Making its debut in Geneva, the 2013 Lexus RX Series gets a mid-cycle revamp that includes prominent nose and tail tweaks as well as a number of interior enhancements. The RX 450h also gains a new Sport mode and broadens the hybrid side of the family with an F Sport performance variant that will be offered in several markets throughout the world, although not here in the U.S.
The most obvious cosmetic change to both the RX 350 and RX 450/450h involves a recasting of the front fascia to incorporate the division's new signature "spindle" grille. Redesigned headlamps - now available in halogen, HID xenon or full LED form - are set off by LED daytime running lights configured in an "L-finesse" arrowhead motif. While less dramatic, the rear end restyle on this extremely popular luxury crossover brings new taillamps with clear red lenses and a more elegantly horizontal sweep to their basic design. Several new paint colors and restyled alloy wheels round complete the exterior mods.
Inside, the new RX Series features upgraded trims and revised color schemes as well as a new steering wheel that incorporates a variable-cross section rim that reportedly allows for a more comfortable grip and can be had with a heated rim. All models get a new Remote Touch Interface with a mouse-like multi-controller unit that provides haptic feedback as well as a more user-friendly center console that brings a redesigned covered center storage bin with USB/accessory adapters.
While the basic powertrain elements in the RX 350 (275-horsepower/3.5-liter V6) and RX 450h (295-horsepower/3.5-liter V6 with Hybrid Synergy Drive) carry over unchanged, the electronically controlled continuously variable automatic transmission (E-CVT) in the RX 450h adds a new "Sport" mode to its existing Normal/ECO/EV menu choices. Engaging Sport mode bumps output of the electric motor, quickens responses of the throttle and Electric Power Steering and turns on less-intrusive mapping Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Traction Control (TRC) systems.
European eco-enthusiasts also will be able to have their Lexus RX 450h in a new F Sport configuration. This more spirited iteration brings more performance-oriented underpinnings that include new dedicated dampers that link the left and right shock towers on both the front and rear suspension to effectively quell undesirable body vibrations while improving ride comfort, steering feel and vehicle responsiveness.
In keeping with Lexus tradition, the new RX 450h F Sport also gets unique cosmetic touches including a more aggressively recast front fascia with deeper, full-width front spoiler lip, custom grille inserts, 19-inch cast alloy wheels and F Sport badges on the front fenders. Inside, its leather-covered seats feature an exclusive Black and White Grey color scheme.
While all of the 2013 RX Series vehicles on the stand were European spec models, a Lexus spokesperson advised KBB.com that, save for the F Sport, the 2013 Lexus RX 350 and RX 450h we saw in Geneva will be identical or very close to their American cousins that are set to go on sale here in late spring.