a straight line – and around corners.

The level of performance on tap is unhinged, with the 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 serving up body shot after body shot.

Off the line, the X5 M Competition hunkers down and then delivers its 750Nm just above idle (1800rpm), holding it all the way to 5800rpm. That’s a staggeringly wide torque band, one that ensures it will relentlessly pull in any gear.

And just as the torque curve springs back into action, peak power arrives at 6000rpm and reminds you that you’re dealing with 460kW underfoot. Make no mistake, this is a truly epic engine.

A lot of the credit has to go to the eight-speed torque-converter automatic, though, as it is almost flawless. We particularly like its responsiveness – it literally kicks down a ratio or two before you think you’ve pushed the accelerator pedal hard enough.

That said, it often has a hard time recognising when the fun is over, holding onto lower gears for longer than required before eventually upshifting.

And while it’s smooth, it is still quick in operation. Just like the throttle, the transmission has three settings, which progressively up the ante. For the latter, the softest setting is too soft, while the medium setting is just right, and the hardest setting is best left for the track.

Needless to say, we adore this combination, but one word of warning: the bi-modal sports exhaust system doesn’t serve up enough aural pleasure. There’s no mistaking this for anything but a booming V8 soundtrack, but characterful crackles and pops are absent.

Now, put your hand up if you assume every M model has a bone-crunching ride… Yes, us too… But the X5 M Competition is surprisingly the exception to the rule.

It comes with Adaptive M Suspension Professional, which consists of double-wishbone front and five-link rear axles with adaptive dampers, which mean there’s bandwidth to play with, although BMW M usually targets sportiness over comfort, even for their softest setting.

Not this time, though, as the X5 M Competition rides a lot better than expected, no matter the setting. Simply put, it’s compliant when other M models are not.

Does this mean it deals with all road imperfections with aplomb? Of course not, but it’s more than liveable. Potholes aren’t nice (but when are they?), and its firmer tune makes speed bumps more challenging to deal with as a passenger, but they’re not deal-breakers.

Despite the apparent focus on in-cabin comfort, the X5 M Competition is still an absolute beast through the bends.

When you’ve got a 2310kg kerb weight, physics are well and truly working against you, but BMW M evidently said, ‘To hell with the science’.

The results are mind-boggling. The X5 M Competition has no right being this agile. In the twisty stuff, it feels like a much smaller car to drive.

Yes, there’s still body roll to contend with in the corners, but most of it is cancelled out by the stunning active anti-roll bars, which do their best to keep things balanced. Handling is also improved by the chassis’ increased torsional stiffness.

Of course, the X5 M Competition’s electric power steering also deserves a shout-out here. It’s super direct, so much so that it’s almost twitchy, but we really love how sporty it feels. Feedback through the wheel is also excellent, which makes cornering even easier.

As always, the steering has two settings, with Comfort well-weighted, while Sport adds a little too much heft for most drivers.

This set-up goes a step further with all-wheel steering, which adds a lot of the agility. It sees the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction to their front counterparts at low speed to improve manoeuvrability, and in the same direction at high speed to optimise stability.

And, of course, the rear-biased M xDrive all-wheel-drive system provides prodigious grip alongside the Active M Differential, which makes the rear axle a better performer when powering out of corners with earnest.

As we found out on some very icy country roads, the electronics let the driver get away with just enough fun (or terror) before stepping in and keep things on track. M xDrive also has a looser Sport setting, but needless to say, we didn’t explore due to the prevailing conditions.

Given the outputs on hand, the X5 M Competition comes with an M Compound Brake system that consists of massive 395mm front and 380mm brakes discs with six- and single-piston callipers respectively.

Braking performance is strong – and it needs to be – but of greater interest is this set-up’s two pedal-feel options: Comfort and Sport. The former is relatively soft from the get-go, while the latter gives plenty of initial resistance, which is right up our alley.

Safety

Lexus RX

Even the cheapest RX (which, admittedly, isn’t all that cheap) arrives with a long list of standard safety features, including a reversing camera, blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, AEB, lane assist and parking sensors (but no park assist). 

You’ll also find 10 airbags, and twin ISOFIX mountings for you baby car seat, as well as cruise control and the usual suite of braking and traction control systems.

The Lexus RX received a five-star ANCAP safety rating, the best possible ratings outcome, when tested in 2015. The Lexus RX is built in Japan.


BMW X59/10

ANCAP awarded the diesel versions of the X5 a maximum five-star safety rating in 2018. As such, the petrol X5 M Competition is currently unrated.

Advanced driver-assist systems impressively extend to autonomous emergency braking, lane-keep and steering assist, blind-spot monitoring, front and rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality, speed-limit recognition, high-beam assist, driver attention alert, tyre pressure and temperature monitoring, hill-start assist, hill-descent control, park assist, surround-view cameras, front and rear parking sensors, among others. Yep, there’s not much missing here…

Other standard safety equipment includes seven airbags (dual front, side and curtain plus driver’s knee), the usual electronic stability and traction control systems, anti-lock brakes (ABS) and brake assist (BA), among others.

Ownership

Lexus RX

Expect a four-year/100,000km warranty (that's 12 months longer than BMW or Mercedes-Benz, so think of it as a kind of extended warranty), and the RX will require a trip to the service centre every 12 months or 15,000km.

Your first service cost is gratis, and the total maintenance cost for each service is available online - so there are no surprises at the dealership.

For common problems, complaints, issues and the like, visit our Lexus RX owner’s page. But your owner’s manual should be required reading, too. Traditionally, Lexus product ranks well in reliability ratings, resale value and initial value rating charts. 


BMW X57/10

Like all BMW models, the X5 M Competition has a three-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, which is well behind the five-year standard set by Mercedes-Benz and Genesis in the premium segment.

That said, the X5 M Competition also comes with three years of roadside assistance.

And its service intervals are every 12 months/15,000km, whichever comes first. Several capped-price servicing plans are available, with the regular five-year/80,000km version costing $4134, which, while expensive, is not surprising at this price point.