Inside story

The RX is available in the UK in three equipment grades: RX, F Sport and Takumi. The seven-seat RX L Takumi that we took out last week can be specified with two individual captain’s-style chairs in the second row in place of the three-seat bench.

The cockpit is designed to help keep the driver alert and comfortable, supported by HMI technology that minimises distraction by making switches and controls easy to use.  A case in point is the 12.3-inch central display that now incorporates a touchscreen function, as an alternative to using the fiddly touchpad. So, entering a postcode into the sat-nav is simplicity itself. To accommodate this new feature, the screen has been moved further forward on the centre console, giving a wider viewing angle and within easy reach of the driver and front seat passenger. The multimedia functions can also be operated using a trackpad or with voice control. 

Beneath the touchscreen is the climate control panel that has been rationalised with several buttons being replaced by a series of toggle switches.

Comfort and convenience features include triple-zone climate control, heated steering wheel and front seats, rear cabin air vents, auto-dimming rearview mirror and a tray to wirelessly recharge a smartphone. The latter has been made larger so that new-generation handsets can be accommodated.

A 360-degree bird’s eye view of the car’s position helps the driver gain an all-around view of the SUV when making low-speed manoeuvres or when driving off-road at a slow pace. The monitor also works in conjunction with the SUV’s parking assist system and rear cross-traffic alert.

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A black finish for the instrument panel and doors can be combined with Black (RX grade), Rich Cream (Takumi) or new Ochre (all grades) trim. The RX Takumi offers a choice of interior design, with a new Bamboo inlay that can be specified with the Ivory trim; with the Black and Ivory options, the choices are Open Pore Walnut and Dark Brown Shimamoku. The RX F Sport has two new interior trims – Flare Red and Black and White – and comes with a brushed aluminium inlay. 

Take a seat

Given that the Lexus brand is known for fit and finish and material quality, the seat design has been a special focus of attention. The seat structure incorporates polyurethane foam wrapped around an iron frame. It’s the flat cushion and raised side sections that support the hips and keep the body stable, while subtle depressions in the cushion’s surface allow for smaller occupants to enjoy the same level of body holding as larger people.

Heated front seats are also standard for the driver and front passenger, along with new suction-type ventilation that draws directly from the air conditioning system for a quicker cooling effect.

The driver and front passenger seats are low-set, providing plenty of headroom. The position of the steering wheel is closer to the driver and a lowered angle for the steering column creates a more engaging driving position. The quilting pattern on the front seat seatbacks matches that on the door panel trims.

By using a new frame construction for the front seats, more legroom is provided for the rear passengers, adding an extra 20mm of knee clearance compared to the previous model. And to help front seat occupants find the ideal seat position, the seat height adjustment range was increased by 15mm.

Lexus has accommodated an extra, family-friendly third row of power-adjustable seats in the RX L model by adding 110mm to the rear overhang, taking the vehicle’s overall length to 5,000mm, and giving the tailgate window a steeper angle to provide a little more headroom for the rearmost passengers. The close attention to detail extends to the motor for the tailgate wiper being moved from the top to the bottom of the screen, to maximise the potential headroom.

The two rearmost seats can be moved forward and backwards electronically depending on the occupant’s needs, providing additional legroom (+94mm) for people sitting in the third row. The seats can be adjusted using button controls accessible from the second row or the boot.  Fine leather upholstery is also provided as standard, together with a triple-zone air conditioning system with independent controls for third-row occupants.  

Although the RX L retains the coupe-like profile of the five-seat RX, suitable headroom for the third row occupants has been secured by making the angle of the tailgate window slightly steeper. The 60/40 split second row bench seat has been set higher, so that there is good foot space for the third row passengers, too. The seats are ideal for children on any journey and comfortable for adult users on shorter trips.

When the seats are folded, the load space has a flat floor that extends to 1,067mm in length. A retracting tonneau cover keeps luggage out of sight; when not required, the cover unit can be stored in a dedicated space beneath the boot floor. 

