WHAT do you get when you combine the on-road performance of a luxury saloon with the functionality of a sports utility vehicle (SUV)? This – the all-new Lexus RX 350.
When the RX was first introduced to the world back in 1998, it elevated the SUV to that of a premium vehicle. Yes, it now has competitors like the Audi RS Q8 and the Porsche Cayenne but the new Lexus RX 350 is as Lexus defines it – the ‘Perfect Evolution of an SUV’.
The Lexus RX set new standards in the segment by providing all-terrain versatility, everyday usefulness, and the performance, refinement, and comfort of a premium sedan. It swiftly established itself as the best-selling vehicle in the Lexus lineup from the moment it was launched. To date, over three million RX’s have found a home.
The brand-new fifth-generation RX 350 is the ultimate incarnation of the RX formula, and marks a new chapter in the design language of Lexus.
The Spindle Grille has been a defining characteristic of the Lexus brand for the past ten years. But it has now evolved into something called the ‘Spindle Body’. The origin of the spindle body, which communicates athleticism and has a smart, dynamic design, is marked by the new seamless grille. Gone is the chrome strip that outlines the grille, instead the grille simply merges into the body.
Several bodywork components have undergone wind tunnel refinement to smooth airflow, reduce wind resistance, and eliminate turbulence. For instance, the front fascia effectively distributes airflow while cooling the brakes around the spindle body.
Flush window and door mouldings, as well as the installation of a fin on the bottom edge of the rear bumper that reduces airflow turbulence behind the rear wheels, are additional aerodynamic features. Even the position and design of the rear spoiler was carefully thought out.
The platform utilised for the new RX, called TNGA-K (Global Architecture – K), is a vast improvement over the one used for the previous iteration. It is also the same platform used for the Lexus NX and is also the underpinning for the Toyota Camry as well as the Harrier.
The overall rigidity has been improved thanks to the use of stronger metals in areas such as the side rockers, roof and b-pillars.
Thanks to the platform’s engineering, a longer wheelbase (+60mm), an additional cross-member, and more suspension bracing can all be installed, giving the RX a stiffer ride for better handling. It also sits slightly wider (+25mm).
The RX also incorporates a twin-latch mechanism for the hood in order to capitalise on the innovation used on the most recent NX. As a result, the bonnet can contribute to the front end of the car’s total rigidity while also providing a calmer ride and reduced vibration at high speeds.
Powertrain and Performance
Under that sleek hood lies a 2.4-litre turbocharged 4- cylinder petrol engine that produces 279PS and 430Nm of torque. The compact turbocharger includes a smaller turbine wheel and a turbine housing with nozzle tips that are tailored to the turbine blades. The compact size of the turbocharger also enhances transient responsiveness for more rapid acceleration.
Power is sent to all four wheels via the RX 350 Luxury’s Direct Shift-8AT 8-speed automatic gearbox, which now features a newly developed torque converter with a multiplate lock-up clutch and highly precise lock-up control to actively maintain a direct link between the engine and gearbox. Its ratio selection is broad, providing for forceful start-up acceleration while still allowing for comfortable high-speed cruising. The direct connection provides a driving experience similar to that of a DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission), with a smooth and positive take-off.
The full-time AWD system is electronically regulated and optimises front/rear drive torque distribution to suit diverse surface and driving circumstances. At any given time, 25% of power is sent to the rear wheels, but that is quickly increased to 50% during acceleration or when Sport mode is activated.
Lexus engineers wanted to improve driving quality and safety by ensuring constant traction on every terrain. This is accomplished by continuously assessing data from numerous sensors (wheel speed sensors, front-rear/left-right G sensors, steering angle sensors, and so forth) and dynamically modifying the front-rear torque distribution.
The new RX 350 Luxury uses adaptive variaBle suspension (AVS) that reacts to road conditions as well as the selected driving mode.
For example, when the steering wheel is turned, the dampening force increases to inhibit undesirable movements and improve the flat ride (stability).
The Drive Mode Select on the other hand allows you to choose between two damping force modes: Normal and Sport. Furthermore, the damping forces vary with vehicle speed, decreasing at lower speeds for added comfort and increasing as the speed increases for better control. When riding on uneven roads or when the system detects rough vibrations, the damping force will be kept low for ultimate comfort.
