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Lexus RX: Jalopnik's Buyer's Guide

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The new 2016 Lexus RX looks batshit insane, but you can bet it will still be a very competent luxury CUV like it’s always been, and that everyone and their grandmother will be buying one. Especially their grandmother. What do you need to know before you buy an RX? Don’t worry, we’ll tell you everything right here in our Buyer’s Guide.

Lexus’s RX has been Luxury CUV-ing it up since you were jammin’ along to Backstreet’s Back in your mom’s Plymouth Voyager minivan. Yes, the RX model is that old; it’s been around since 1998 and was one of the first true luxury CUVs on the market.


And over the years it has been absolutely crushing it. Yes, to satiate their irrational desires for some cushy Lexus CUV goodness, mostly-elderly folks have been emptying their mattresses and pouring their hard-earned cash at the steps of their local Lexus dealers. “Take my money,” they say. “I want a boring-to-drive CUV whose luxury will cuddle me like a Kangaroo’s pouch,” they will almost certainly not say.

But don’t take our word for it, have a look at the sales numbers. Despite the fact that people were waiting for the new 2016 model, the ‘15 RX was still at the very top of the luxury CUV/SUV sales chart for the first eight months of 2015. How is that possible, you ask?


The RX sells not because it’s a zippy car that can make your canyon roads cry uncle. No, it sells because it’s a predictable, safe choice for people who value ride comfort, luxury and interior volume over everything else. Equally as important at keeping Lexus at the top of the charts is Lexus’s reputation for reliability and excellent customer service.

Lexus’s new 2016 model comes with a pair of engines that will scoot it to 60 MPH in about 7.5 seconds, so it’s clear that Lexus isn’t trying to change their formula too much by making the RX a barn burner. But the part of their formula that they are changing is the “bland styling” bit.

We once wrote that the last generation RX “Push[ed] Bland To New Heights.” Well, it’s fair to say that the new one won’t be doing any pushing of blandness, as the ‘16 RX looks hungry. As Patrick George put it in his article “The 2016 Lexus RX Is Here To Take Your Kids To School Or Eat Them.”

What’s New About The 2016 Lexus RX


The new Lexus RX made its global debut at the 2015 New York International Auto Show, and will launch for the 2016 model year. The obvious change from the outgoing model is the aforementioned wild-child styling, with the huge “spindle grille” as the main attention-grabber.

But aside from the styling, the RX is also a bit longer than the outgoing model, there’s a bump in horsepower for both the hybrid and standard engines and the once-optional eight-speed automatic replaces the six-speed as the standard transmission.


But then there’s the interior, which is heavily updated from the last model and looks gorgeous.


And don’t think Lexus hasn’t injected tons of tech into this car. The standard screen for the audio system is eight-inches, but if you want an enormous 12.3-inch screen for your navigation, all you have to do is check the box. There’s also other cool tech stuff like Adaptive Variable Suspension (adaptive damping), drive mode select, touch-free power liftgate, adaptive cruise control, panoramic view monitor (360 degree view), Lane Keep Assist, Lane Departure Warning with steering assist, Blind Spot Monitor, Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection System and much more.

Bold exterior, gorgeous new interior, tons of tech. Sounds like a good plan, Lexus. Now if only you would offer a third row.


Which One We’d Buy

The Lexus RX comes in two models: RX 350 and the hybrid RX 450h, both of which can be had in front-wheel drive, all-wheel drive and F Sport trims (F Sport gets standard all-wheel drive).


All RXs come with electric power steering, a MacPherson front suspension design and a double-wishbone setup in the rear. Brakes on all models are 12.9-inch vented rotors up front and 13.3-inchers out back.

We haven’t driven the 2016 model yet, but just a few pokes at the configurator, and we’re leaning toward the RX 450h with all-wheel drive. Lexus and Toyota tend to be very good at integrating hybrid drivetrains to make them smooth and seamless, and with the 308-horsepower system that gets you 30 MPG combined, the RX hybrid doesn’t seem to bring major compromises to the table.


Of course, it does cost a little extra. At a starting price of $52,235, it’s not cheap, though it does come well equipped with stuff like navigation, heated and ventilated power leather-trimmed seats, 18-inch aluminum wheels, power moonroof, LED fog lamps, automatic headlights, heated mirrors, power liftgate, wood interior trim, driver’s seat memory, automatic dual-zone climate control, power tilt and telescoping steering column, rain-sensing wipers, 8-inch infotainment display with remote touch, 12-speaker audio system with subwoofer, Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic alert, and much more.

All in, we’d be paying $54,575 for this caviar of CUVs.

[Build Your Lexus RX]

Important Facts At A Glance:

MSRP: $41,900-$55,645 [RX 350-RX 450h F Sport]

Top Speed: 112-124 MPH [RX 450h-RX350]

Acceleration: 7.7-7.9s to 60 [FWD-AWD]

MPG: 19-31 city/ 26-30 hwy / 22-30 comb [RX 350 AWD-RX 450h FWD]

Engines: 3.5L V6, 3.5L V6 Atkinson Hybrid

Max Horsepower: 295-308 hp [RX 350-RX 450h total system power]

Torque: 268 lb-ft [RX 350 (RX 450h makes 247 lb-ft w/o hybrid drive)]

Maximum Rated Towing Capacity: 3,500 lbs [AWD]

Curb Weight: 4,222-4,740 pounds [RX 350 FWD-RX 450h AWD]

IIHS Rating: Top Safety Pick +

Transmissions: 8-speed automatic, CVT Auto

Drivetrain Layout: Front engine, FWD/AWD

Photo credit: Lexus

Post last updated: 03/09/2016