Today Lexus reveals the fifth generation of the RX, a completely reinvented model that opens a new chapter for the original luxury SUV
The pioneering RX has become a Lexus best-seller over the last two decades, with more than 3.5 million sold worldwide since its introduction in 1998 – including more than 300,000 in Europe. The new model will be pivotal to the brand’s Lexus Electrified strategy.
Koji Sato, President of Lexus International, said: “For the all-new RX we were determined to keep the Lexus DNA of supreme quality, ride comfort and refinement and elevate the driving experience to the next level, delivering a unique Lexus driving signature”.
Together with the recently launched NX and newly revealed RZ, RX will help build the ‘Next Chapter’ of the Lexus brand. These three models represent the strongest offensive yet by Lexus in the D-E Premium SUV market, the heart of the company’s business.
Lexus has further developed its ‘Next Chapter’ design language for the new RX. This includes a new ‘spindle body’ that integrates the familiar spindle grille concept into the entire front of the vehicle. The RX team were also inspired by the RX’s rich design heritage. The result is a car that is instantly recognisable as an RX, but with a more dynamic, elegant and confident character.
Inside, the ‘Tazuna’ cockpit is focused on giving the driver direct, intuitive control of the vehicle, following the principal of ‘hands on the wheel, eyes on the road.’ It also improves the driving experience with its clean layout and new 14inch touchscreen.
Three electrified variants will be available in Europe. The core model for the UK and Western Europe is the RX 450h+ featuring Lexus’s benchmark plug-in hybrid electric technology. With the new RX 350h, Lexus introduces an efficient alternative to smaller diesel and petrol powertrains. And for those drivers looking for more exhilarating performance, Lexus introduces its first turbocharged hybrid model, the RX 500h, which comes with DIRECT4 drive force control.
To craft the new RX’s ‘Lexus Driving Signature’, Lexus optimised fundamental elements such as the centre of gravity, inertia specifications, weight reduction, rigidity, and powertrain to create a more natural dialogue between car and driver. The improved handling and responsiveness come from an enhanced GA-K platform that delivers high body rigidity and a low centre of gravity.
Leveraging Lexus’s world-class safety technology, the RX is equipped with third generation Lexus Safety System+, with improved Pre-Collision System, new Proactive Driver Assist and Extended Safety Package. It also features the latest multimedia platform with Hey Lexus voice assistant and functions accessible via the Lexus Link app.
Details of the all-new RX range, specifications, equipment grades and availability timing in each global market will be announced in due course, closer to the time of the model’s market launch.
A pioneering story
On its launch in 1998, the RX 300 became the world’s first premium SUV, creating a completely new car segment, with styling, acceleration, handling and quietness worthy of a luxury car. In 2005, the RX 400h became the world’s first luxury hybrid electric car, featuring a revolutionary powertrain that combined a V6 petrol engine with a potent electric motor. This technological breakthrough served as a launchpad for Lexus’s entire hybrid model line-up. Praised by customers for its comfort, refinement and quality, the RX became the first Lexus model to adopt Lexus Safety System+ technology, in 2016. Three years later, it showcased the world’s first BladeScan™ Adaptive High-beam System, a technology which uses a rotating blade-shaped mirror for enhanced illumination from LED headlights.
NEXT CHAPTER’ LEXUS DESIGN
“First we created a dynamic exterior design to express a captivating, engaging presence, and a solidly planted stance to evoke driving performance. We then refined the proportions to express the elevated driving experience and added new drivetrain technologies like DIRECT4.” – RXChief Engineer Takaaki Ohno.
Moving towards electrification, the designers undertook the challenge of incorporating the new ‘spindle body’ design identity into the new RX, achieved through stronger integration of the grille. This expresses a sense of the car’s electrified power and low centre of gravity. More compact, sharper headlights, air intakes and a wider track (+15mm) consolidate the stable, confident look.
To achieve a bolder stance, the designers created a sleeker front-to-rear posture, extending the bonnet, lengthening the wheelbase by 6mm and lowering the roofline by 10mm. Lending the car a coupe-like feel, the signature black rear pillar (Lexus’s ‘floating roof’) is now more three-dimensional in appearance, while the sweeping character line and large 21-inch wheels heighten the dynamic feel.
The triple LED headlights are sleeker, sharper and more horizontal in alignment. The design is accentuated by L-shaped daytime running lights. At the rear, the single-line Lexus signature tail lights underline the RX shape, while the wider track (+50mm) emboldens the stance and road presence. The introduction of the “LEXUS” badging on the tailgate creates a clean and contemporary look.