A Lexus has one of the quietest interiors of any premium SUV, and it is no different for the new RX350 Luxury. Unpleasant engine booming and ambient noise is kept down to a minimum by Active Noise Control (ANC). Depending on the noise information obtained by an onboard microphone unit, anti-noise waves are sent through the audio speakers at certain frequencies, lowering the cabin’s noise.
And just like the new NX, the new RX’s interior also adheres to the Tazuna concept, a design vision inspired by the Lexus Driving Signature. ‘Tazuna’ is the Japanese word for a horse’s reins, which are a vital part of the perfect interaction between rider and horse. The goal is to assist the driver focus on driving by creating an emotional connection with the vehicle.
The HUD (Head-up Display), instrument panel and central display are all laid up in a way that allows for a smooth line of sight, which helps to reduce driver head movement. There are three display modes to choose from: NORMAL, ECO, and SPORT, with each one prioritising information relevant to the setting.
The coloured head-up display has three settings that provide varying degrees of information: full mode includes the status of Lexus Safety System+ (LSS+) safety and driver assistance systems, standard mode summaries critical information at the lower edge of the display, and minimum mode merely shows the speed. It is adjustable in terms of position, rotation, and brightness.
The RX comes with a revolutionary Full HD 14-inch EMV (Electro Multi Vision) broad display that enables for simple usability and comfortable reading. It is the command and control centre for numerous vehicle activities, as well as the infotainment system. The driver can operate numerous features using a Dynamic Voice Recognition System, and communication is available by wired Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay, as well as a wired connection via the USB connector. The RX 350 Luxury comes with the Lexus Premium Sound System that has 12 speakers provided by Panasonic.
The front occupants of the RX have access to four USB ports (Three Type-C and one Type-A). The Type-C charging ports support charging at a maximum of 15W, allowing for faster device charging. For larger devices, there is a 12V accessory socket to plug into.
Rear passengers will also find two Type-C USB ports situated behind the centre console between the front seats. For quicker charging, both ports feature a 15W output. In addition, there is a 12V socket in the cargo compartment.
The seat upholstery design features L Pattern Embossing, which creates a compelling ambience with a ‘shadowy’ expression that changes with changing light situations. An L-shaped embossed pattern can be seen on the door trims and seat shoulders that are illuminated by outside light and internal illumination, adding shadows that create a 3-dimensional expression, inspired by the traditional Japanese ‘kageri’ (dark, gloomy) style.
Other features consist of:
- Heating and cooling ventilation for the front and rear seats
- Comfort Seat Design with 10-way power adjustment
- 4-way power lumbar support
- 2-way headrest adjustability
- Steering wheel switches with touch tracing operation function
- Indirect illumination from a spectrum of 14 colours to light up the cabin
- Cabin trim with Black Ash Open Pore Wood Finish
- With the rear seats in use, the available booth volume is 612 litres
The Lexus Safety System+ (LSS+) is a collection of active safety systems that warn the driver of potential hazards and can take preventive measures to avert accidents in everyday driving conditions.
LSS+ is an enhanced version of the LSS that combines current technology with new features. In addition to supporting the driver in avoiding accidents, the technology minimises fatigue and tension on long travels, allowing the driver to arrive at the destination feeling less exhausted.
The LSS+ suite in the new RX consists of:
- PCS – Pre-Collision System
- DRCC- Dynamic Radar Cruise Control with Stop & Go Function
- LDA & LTA- Lane Departure Alert & Lane Tracing Assist
- AHS – Adaptive High-beam System with BladeScan (uses 12 LEDs and rotating mirrors)
- RSA – Road Sign Assist
Other safety features include the Rear Traffic Cross Alert, Safe Exit Assist (SEA) and a Digital Panoramic View Monitor which uses cameras to capture a live 360° view.
Price and Warranty
Order books for the all-new RX 350 Luxury will be available at all Lexus Malaysia showrooms beginning May 17, 2023. The all-new Lexus RX 350 Luxury is priced at RM468,888 on the road without insurance and includes a 5-year warranty with unlimited mileage. All authorised Lexus service centres across the country provide comprehensive aftersales support. These service outlets have RX diagnostic equipment as well as technicians who have been properly educated on the model.