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Lexus RX


Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class

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

Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class

Not so long ago, even the idea of 'coupe SUV' would have been considered just a little bit silly.

But not anymore. This almost contradictory bodystyle is well and truly here to stay, as evidenced by the expanding catalog of available models pouring out of premium automakers.

Benz tells us, for example, that coupe versions make up some 25 per cent of its GLE sales in Australia.

Which brings us to this car – the second-generation GLE coupe. We were sent to its international launch to find out what’s new, what’s changed, and what Benz has in store for the Australian market, come its arrival in Q3 of 2020. Read on to find out what we discovered.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency6.9L/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.


Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class7.6/10

Whether you like Coupe SUVs or not is an entirely subjective matter, but there’s no denying the GLE 53 is a tech and spec showcase – some of the best Mercedes has to offer. If you can get past its relatively enormous dimensions and naturally compromised visibility – it’s even a hoot to drive.

The significant proportion of GLE consumers who are picking one of these over the regular version will be pleased with its many improvements. We’ll know more about how its price and specification lines up against primary rivals closer to its Australian launch date, so stay tuned.

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.


Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class8/10

The GLE Coupe has improved so much in its looks it’s easy to see when it came to the second-generation GLE underpinnings, Benz had it planned from the beginning.

It looks mean, especially the 53 with its giant toothy grille. The stance is low and wide for an SUV, and I’m especially a fan of the much more resolved rear end.

It’s less bulbous and frumpy, more slick and menacing, rounded out nicely by the flick of a lip spoiler jutting out the rear.

You might think proportionally, the very idea of a coupe SUV is silly, and there’s no denying that, but then, you and I might not be the target audience.

That audience is someone looking for an avant-garde take on what a sports car actually looks like. They will be pleased – I’d say its even more resolved than BMW’s X Coupes and a little less science-fiction than Audi’s Q8. The incoming Coupe version of the Porsche Cayenne will be a real challenger.

The presence the GLE Coupe exudes extends to the inside, where there’s plenty of Mercedes wow factor. Level what you might at the brand’s use of silver fittings and flat dual-screen set-up, there’s no denying Benz offers an interior entirely unlike its competition.

The GLE has one of the best of the recent Benz interiors, too. I love the way the big dual-screen set-up is framed in a 'leather'-clad bay of vents.

I also like the real wood trim on our test car which runs across the dash and flows into the doors, and of course the wholly unnecessary vent-overload (becoming a Benz signature) pride of place in the centre of the dash.

It’s complemented by the tape-deck style silver switches for the climate controls which protrudes underneath.

The materials are great, with Artico trim running down the centre console, and across each doorcard. Almost every surface you’ll reasonably come into contact with is soft, and the commitment to real metals and wood is admirable.

Other highlights include the comfortable seats (with heating which extends into the armrests!) and AMG wheel which is flashy and aggressive, well suited to such a gratuitous vehicle.

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. 


Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class7/10

Naturally, the entire idea of shaving a solid bit of roof off of an SUV is going to compromise the amount of ‘practicality’ you get from such a large footprint.

Those compromises are not only there, but they are quite obvious. The sheer height of the GLE makes peering over the edge of the bonnet difficult for parking, and the sloped roofline causes the A-pillar to eat quite a bit of your field of vision.

As you might imagine, it’s genuinely difficult to see much out of the back of the GLE Coupe. I caught myself continually adjusting the rear vision mirror – as though somehow it would grant me more vision out of the letterbox rear window.

While front passengers get away with plenty of room, rear passengers are a little harder done by. This is again, largely due to the roof pillar, which eats into headroom and gives the cabin a claustrophobic feel.

Thankfully, legroom is fantastic (largely due to that massive GLE platform), the trim is all just as good as it is in the front seats, and the back of the centre console gets its own set of climate controls, adjustable air vents and USB-C power outlets.

I’d hardly say there’s an abundance of bottle holders for occupants, but there are a few. They aren’t big or packaged in ideal locations, but you’ll be able to get away with four 300ml containers in the front and four in the rear.

The boot has been re-worked from the GLE Coupe’s predecessor, there’s five extra litres on tap, for a total of 655 litres (VDA) – so it’s far from useless, but still down significantly from the full size GLE which has a massive 825L of space.

Benz has made the boot more useful, too, lowering the sill by 60mm for easier access.

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. 


Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class7/10

There’s no dancing around the fact that the GLE Coupe is a niche, gratuitous product, targeted at a well-off consumer.

We don’t know what the pricing will be for the Australian range yet – and we won’t for a few months. But what we do know is Mercedes-Benz will only bring two highly specified variants to our market for the launch.

Those two will be the AMG-tuned GLE 53 which we were able to test at the launch, and a slightly lesser specified GLE 450.

Expect tall pricing, north of the wagon bodied GLE 450 ($111,341) for the 450 Coupe and outgoing GLE 43 Coupe ($145,829) for the GLE 53 Coupe.

The GLE Coupe will go into battle against the new BMW X6 (from $121,900) and Porsche Cayenne (from $116,600) and Audi Q8 ($128,900)

Standard features, as with the rest of the second-generation GLE range will be pretty good. We don’t know exactly what Australian-specified vehicles will get, but the GLE 53 as tested in Europe came with an extensive list of items.

You can expect all variants to get 20- to 22-inch alloys, electric tailgates, LED headlights, and Benz’ signature ‘Artico’ faux leather interior trim. The 53 also had a swish fully RGB adjustable interior ambient lighting suite and real wood in the dash. Very nice.