Accentuating the RX’s sporty credentials, the F Sport version will be visually distinguished by the design execution of the grille, skirts and aerodynamic front and rear bumpers. In Western Europe the F Sport grade will be exclusive to the RX 500h performance hybrid model.
Lexus developed the Tazuna cockpit concept to provide a more focused environment for the driver. Having first appeared in the new NX and RZ, it is now adopted for the new RX. Taking its name from the Japanese word for using reins to control a horse, Tazuna ensures direct yet intuitive control: information sources such as the multimedia screen, multi-information display, single-dial meter, centralised gauges and head-up display are grouped so their content can be read with minimal eye and head movement.
“A powerful blend of Tazuna cockpit design and luxury SUV spaciousness, with materials like high-quality leathers and Takumi-crafted suede embossed with the Lexus ‘L’, is exactly the kind of bespoke look we aimed for when designing this new interior,” explains RX Interior Designer Jota Kusakari.
The designers sought to create a minimalist, yet intuitive and thoughtful interior space. The front seats have been redesigned to offer top-class accessibility, excellent support and heating/ventilation. To provide proper ergonomic support around the waist, the sides of the seats have been given concave shape.
One of the highlights of the new RX is the availability of a leather-like interior trim that does not use animal products, created in response to growing demand from vegan and other eco-conscious consumers. The synthetic leather is used for the seats, steering wheel and shift knob, with a choice of colours.
An expression of the Lexus omotenashi hospitality, the Lexus Mood Selector allows the RX’s ambient lighting to be adjusted to suit the mood or the drive from a palette of 64 colours and 14 bespoke themes.
There is both ample luggage space and five luxury seats with excellent legroom. An increased couple distance (1010mm, +10mm compared to the previous model), new seat designs and more intelligent packaging have made the cabin feel more spacious. The luggage compartment has been made easier to access with a 30mm reduction in the loading height and is 50mm longer, thanks to intelligent tailgate design. The longer length and rear seats which split-fold 40:20:40 help accommodate bulkier items such as skis and surfboards.
A new e-latch system electronically controls the door release operation, making it smoother and more convenient.
LEXUS DRIVING SIGNATURE: COMFORT, CONTROL AND CONFIDENCE
Each RX model delivers the Lexus Driving Signature in its own way, supported by the quality of the shared platform and different powertrains. The common thread is to provide superior comfort and linear, direct responsiveness, giving all drivers control and confidence at all times.
The new RX uses Lexus’s GA-K platform, similar to that which underpins the new NX, but with a different set-up. The rear has been completely redesigned to extend the wheelbase and accommodate additional cross members and suspension braces that increase rigidity. This increased rigidity has allowed the suspension to be more accurately tuned, improving both performance and comfort.
The new platform has enabled a 90kg reduction in the car’s weight and a lowering of its overall height by 10mm, contributing to a 15mm lower centre of gravity. The wheelbase is longer by 60mm within in an unchanged overall length; the yaw rate has been reduced. The tracks are wider – +15mm at the front and +50mm at the rear – which, with up to 21-inch wheels, gives the RX a more confident stance and grip.
To save weight, Lexus used advanced materials such as 2GPa high-tensile steel for the centre pillars and aluminium for the wings and bonnet. The new structure also includes 1180 MPa steel for the rocker reinforcement and 1470 MPa steel for roof rigidity.
The new multi-link rear suspension delivers better lateral stability and anti-squat characteristics, enabling a substantial hike in performance. Capable of handling higher levels of torque, it also substantially reduces noise and vibration.
While ensuring Lexus-like quietness inside the cabin with sound-damping and vibration reduction measures, engineers and craftspeople created sounds to add a sense of power and performance. They also perfected the opening and closing sounds made by the doors.
EXPANDED ELECTRIFIED LINE-UP
The all-new RX leverages the Lexus Electrified strategy and the company’s more than 15 years’ experience in electrified vehicle technology with a multi-tech approach that pushes boundaries: highly refined self-charging hybrid performance or superior plug-in hybrid power and efficiency.
RX 500h: a game-changing performance hybrid with DIRECT4
2.4-litre turbo hybrid engine with six-speed automatic transmission and DIRECT4
Output: 366bhp/371 DIN hp/273 kW
Fuel consumption: 33.2-34.5mpg
Performance data provisional/tentative pending homologation
The game-changing new RX 500h is Lexus’s first turbocharged hybrid, developed to provide high-end electrified performance.
