On first encounter you could be forgiven for thinking the new Lexus RX is a facelift of the previous model, unless you saw the two side by side. Even then, Lexus admits it has maintained some continuity from the old model. It’s only 15mm longer, is 40mm wider, just 10mm higher and has a 25mm longer wheelbase. But the proportions are still similar; the cab-forward look suggests crossover rather than true muscular SUV.
It’s certainly a clean shape, as testified by its drag coefficient of just 0.32. The front grille, which follows the latest interpretation of Lexus’s L-Finesse design language, is more elaborate and recognisable than that of the previous RX. The angle of the rear screen, rearmost side window and bottom edge of the rear lights all match — a neat piece of design.
One detail that’s more obvious in the metal than in pictures is the kink placed in the bottom of the rear doors. This helps to make the RX450h look less slab-sided, but cunningly also draws your eye to the hybrid badge.
The make-up of its powertrain is more crossover than proper SUV, too, because not a great deal of its power goes to the rear wheels. The RX450h has a complicated drivetrain. At the front is a 246bhp 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine, similar to the one in the previous RX but larger in capacity. It’s mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission and is assisted by an electric motor rated at 165bhp. These two between them drive the front wheels.
Meanwhile, at the rear there’s a second electric motor, rated at 67bhp, which supplies the rear wheels with additional power as needed. When all three engine/motors are giving their all, Toyota quotes a maximum power figure (it’s not as simple as adding all three together) of 295bhp.
For those who want a RX450h with more visual attitude, Lexus is offering an F Sport model. Aimed at the popular BMW M Sport and Audi S Line SUVs, the F Sport features a deeper, more vertical front bumper, with a mesh treatment on the upper and lower grilles. 19-inch wheels complete the visual makeover.
Underneath, the F Sport is equipped with a new lateral damper system. Rather than fixed bracing between the suspension towers, there is a single damper connecting them to reduce vibrations and improve stability.