All GLE Coupes will have the impressive MBUX (I’m told it’s said “em bee you ex”, not “em bucks”) digital dash and multimedia suite, consisting of two 12.3-inch screens, one a digital dash, the other a multimedia screen.

The flashy setup also supports Apple CarPlay and Android auto as well as the usual connectivity via Bluetooth and packs several USB C outlets alongside Aux and USB 2.0. Our test 53 had a head-up display, too.

Mercedes’ built-in assistant (summoned by uttering 'Hey Mercedes') has perhaps the best native voice recognition on the market in terms of its accuracy and what it can do.

You can do things like adjust air conditioning, open the sunroof shade (oh yes, the GLE comes with a panoramic sunroof, too), and even find your specific music tracks via internet radio.

Then there’s the built in nav suite which is also one of the better ones on the market, featuring some very cool innovations.

The system will switch to the forward-facing camera when approaching an intersection and show you where to exit using augmented reality. Neat.

The 53’s system is also uniquely adjustable with AMG-specific themes and modes for the dash cluster, setting it apart from the lesser GLE 450 when it arrives.

It’s safe to assume there will be an extensive options list, including the 'E-Active Body Control' system (a $13,000 option on the wagon version) which uses cameras to detect road quality and optimize the air suspension system to suit. It also leans into corners. We’re keen to test it when it becomes available on the GLE 450.

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.


Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class8/10

Australia will only get one engine in the GLE Coupe – a 3.0-litre 48-volt mild-hybrid in-line six-cylinder twin-turbo petrol.

There will be two states of tune. The 450 will be able to make use of 270kW/500Nm, while the AMG-spec GLE 53 we were able to drive at the launch has more power still (thanks to extra hybrid augmentation on the turbo) for a total of 320kW/520Nm.

For a quick comparison, the single-variant Q8 produces 250kW/500Nm from a twin-turbo V6, while the equivalent X6 – the M40i packs a 3.0-litre twin-turbo in-line six to make 250kW/450Nm.

The GLE 53 has a nine-speed auto transmission which is specially tuned by AMG to go with the expanded list of available drive modes. All Australian GLE Coupes will be all-wheel drive via a permanently active '4Matic+' system.

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.


Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class8/10

The claimed combined cycle fuel consumption figure for the GLE 53 Coupe is 9.3L/100km, and while that’s not bad for something this heavy – keep in mind it’s an NEDC figure and not the widely-used WLTP figure so it could be a bit different by the time the GLE Coupe launches here.

Regardless, the fuel consumption is helped along by the abundance of ratios in the transmission and 48-volt mild-hybrid additions which help to remove inefficiencies from the drivetrain.

Our sweet but brief drive route in the Austrian Alps was not a fair reflection of fuel consumption, so we don’t have a real-world figure for you yet.

Expect the GLE 53 to require premium 98 RON unleaded petrol to fill its 65-litre fuel tank.

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.


Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class8/10

The resurgence of the in-line six engine is a glorious thing, and it makes the GLE 53 quite a fun, if chunky, unit to drive.

Acceleration is urgent thanks to the pre-spooled first-stage turbo, and the transmission flicks through the gears like there’s nothing to it.

It’s perhaps not as 'smart' on the downshifts as competitor transmissions from Audi or Porsche, although Mercedes was keen to point out this will get better over time as the car’s computer 'learns' your driving characteristics.

Thankfully though, unless you’re in 'Eco' mode, the GLE 53 does a great job of letting you ride each gear out, giving you that signature in-line six sensation of an entire revolution range of relatively even torque distribution – a characteristic which Mercedes has gone to pains to perfect on a turbocharged engine.

This has the result of letting you bask in the sound for precious extra seconds.

While not as furious as preceding V8s – it is distinct. It’s refined and rich, although more subdued than you might have come to expect from vehicles wearing the Affalterbach badge.

I’m a fan. It’s an engine befitting a more refined sports machine than a garish statement.

The AMG suspension tune was great, too, keeping the massive Coupe truly under control in the corners, while soaking up bumps (which we’ll admit, there were few of on Austria’s immaculate roads).

It was interesting to read colleague Matt Campbell found the standard suspension less than impressive on the regular SUV-shaped variants, so we’ll see what the more basic set-up on the 450 is like at the Coupe’s launch.

I have no complaints about the steering, which proved to be responsive, smooth and accurate, while not erring too far on the heavy side, even in 'Sport' or 'Sport+' mode.

My main complaints lie with outward visibility and the sheer size of the GLE’s body. There were some nerve-wracking moments piloting it at speed around narrow streets with tall snow embankments encroaching.

And no matter how much I adjusted my seat and mirrors, the view out the back was particularly compromised.

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.


Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class8/10

We don’t know exactly how Australian cars will be specified yet, but expect the two GLE Coupes to come with flagship active features like high-speed auto emergency braking (AEB), lane departure warning with lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, rear and front cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, 360 degree parking sensors and cameras, fully auto LED headlights, semi-autonomous parking, and driver attention alert.

The GLE has nine airbags and dual ISOFIX child seat mounting points in the outer rear seats.

Regular wagon bodied GLE class vehicles have maximum five-star ANCAP safety ratings as of 2019, and we’ll update you when we hear more about the Coupe variants.

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. 


Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class7/10

Mercedes continues with its three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty which is frustratingly standard across European premium car manufacturers in Australia– particularly its primary competitors, Audi and BMW. We doubt this will change any time soon.

Like VW Group competitors, though, Mercedes is now bundling in service costs in packages which can be tacked on to finance. The GLE requires servicing once a year or every 15,000km – we’ll update you on the cost of the packages closer to the Coupe’s local launch.