While luxury carmakers compete in almost every vehicle category, certain brands have laid claim to certain segments. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class owns the full-size sedan market and BMW dominates the sports sedan category with its 3-Series. But when it comes to the premium midsize crossover segment, Lexus is the champ with its RX line.
For the Japanese manufacturer, the numbers don’t lie. The RX is the best-selling model in its 26-year history, having sold 2.1 million units, representing 30% of Lexus’s total output since the company was established.
For the longest time, however, there was an air of domesticity surrounding the RX success story. In the US, the crossover’s market seemed to be composed of suburban mothers who upgraded from their Toyota Camrys. But with this new-generation RX, Lexus seems intent on dispensing with the supposed “soccer mom” image.
It’s a good thing Lexus did the sure-fire way of injecting excitement into the RX: It took the image of the stylish NX compact crossover, inserted it in the photocopier, and pressed "enlarge." Seen from the front, it’s difficult to tell them apart. There’s the massive spindle grille, the squinty triple-L LED headlights, the checkmark-shaped LED DRLs, and the clefts on both sides of the bumper that house the LED foglights.
All around, the RX has been sharpened and chiseled, giving it a sharper appearance. It’s a good look that gives this crossover a more masculine stance. The macho look is a good match for the new 20-inch aluminum wheels. The blacked-out C-pillars are a nice touch, indeed making the RX’s roof look like it floats.
Inside, the luxury has been improved in both looks and comfort. There’s an available 12.3-inch monitor that can display a full-screen map, as well as entertainment options. There’s an optional head-up display that can project important information on the windshield. And as a sure sign of increased driver orientation, the shift lever has been moved from the instrument panel to the center console.
Those who use the RX as an executive car will be pleased to know that rear-seat space has been improved. For those who want to be entertained while stuck in gridlock, dual 11.6-inch screens can be installed behind the front headrests.
Under the hood is a more powerful 3.5-liter V6 that generates 300hp, and this is mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission. Of course a hybrid variant is available, and powering it is also 3.5-liter V6 combined with an electric motor.
This wouldn’t be a luxury vehicle without the safety features, and here the RX doesn’t disappoint. It has a pre-collision system, a lane departure alert, automatic high beam, and lane keep assist.
As with most Lexus models, the one to keep an eye on is the F Sport trim. Like other F Sport cars, the RX F Sport has multi-information display made famous by the LFA, F mesh spindle grille, sport steering wheel, and F Sport emblems.
It’s only a matter of time before Lexus Manila brings in this desirable crossover. And we’ll be there to cover it when that happens.