For target users, there’s nothing quite like it.
So, what’s it like? Well to begin with, we’re going to assume that you want an RX of the hybrid variety: 90% of buyers do. If that’s the case, then things are utterly laid-back from the start. Under the bonnet of the RX 450h, a 3. 5-litre petrol V6 is assisted by two electric motors, one on each axle, the rear one creating 4WD traction when necessary but otherwise acting as a generator to charge the battery when the car is in regenerative brake mode. Drive is through a belt-driven CVT auto gearbox and total system output has been increased to 308bhp in this MK4 model. Lexus also claims to have sharpened up the steering and suspension this time round, though the enhancements are insufficient to make the drive feel really dynamic.
You can sharpen things up though by playing with the various settings of the ‘Drive Mode Select’ system, which will have extra ‘Sport S’ and ‘Sport+’ options if you’ve got yourself a top variant with Adaptive Variable Suspension that continually tweaks the ride to suit the road. As for efficiency, well Lexus still chooses not to add in pricey Plug-in hybrid technology to this car, but the efficiency figures remain good enough to embarrass those of most rival diesel models, with an entry-level RX 450h delivering 54. 3mpg on the combined cycle and 120g/km of CO2. Aware that a minority of potential customers might want a more conventional powerplant, Lexus also offers an RX 200t variant that borrows the 235bhp 2. 0-litre petrol turbo engine used in the brand’s smaller NX SUV.
At a stroke, this fourth generation RX makes its predecessors look very ordinary indeed, it’s sharp, sculpted shape echoing the Japanese maker’s ‘L-finesse’ styling approach first used on the company’s other luxury SUV, the slightly smaller and strikingly handsome NX model. It’s an absolute riot of contrasting angles, swage lines and details all competing for your attention, a combination that has absolutely no right to work - but somehow it just does. All of that disguises the fact that this is a slightly larger car than its predecessor, though not large enough to offer the three seating rows you’ll find in some rivals.
Behind the wheel, the distinctively styled interior delivers a driver-centric feel that’s refreshingly different from the expensively-crafted SUV simplicity served up by rival German brands. This cabin’s exquisitely-trimmed too, but somehow in a more characterful way, with a lovely central analogue clock and leather that’s hand-stitched on each RX by a team of 17 ‘Lexus Takumi’ craftspeople to achieve its flawless finish.
Even the flat-screen infotainment display has been built into the dash without the ‘iPad-stuffed-into-the-fascia’ feel that similar installations give you in some rivals – which is impressive given that the 12. 3-inch TFT monitor used on models featuring the ‘Lexus Premium Navigation’ system is one of the very largest we’ve seen.
Time to move to the rear seat and discover whether the size increases made to this fourth generation RX have cured one of this model line’s long-standing shortcomings: a lack of rear cabin space. To some extent, the answer is yes, not only because the 60mm wheelbase increase has freed up more legroom but also due to the fact that Lexus has lowered the rear floor section.
The luggage area is 453-litres in size and has been designed around the needs of this hybrid variant.
If you need more space, you’ll be please to find that the centre part of the rear backrest splits separately so that you can more easily transport longer items like skis. Flatten the bench and though the cargo area created isn’t completely flat, it is 924-litre in size.
Forget what the magazines tell you: people in search of a large luxury SUV typically prioritise luxury, style and tax-friendly efficiency above almost everything else, these elements being things that this Lexus can now nail more effectively than ever before. According to the brand, it’s all about ‘sharpened sophistication’ and ‘seductive strength’; we’d prefer simply to call this a more sensible way to own what remains a very indulgent kind of car.