Using a completely new hybrid architecture comprising a 2.4-litre turbo engine and six-speed automatic transmission, it delivers 366bhp. The front electric motor is positioned between the combustion engine and the transmission (which has a clutch on both sides), enabling great flexibility in power delivery.
There is also an 80kW e-Axle, a compact, modular package housing a motor, gearing and an ECU, located between the rear wheels. Its compact dimensions help secure more space in the cabin and load compartment.
Power delivery is controlled by DIRECT4, an exclusive new Lexus drive force technology which recently debuted on the RZ 450e. This intelligent system constantly balances the power and torque between the front and rear axles in any driving situation, automatically and seamlessly shifting the drive force between the two axles in milliseconds – more precisely than any mechanical system could.
DIRECT4 communicates a better feel between the road and steering wheel and delivers improved handling stability and driving dynamics at high speed. Importantly for the RX 500h, it also enhances ride comfort with instant torque that helps control body movement.
In line with the model’s high performance, the front brakes have opposed callipers. Dynamic Rear Steering (DRS) determines the optimum steering angle for the rear wheels.
RX 450h+: the first plug-in hybrid electric RX
2.5-litre plug-in hybrid electric powertrain
Output: 302bhp/306 DIN hp/225kW
Fuel consumption: 235.4-256.8mpg
Performance data provisional/tentative pending homologation
Lexus drew on its electrification expertise to produce the RX 450h+ plug-in hybrid, which it believes will be a logical step-up for many of its current RX 450h customers. Expected to be the best-selling RX model in the UK and Western and Central Europe, it features a four-cylinder 2.5-litre hybrid engine and a rechargeable lithium-ion Battery with 18.1 kWh capacity. An additional rear electric motor enables full-time all-wheel drive.
The plug-in system produces 302bhp and is expected to deliver 0-62mph acceleration in around seven seconds. Overall, it offers roughly the same output as the outgoing RX 450h, but with more torque and faster acceleration. With more of the power coming from the electric motors, driving feels effortless yet refined. It will also give significantly lower fuel consumption and emissions. Lexus’s target CO2 emissions (WLTP combined cycle) are than 26g/km with fuel economy of less than 235.4mpg.
The battery’s size and capacity and Lexus’s electrification know-how combine to deliver an EV driving range of around 40 miles (target figure, pending homologation) and enable all-electric driving at speeds up to 84mph. Crucially, high efficiency is maintained when the Battery charge is depleted, as the vehicle then switches seamlessly to its self-charging hybrid system.
RX 350h: efficient fourth generation self-charging hybrid
2.5-litre self-charging hybrid electric powertrain
Output: 242bhp/245 DIN hp/180kW
Fuel consumption: 41.1-42.2mpg
Performance data provisional/tentative pending homologation
The new RX 350h is characterised by the improved smoothness and efficiency of its fourth generation self-charging hybrid electric system. This 2.5-litre petrol drivetrain provides 242b hp and 0-62mph acceleration in 8.0 seconds, performance comparable with the current RX 450h, while at the same time producing lower emissions. It will be a strong alternative to competitors with small-displacement engines and ideal for customers who prioritise comfort and efficiency.
INNOVATIVE LEXUS MULTIMEDIA AND CONNECTIVITY
The new RX delivers advanced connectivity that is both faster and more stable, providing the latest multimedia technology, “always connected” services and the convenience of over-the-air updates. With smartphone, navigation, vehicle commands, multimedia functions and cloud connectivity, there are about 100 ways for the driver to interact with their vehicle.
A 14-inch touchscreen, one of the largest in the RX’s class, is fitted as standard. As well as the anti-glare screen there are buttons to access the most frequently used functions. Graphics are presented in HD for excellent visibility in all lighting conditions, while the system’s CPU operates 3.6 times faster than the current one.
Alongside an embedded navigation system, the new RX also provides cloud services as standard (in markets where the service is available). The car’s DCM (data communication module) provides always-on connectivity, with access to live information on traffic events, accidents and road conditions.
The new multimedia system includes a smart voice assistant, ‘Hey Lexus’. that responds to questions and commands given in a more natural style of language. Easy smartphone integration is provided as standard – wireless for apple CarPlay and with a wired connection for Android Auto. A wireless charging tray is available, with 50 per cent quicker charging performance.
In addition to established Lexus Link remote functions such as driving analytics, hybrid coaching, fuel level monitoring and “find my car” function, new functions are available for the RX 450h+: monitoring the level of Battery charge, scheduling charging and a charging timer. The app also allows remote locking and unlocking of the vehicle, opening the tailgate, operating the climate control and activating the hazard lights so the RX can be spotted in a car park.
