More than 20 years ago Toyota lit up the automotive world with the introduction of the
Prius petrol / electric hybrid car. The sedan’s asymmetric hybrid fuel saving system
became the mainstay of the automobile maker’s electric vehicles, even becoming the
power plant of choice for taxis around the world.
Needless to say, this did not go un-noticed with Toyota’s luxe auto partner Lexus
plugging in to the development for its range of saloons and SUVs. Latest model to take
the petrol / electric path is the fifth (fourth in Australia) generation RX SUV.
The hybrid makes up eight of the 14 variants on offer Down Under and comes in front-
or all-wheel drive. Prices start at $87,500, plus on-road costs, for the RX350h Luxury
FWD and top out at $126,000 for the RX500h F Sport Performance AWD.
The Luxury grade as standard has bi-LED headlamps, daytime running lamps, front
and rear fog lamps, heated and driver’s side auto-dimming exterior mirrors, rear privacy
glass, roof rails and 19-inch alloy wheels with a five-spoke design combining a bright
machined finish and dark grey metallic surface treatment. Despite being well equipped
for the price, there is a choice of two enhancement packs to add further to the
For example, the test vehicle, an RX 350h Luxury AWD, was fitted with Enhancement
Package 1, which consists of Panoramic roof with slide, leather-accented upholstery,
driver’s seat memory, easy access entry (seat and steering wheel), heated and
ventilated front seats, high-grade instrument cluster and head-up displays, touch
sensor-type steering wheel controls, smart key card and wireless smartphone charger.
This would set back the buyer an extra $5500.
The Lexus five-years unlimited kilometre warranty applies to all RX models. Capped
price servicing has been extended from three to five years and is set at $695 for each
scheduled service, with intervals set at 12 months or 15,000 km. All RXs come with a
three-year subscription to Lexus Encore owner benefits program.
The trademark Lexus spindle grille continues to evolve into a more laid-back look with
removal of the chrome frame, allowing the edges of the diamond grille to integrate with
the vehicle’s body. However, with a more vertical orientation and wide air intakes
flanking, the front end retains the robust theme of the original spindle
Headlight cues come from the seamlessly integrated look of NX and LX SUV siblings,
featuring Lexus’s signature L-shaped daytime running lights. and a three-projector high
/ low-beam lamp with adaptive high-beam technology, while fog and cornering lamps
are nicely integrated into the lower side air intakes.
At the rear, the new LED tail-light signature of the Lexus SUV line-up is defined by a
full-width LED light along the tailgate, flanked by L-shaped tail lights. L-E-X-U-S
lettering, no longer the ‘L’ badge, runs across the tailgate in keeping with the current
automobile fashion, while muscular wheel arches taper towards the roof to give the
new RX a sporty stance.
As well as the sophisticated cabin styling we have come to expect from Lexus, and the
latest in equipment, the new RX has taken on extra width, and wheelbase has been
increased, freeing up more space for occupants.
All Luxury grades include heated, eight-way adjustable front seats with two-way power
lumbar adjustment, synthetic leather trim, three-zone climate control with air
purification, auto-dimming rear view mirror, carpet floor mats, four cup holders, cargo
cover and power tailgate. As well, the driver enjoys easy access to and from a steering
wheel with electrically adjustable steering column, and paddle shifters,
Standard is the latest Lexus multimedia system courtesy of a 14-inch high-definition
touchscreen, with Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay, plus 12-speaker
Panasonic sound. Audio aficionados need to shell out for the higher Sports grades to
take advantage of 21-speaker Mark Levinson premium surround sound.
The info system offers in-built satellite navigation, DAB+ digital radio and Lexus
Connected Services, providing further convenience and peace of mind. Five USB-C
ports are scattered throughout the cabin, along with two 12V sockets and one USB-A
port to support multimedia connection and smartphone charging.
