Lexus’ big-boy crossover, the RX, made its official debut at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show as a face-lifted 2013 model. This confirmed the long-standing rumor that the Japanese automaker would bring two new models to the show that would be launched in 2012.
Joining the RX in Lexus’ Geneva Motor Show booth was the all-new RX F Sport based on the RX 450h hybrid. Leading up to its Geneva debut, leaked images picked up from a Lexus brochure by Minkara clearly show the crossover in almost every conceivable angle. Looking at the photos, it appears that the face lifted RX carries more styling changes than we initially thought, bringing in the company’s new aggressive design, including a new front lip spoiler, the inclusion of a sports steering wheel, aluminum pedals, and special badging.
UPDATE 03/08/2012: This review has been updated with official specs and photos from Lexus.
Find out more about the Lexus RX after the jump.
The 2013 Lexus RX was designed create a sleek profile that is accentuated by broad shoulders, making for an athletic yet elegant look that certainly adds to its distinction as one of the best luxury crossovers in the market. The highlight of the crossover’s new and distinctive profile is the company’s new signature spindle grille. In order to establish a more aggressive look to the car, Lexus designed the upper edge of the grille to be lower than the upper edge of the headlamp assembly with the LED daytime running lights reflecting the “L” design motif of the vehicle.
In addition, the new RX also has pronounced front fenders that flow into the doors and integrated rear fender flares that sweep around the length of the rear. Passenger doors were also extended below the entry sill, helping keep out dirt and moisture whereas the side mirrors come with integrated LED turn signal lamps.
The last order of business is the RX’s new rear spoiler, which was added to help lower the crossover’s Coefficient of drag (Cd) while also containing the AM/FM radio and antenna and high-mount stop lamp and concealing the rear wiper.
The crossover sits on a new set of 18" aluminum-alloy wheels and wrapped in 235/60R18 tires with two optional 19" aluminum-alloy wheels wrapped in 235/55R19 tires are also available.
As for color options, Lexus is offering a whole palette’s worth of choices, ranging from Silver Lining Metallic, Claret Mica, Deep Sea Mica Fire Agate Pearl and, replacing Tungsten Pearl, Matador Red Mica and Cerulean Blue Metallic.
The interior of the new RX was based on Lexus’ L-finesse philosophy, highlighted by a dramatically designed interior that creates two distinct zones – a “display zone” to provide information and an “operation zone” for interaction with controls.
To ensure that lighting of the multi-information display is as crisp and clear as possible, Lexus installed a high contrast white Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED), which comes with vibrant white characters that are sharply displayed on a high-contrast black background for ease of use and a luxurious appearance. High-intensity LEDs have also been added to project high-contrast white figures onto the windshield, which are easier to read – and easier on the eyes. The HUD offers displays for a variety of functions, including speed, navigation, and audio. The RX also has a wedge-shaped windshield interlayer for the HUD projection area and the addition of an Eco Driving indicator light, which provides lighting to vital information displays including current fuel economy.
As far as the operation zone is concerned, Lexus wants the driver to be at-ease when he’s behind the wheel and it does so by reducing all the distractions that might come with it. Instead of being far away from the driver, Lexus engineers strategically placed several features closer to the driver, including the multi-information switch, the Remote Touch console-mounted navigation controller and the optional Heads-Up Display. Meanwhile, the navigation and Lexus Display Audio screen, as well as the standard LCD audio/HVAC display, have been placed at a more natural visual angle. Even the steering wheel of the RX comes with a multi-information switch, giving the driver easier access to numerous function settings without taking their hands off the steering wheel.
Seeing as the RX is the embodiment of Lexus’ interpretation of a luxury crossover, the interior also exudes plenty of fancy digs, including standard 10-way power front seats are shaped to accommodate arm movement when operating the available Remote Touch, while also holding the occupants in place. Both the driver and passenger seats also feature power lumbar adjustment. All the RX models also come equipped with a power tilt and telescopic steering column, a feature that lets the seat automatically slide up to two inches rearward and the steering wheel tilts upward and slides forward when the engine is switched off.
The Lexus RX comes with a couple of trim options: the RX 350 and the RX 450h. The former is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces an output of 270 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and mated to a six-speed Electronically Controlled Transmission with intelligence (ECT-i). Dual Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) is used to control both intake and exhaust camshafts independently; optimizing engine performance at many speeds and loads. The AWD version of the RX 350 is powered by a similar powertrain, although possess an electronically controlled Active Torque Control AWD system, a system that uses an electronically controlled coupling ahead of the rear differential to vary torque distribution anywhere from 100:0 to 50:50 front to rear, depending on driving dynamics and road conditions.
The second version of the RX is the 450h Hybrid, which is powered by a combination of a 3.5-liter V6 Atkinson-cycle engine, electric motors, a small and light power-control unit and other fuel-saving innovations. Despite the hybrid powertrain, the RX 450h produces an impressive total output of 295 horsepower with a combined fuel economy that’s right on par with most mid-sized sedans. The Front Wheel Drive (FWD) version of the 450h hits an EPA-estimated 32 mpg city and 28 mpg highway (30 mpg combined) fuel economy ratings, whereas the All-Wheel Drive (AWD) model earned EPA ratings of 30 mpg city, 28 mpg highway, 29 mpg combined.
As a full hybrid model, the RX 450h can be operated in electric-only or gas-engine-only modes, and in some cases, a combination of both. To go with the V6 engine, the RX450h also has a compact 288V DC Nickel Metal Hydride battery pack that fits neatly under the rear seat. A boost converter efficiently raises voltage to 650V DC, and an inverter converts this to 650V AC for the front-mounted 123-kW electric motor-generator. The boost converter and inverter are enclosed in the power-control unit, which also houses the condenser.
To ensure that the crossover runs as smoothly as possible, Lexus fitted the RX 450h FWD with two motor-generators: an engine-drive generator called MG1 and a front-drive motor called MG2. The former plays the role of a starter and can charge the battery pack or power other electric motors as needed while the latter distributes the power to the drive wheels via a planetary gear-type continuously variable transmission. MG1 controls the output speed of the transaxle through the planetary gear set, without clutches or a viscous coupling. MG2 delivers torque over a wide range for better response and smooth performance.
No word yet on pricing, but we expect the 2013 Lexus RX to fetch a price similar to its 2012 counterpart, which sold for a base price of just around $40,000.
If there was one luxury crossover that the Lexus RX will see and hear a lot from, it’s the Cadillac SRX. The variety of powertrain options that you can have for both vehicles is a credit to the two, although if you’re looking for a hybrid, the RX 450h is as good a choice as any. For the RX 350, the SRX competition is a little dicier because the latter offers more options than the Lexus, thanks to a choice between a 3.0-liter unit that produces 260 horsepower and a 3.6-liter direct-injected V6 engine that produces an output of 300 horsepower and 260 lb/ft of torque.
Love the spindle grille
Interior is all plush
Hybrid engine is a plus
Plenty of competition
Could’ve been more powerful
No price yet