2016 Lexus RX sets sights on tomorrow
Debuting in New York, the 2016 Lexus RX crossover, far and away the best-selling model in the entire Lexus lineup, has been remade with bolder styling, more standard power, new comfort/convenience touches and enhanced safety systems. These changes are intended to make the RX even more competitive in the luxury SUV segment where it battles the Acura RDX, Audi Q5, BMX X3 and Cadillac SRX as well as the Infiniti QX50 and the updated/renamed Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class.
Better inside out
Available in RX 350 and RX 450h Hybrid form as well as an enthusiast-oriented RX F Sport AWD, the 2016 Lexus RX is slightly larger, longer and wider than the vehicle it replaces and features a stronger, stiffer body that improves handling and stability while ensuring a quieter cabin. And with an additional 1.9 inches of wheelbase, the rear passengers in this accommodating 5-seater enjoy more leg and knee room. The RX's existing front-strut/rear-wishbone suspension has been retuned to take advantage of its more robust chassis and the for the first time, Lexus will offer the vehicle with optional Adaptive Variable Suspension as well as Michelin Premier Ever Grip tires with rain grooves that widen over time to maintain a more consistent feel in the wet.
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All-new sheetmetal with crisper lines and a blackout C-pillar imparts a more aggressive character to this upscale crossover, which further elevates its curb appeal with edgier fascias. Up front, the RX's more defined spindle grille is flanked by reshaped LED running/fog lamps and - making their initial appearance on the option roster - full LED headlights in a unique triple-L configuration. The RX's rear gets similar styling touches courtesy of wraparound LED taillamps and a new lower valance panel with integrated exhaust outlets on the RX 350. Although 18-inch alloys remain standard, the step-up option has gone from 19 to 20 inches.
Upgrades are evident inside of the 2016 Lexus RX, which complements higher-quality trim elements and a more user-friendly shift lever with several new premium touches. Topping the list are a retractable power panorama moonroof, heated outboard rear seats plus a power-fold function for the 60/40 split backs and Yamaha laser-cut accent elements. The optional rear seat entertainment system now boasts a pair of 11.6-inch screens mounted to the back of the front headrests. On the safety side, the 2016 RX introduces the automaker's Lexus Safety System+. Developed by parent company Toyota, the package integrates various existing active safety technologies including the Pre-Collision System, Lane Departure Alert and Automatic High Beams with a camera and radar setup that works with Lane Keeping Assist and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control to help avoid or mitigate potential impacts.
Enhanced performance, improved economy
Although not ready to issue final output for the powertrains in either RX variant, Lexus did say the 3.5-liter V6 in the RX 350 will deliver about 300 horses - 30 more than the 2015-spec engine - and that a new 8-speed automatic transmission will replace the current 6-speed. Expect similar strength from the Atkinson Cycle 3.5-liter six and three electric motors in the RX 450h which presently serves up 295 combined horsepower.
For those seeking the ultimate crossover, Lexus has crafted a more capable version of the F Sport. Beyond all-wheel drive, F Sport functional upgrades include a unique version of the Adaptive Variable Suspension with an Sport S+ setting in addition to the regular Eco/Normal/Sport modes, an active stabilizer system and a 20-inch wheel/tire package. While exterior changes are confined to unique badging and grille and rear bumper inserts, the F Sport's cabin features a bespoke instrument cluster and a sport steering wheel with shifter paddles. The full 2016 Lexus RX family arrives in dealers this fall. Pricing will be released closer to the on-sale date.
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