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION
The heart of the hybrid powertrain is the RX 350h featuring Lexus’ signature series-
parallel hybrid system teaming a 2.5-litre aspirated petrol engine to either one or two
motor generators, depending on front or all-wheel drive configuration.
Tuned to produce 140 kW at 6000 rpm and 239 Nm between 4300 and 4500 rpm, with
the hybrid unit, maximum combined power output is 184 kW. The petrol engine drives
the front wheels via an e-CVT, with a six-step sequential mode.
Lexus Safety Sense+ active safety features are included across the RX range,
including the pre-collision system with intersection collision avoidance support,
emergency steering assist and low-speed acceleration suppression, lane departure
alert, dynamic radar cruise control, lane tracing assist, parking support brake, blind spot
monitor, plus rear cross-traffic alert.
New is a driver monitoring camera which keeps track of the driver’s concentration,
warning of any lapse. All new-generation RX models feature safe exit assist,
incorporating new electrically activated door handles which detect cyclists or vehicles
passing close to the vehicle and keep the door shut.
A lightweight permanent magnet synchronous motor is housed within the transaxle,
capable of producing an instant 134kW / 270Nm, improving acceleration from rest.
A second motor generator is placed on the rear axle, providing eFour all-wheel drive in
low-traction conditions. This is tuned to produce 40 kW and 121 Nm.
The RX 350h employs a newly developed nickel-metal hydride battery, placed under
the rear seat, which with Improvements to motor technology, have almost doubled top
speed in EV mode from 68 km/h to 125 km/h.
With the downsizing of the petrol engine from a 3.5-litre V6 to a 2.5-litre four-cylinder
unit, fuel economy has also improved, with the RX 350h AWD claiming as little as 5.4
litres per 100 kilometres and CO2 emissions of 123 g/km. The test car, on
recommended 95RON petrol, averaged 7.4 litres per 100 kilometres in varying driving
conditions over a week.
Driving aids have been built into the body design with the front edge of the bonnet
raised to make it easier for drivers to note the vehicle extremities, while the height of
the bonnet bulge has been optimised to help the driver pick the right line on cornering.
With the addition of worthy enhancements, the RX 350h Luxury AWD delivers
everything we have come to expect from a smart, sophisticated Lexus sports utility
vehicle. Time to invest?
AT A GLANCE
Lexus RX350h Luxury FWD: $87,500
Lexus RX350h Luxury AWD: $92,000
Lexus RX350h Luxury FWD + Enhancement Pack: $92,600
Lexus RX350h Luxury AWD + Enhancement Pack: $97,500
Lexus RX350h Sports Luxury AWD: $111,900
Lexus RX350h Sports Luxury AWD + Enhancement Pack 1: $114,900
Lexus RX350h Sports Luxury AWD + Enhancement Pack 2: $115,800
Lexus RX500h F Sport Performance AWD: $126,000
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your
local Lexus dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Lexus RX 350h Luxury 2.5L 4-cylinder petrol, electric motors, CVT
Capacity: 2.487 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders inline, hybrid electric motor, Li-ion battery
Maximum Power ( petrol engine only): 140 kW @ 5200 rpm
Combined Power: 184 kW
Maximum Torque (petrol engine only): 239 Nm @ 4300-4500 rpm
Fuel Type: 95RON petrol
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 5.4 L/100km
Front motor: Synchronous, permanent magnet
Maximum power: 134 kW
Maximum torque: 270 Nm
Rear motor (AWD): Synchronous , permanent magnet
Maximum power: 40 kW
Maximum torque: 121 Nm
High voltage battery: Nickel-metal hydride
DRIVELINE: Continuously variable transmission, all-wheel drive
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4890 mm
Wheelbase: 2850 mm
Width: 1920 mm
Height: 1695 mm
Turning Circle: 6.3 metres
Kerb mass: 2060 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 65 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc
Five years / unlimited kilometres
Ten years unlimited kilometre battery warranty