High grade versions of the RX come as standard with a new 21-speaker Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound audio. Developed by Lexus’s exclusive audio partners, the system is optimised for the car’s interior architecture.
ADVANCED DRIVER SUPPORT
Lexus introduces many advanced human-centred technologies in the new RX to enhance comfort, convenience and life on board, reinforcing the spirit of omotenashi hospitality.
The RX can be specified with a digital rear-view mirror which gives the driver a wide, unobstructed field of vision, using real-time images from the car’s reversing camera.
For easier driving in confined spaces, the Digital Panoramic View Monitor uses cameras to capture a live 360° view around and a pre-recorded view under the car (the cameras now benefit from automatic cleaners). It also creates a virtual 3D image of the RX, showing the vehicle as if seen from above.
An Advanced Park system is also available, developed from that on the Lexus LS flagship saloon. It provides automated control of the steering, shift operation and braking and uses the car’s array of four cameras and 12 ultrasonic sensors to gain an all-round picture of the immediate surroundings. It will also recognise up to three regularly used parking spots.
SAFETY AND DRIVER ASSISTANCE
The new RX benefits from next-level active safety and driver assistance systems featured in the latest generation of Lexus Safety System+ with upgraded functions and increased scope for accident risk detection and prevention.
The improvements include further expansion of the Pre-Collision System’s ability to detect motorcycles and other objects in the car’s path. It can also recognise collision risks with oncoming traffic or crossing pedestrians when making a turn at a junction. Its detection response is quicker and the ability to avoid an impact is increased by Emergency Steering Assist.
Enhancements have been made to the Adaptive Cruise Control so that it now more quickly recognises traffic cutting in in front and, in conjunction with upgrades to Lane Trace Assist, follows a more natural line through bends. The ACC has also been expanded to respond to more signs and commands, including warning signs and STOP signs.
While Lexus Safety System + is fitted as standard on all European models, owners of higher- grade models can choose an Extended Safety Package. This includes Lane Change Assistance (LCA), which provides automatic lane change steering on the motorway and Front Cross-Traffic Alert, which uses radar monitoring to warn the driver of traffic approaching from either side.
A feature new to the RX, Pre-Collision System with Active Steering Assist, determines when there is a high possibility of collision with a pedestrian ahead or with an object. If the system also determines that it is difficult to avoid the collision with brake control alone – but that it might be avoided using steering control –Active Steering Assist is deployed, in addition to braking and the triggering of an alert.
Proactive Driving Assist helps maintain a safe distance to cars in front – even when cruise control is not engaged – and it helps the driver to avoid pedestrians and obstacles.
The Driver Monitor uses a camera mounted above the steering wheel to constantly check the condition of the driver. It can slow or stop the car if driver doesn’t react to alerts.
The RX’s e-latch electronic entry and exit system is linked to the car’s Blind Spot Monitor to provide a Lexus-exclusive exclusive Safe Exit Assist function. This prevents the door from being opened if cars or cyclists are detected, approaching from the rear. Lexus estimates this system can help prevent more than 95 per cent of the accidents caused by inadvertent door opening.
NEW LEXUS RX OUTLINE TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS*
|POWERTRAINS||RX 350h||RX 450h+||RX 500h|
|Engine||2.5-litre, in-line 4-cylinder||2.5-litre, in-line 4-cylinder||Turbocharged 2.4-litre, in-line 4-cylinder|
|Battery type||Nickel-metal hydride||Lithium-ion||Nickel-metal hydride|
|Max. power (bhp/DIN hp/kW)||242/245/180||302/306/225||366/371/273|
|Transmission||Hybrid transaxle||Hybrid transaxle||6AT|
|PERFORMANCE, EMISSIONS & FUEL CONSUMPTION||RX 350h||RX 450h+||RX 500h|
|Acceleration 0-62mph (sec)||8.0||7.0||5.9|
|Fuel consumption (mpg, WLTP combined)||42.2-44.1||235.4-256.8||33.2-34.5|
|CO2 emissions (g/km, WLTP combined)||143-150||24-26||182-189|
|DIMENSIONS||NEW RX||DIFFERENCE vs CURRENT RX|
|Overall length (mm)||4,890||0|
|Overall width (mm)||1,920||+25|
|Overall height (mm)||1,710||-10|
|Front track (mm)||1,650||+15|
|Rear track (mm)||1,675||+40|
|Front overhang (mm)||1,080||0|
|Rear overhang (mm)||960||-60|