Lexus RX VS Range Rover
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.
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|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
As part of the Jaguar Land Rover family, Range Rover will be part of the group's push into an electrified future from 2020 - and it's already had some practice, albeit not very successfully.
The brand new PHEV 400e, though, already looks better than its previous efforts. With up to 51km of pure electric range claimed, is this the Rangie for a new age?
|Engine Type||4.4L turbo|
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.
Our testing was far too brief to give a considered opinion of the PHEV's capabilities, particularly when it comes to the claimed 51km range of the car under battery power alone. We'll need to drive it locally, and with a juiced battery, to rate its abilities properly.
In terms of it having the chops to be a proper, luxurious Range Rover, it's possible to say that yes, that box has been ticked. Even with a smaller engine, the Range Rover (as tested) passed muster for ride, quiet running and comfort.
Is a petrol-electric hybrid your kind of Range Rover? Tell us in the comments section below.
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.
The Range Rover Sport is the smaller sibling of the Rangie, but both share the same DNA if not the same body panels.
Both shapes remain pretty faithful to the original Range Rover that first surfaced in the 1980s, with its distinctive floating roof, angular rear aspect and bluff nose, though features like the vertical door handles – and indeed the two-door design – of the original are long gone. Both present bluff, vaguely masculine visages, with large glasshouses accentuating their relative sizes.
Inside, both cars are spacious and airy, thanks to that big glasshouse, while the luxury quotient of both is high, thanks to highly refined surface areas and touch points.
About the only let down is the new dual multimedia screen's propensity to show both finger marks and glare, though adjusting the angle of the lower screen does reduce the latter.
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.
Both PHEVs are five-seat propositions only, with additional features set aside for rear seaters including climate controls and vents, loads of connectivity points, touch LED courtesy lights and a comprehensive middle armrest that offers storage and two cupholders.
ISOFIX points are mounted to the outside seats, bottles can be slotted in the doors, and both heating and massage functions can be optioned, along with headrest mounted control tablets.
Front seaters are equally cossetted, with heating, venting and massage seats available via the options list, along with a new, deeper centre console bin, a pair of cupholders and small bottle holders in each of the doors.
One of the big omissions on the hybrid car is any form of spare wheel, thanks to the battery array under the boot floor. A sealant kit and compressor is included, but if the hole is big enough, it won't help.
How do we know? A double flat down the right side of a test car rendered it a lame duck, thanks to large tears in the sidewall of one tyre.
The rear storage area loses 98 litres of space to the regular cars, too, with 802 litres available behind the rear seats, thanks to the load space floor height increasing by 46mm.
Price and features
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.
To start off, Range Rover Australia will only offer the PHEV drivetrain in two variants; the Range Rover Vogue PHEV 400e will cost around $210,000, while the smaller Range Rover Sport HSE PHEV 400e will start at around $146,000.
Both models will share the same drivetrain, which uses a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine and an 85kW electric motor to output 297kW/640Nm in total. Both cars are all-wheel drive, and have eight-speed autos as the only transmission option.
The Range Rover is the second most expensive variant in the four-engine line-up, only $1000 cheaper than the top-spec V8. The Sport, meanwhile, is about $3800 under the top spec HSE, and $12,000 dearer than the base six-cylinder powered version.
The pair makes up part of Range Rover's MY18 updated line-up, and both will score a new front bumper and grille, as well as new matrix LED headlights that can dim individual diodes to prevent blinding oncoming traffic. The rear bar has been lightly tweaked, too.
Inside, the pair come with the same dual multimedia screen system that launched with the Range Rover Velar, along with other small tweaks to interior finishes.\
As you'd expect, the Rangies are pretty well equipped, given their price point, with automated lights and wipers, leather interior, up to 17 (!) USB and 12v ports, heated and vented seats, sat nav, DAB+ digital radio, a Wi-Fi hot spot, a heated steering wheel, digital TV and Bluetooth streaming.
They both come with AEB as standard, but other driver aids like blind spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control are buried within the extensive options lists.
Engine & trans
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.
Parent company Jaguar has supplied its top spec Ingenium 221kW 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine, eight-speed auto and proper 4x4 drivetrain for the PHEV, matching it with an 85kW electric motor, 13.1kW/h battery array, transformer and inverter, as well as a charging plug under the front grille.
Combined outputs equal 297kW/640Nm.
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.
Range Rover claims an impressive combined fuel economy total of 2.8 litres per 100km... with the caveat that the battery array must be charged to full capacity.
A 13.1kWh battery that promises an EV range of 51km from a full charge complements its 105-litre petrol tank. Given, however, that our road test loop was less than 20km and the battery wasn't fully charged, we'll wait until we drive the PHEV on home soil to confirm the figures.
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.
Our time aboard the PHEV involved a little on-road work and a proportion of muddy, slick, off-roading that went a long way towards showing off the Rangie's dual personality.
With its array of digital off-road modes that includes snow, grass, gravel, rut and sand, the Rangie tackled some truly testing unsealed scenarios, including a river ford at 600mm (the Sport has an 850mm wading depth, the Rangie itself a 900mm rating), along with some of the slickest mud sections this tester had ever encountered.
And it handled them with aplomb, too. Whether you plan to take your $200k SUV off-road or not is irrelevant – the point is that it's built to do it, all day every day if need be.
On road, the 221kW 2.0-litre turbocharged engine is strong enough to haul the 2500-odd kilogram Rangie up to the national limit without too much fuss, thanks to the 85kW electric motor chiming in as required to boost the bottom line.
Unfortunately, we're not able to verify Range Rover's claims of 51km of electric range, because our tester was presented to us with less than 25km range – and that was quickly burned away on a two km EV-only off-road section.
We managed to restore five per cent of charge through regenerative braking and, erm, excessive revs over our short test run back to base, but we'll have to wait until it's on home soil to get a definitive read on the range of the PHEV.
Other road manners are typically Range Rover-like, with an imperious ride over road bumps, almost eerie silence from road and wind noise and excellent road manners in all modes – including the new-to-Range Rover 'Dynamic' mode.
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.
While AEB and lane departure warning are standard along with a rear view camera and front and rear sensors, other driver aids like adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist must be purchased as optional extras.
Both the Range Rover and the standard Range Rover Sport hold maximum five-star ANCAP ratings.
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.
Range Rover recommends servicing every 12 months or 26,000km, or more regularly if you use it in the bush on a regular basis. It offers a three-year, 100,000km warranty as standard, with free roadside assistance for the duration of the warranty.
No fixed price service plan is currently offered.