There are also plenty of cubby holes to store paraphernalia including the wide glovebox that glides open effortlessly. The front door bins are also deep, and wide with expandable side panels. The two cupholders in the front also offer generous and different depths.

Let’s get connected

Two audio systems are available: a 10-speaker Pioneer Premium sound system and a 15-speaker Mark Levinson Surround Sound system, depending on the trim selected.  The sound system uses Clari-Fi technology, developed by Harman, which supplements real-time frequencies that are lost in compressed audio files, such as MP3 and streaming audio files. This restores the sound quality and stereo mix as closely as possible to the original recording.

To improve connectivity, the six USB ports dotted around the cabin now have a high amperage so that devices can be charged more quickly. Smartphones can be wirelessly integrated with the car’s multimedia system via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, and connected services can be accessed using Lexus Link – which also offers the option of in-car WiFi. LexusLink offers a range of functions, including find my car, share my car, last mile guidance, driving analytics and online service bookings.

The centre console features a new smartphone holder and additional USB ports, including a port suitable for video playback.  Other infotainment features include DAB Seamless Link, with seamless switching between broadcast channels to maintain signal quality; Miracast, which displays smartphone screen images on the central display and relays phone audio through the car’s speakers; Smartphone Linking to display compatible apps on the central display; and Smart Device Link, which allows phones to be connected and interacted with, via a Smartphone Linking function.

Driver assistance when you need it

Key to its safety performance is the latest version of Lexus Safety System+, an integrated safety package that provides a suite of active safety and driver assistance to help prevent accidents from happening or reduce their severity should an impact be unavoidable.

The Pre-Collision System (PCS) uses a front-mounted camera and millimetre-wave radar to detect vehicles and pedestrians on the road ahead. If it calculates a risk of a collision, it automatically warns the driver and provides extra braking force the moment the brake pedal is pressed. If the driver fails to react and the system judges a collision to be imminent, the brakes are automatically applied to reduce vehicle speed and the force of any impact, and the seatbelts are tensioned. 

The functionality of the PCS has been increased so that it is now capable of detecting pedestrians in the vehicle’s path in both day and night-time driving, and bicycle riders during daylight hours.

The same radar unit is used to provide all-speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC), which helps the driver maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front. Once the way ahead is clear, the RX automatically accelerates to its pre-set cruising speed.

Lane Tracing Assist (LTA) detects when the RX deviates from its correct traffic lane, without the turn indicators being used. The system will automatically provide a warning and steering inputs to help keep the vehicle centred in its lane, detecting markings on the road surface or the road margin. These features operate when the Dynamic Radar Cruise Control is being used and can be switched off if desired.

Other ADAS technologies include adaptive variable suspension control; panoramic view monitor; blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert with auto brake; parking support brake; and sway warning. The latter involves the use of cameras to monitor the car’s position in its lane and the driver’s steering inputs. If it detects degrees of vehicle swaying caused by driver distraction or drowsiness, it will sound an alert and display a warning on the multi-information display, recommending the driver takes a break.

On the road

Throughout the cabin, the quality and finish of the upholstery, expensive-feeling trim materials and detailing continue to reflect the attention to detail that Lexus’ engineers have given the RX L. On a more practical level, forward vision is pretty good, uncompromised by the high seating position, low-profile dashboard and narrow A-pillars. Materials with various properties have been used in different areas of the SUV’s construction, giving strength, rigidity and lightweight in appropriate measure. 

As we would expect, the ride is relatively quiet, thanks partly to the acoustic glass in the side windows, sound-damping coatings for the vehicle floor, positioning of the rear body frame to reduce lateral vibration and use of foam/sponge vibration damping material around the door apertures and front header. Sound-absorbing materials are featured in areas of the cabin, ceiling and floor to prevent the intrusion of noise from the engine compartment and from outside the vehicle, with full-edge double seals around the doors. Rival seven-seater models include the Audi Q7, Volvo XC90 and Land Rover Discovery.

Lexus recently revealed the fifth generation of the RX, describing it as a completely reinvented model that opens a new chapter for the original luxury SUV.