The original Lexus SUV is back for a new generation. This is the 2022 Lexus RX, the fifth generation of its breakout SUV, featuring the new corporate snout, new tech inside, a new platform and new powerplants. Let’s get into it.
The RX is an important car for Lexus and indeed for the market as a whole. The most popular vehicle in its range, selling over 220,000 examples in 2021, it was also the first hybridised SUV back in the mid-2000s. Now in a marketplace full of them, the RX needs to stand out on an even playing field.
The new car is longer, lower, wider and lighter than the car it replaces, with the new platform removing 90kg, adding 6mm of wheelbase and removing 10mm of height. The new RX definitely emphasises the ‘S’ in a sports utility vehicle, with Lexus claiming it has a ‘coupe-like feel’. The ‘Spindle body’ design, as debuted on the RZ, is a result of Lexus integrating its design language towards full electrification. The once prominent predator-style grille for instance retains its shape but incorporates more body-coloured elements. It gets even sportier with the distinctive F-Sport kit, with its more aggressive bumpers and bigger wheels.
On the inside, the RX goes big on tech and simplifies the driver-focused design. Dominating up front is the 14-inch infotainment screen which will ship on all RXs, comes with a revitalised user interface to bring it in line with rivals. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard fit, joining a generous range of equipment you won’t need to pay out extra for, including heated and ventilated seats. Third-generation Lexus Safety System+, featuring a number of risk detection and prevention facilities, is standard too, while the Extended Safety Package with Lane Change Assistance among other advanced systems, is optional. Safe Exit Assist, which won’t let the door open in the path of cyclists or motorists, is expected by Lexus to prevent more than 95 per cent of associated incidents.
Three versions of the new RX are available, all featuring hybrid power. For the first time, a V6 will not feature in the range. The RX350h is the ‘entry-level’ model and is a 2.5-litre four-cylinder self-charging hybrid. That same petrol engine powers the RX450h+, which Lexus expects to be the most popular model. This is because it also has a plug-in hybrid system which adds a rear-mounted electric motor, an 18.1kWh lithium-ion battery and consequently, a 40-mile electric-only driving range. In addition to being the ‘most’ hybridised RX you can buy, it’s also in the middle in terms of performance.
Topping the range is the RX500h, which for the first time in an RX uses a turbocharged engine – 2.4 litres and four cylinders. Total system output is an impressive 371PS (273kW), with a new hybrid architecture including a new six-speed automatic transmission. It’s the more performance-oriented model, hitting 62mph in 5.9 seconds, compared to seven seconds and eight seconds respectively for the RX450h+ and RX350h. It also gets the special Direct4 drive system, first seen on the RZ, which intelligently shifts power front to back for an improved driving feel.
While the outgoing RX starts from £56,000, it’s expected the new car will jump to a £60,000+ entry price when it goes on sale. Has Lexus’ most popular model grown enough to retain its appeal in an ever-expanding marketplace? Would it be your SUV of choice? Let us know…