A look back at three generations of the RXBy Alvin Uy
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First generation 1998–2003
The first-generation RX debuted at the Chicago Auto Show on February 1997 as a sport luxury vehicle concept. This prototype crossover SUV appeared very close to the final production vehicle. Dubbed as the XU10 model, production ran from 1998 to 2003 with the year model 2000 receiving a facelift and some upgrades. In the Japanese domestic market (JDM), the RX was labeled as the Toyota Harrier that came in front wheel and all-wheel drive platforms while the Lexus RX 300, which was mainly sold in the US market debuted at the Detroit Auto Show (North American International Auto Show) in January 1998. This first generation RX used a similar platform as the Lexus ES and it had a front wheel drive system. The design intentions were to have a vehicle that combines the driving dynamics and ride of a luxury sedan, features of a wagon and character of an SUV. With a ground clearance of about 8 inches, it still managed to have a drag coefficient of 0.36 Cd. The RX had all the plush trimmings including wood trims, leather interior, sophisticated center console, individual reclining and sliding rear seat system. Its five-year lifespan was a success, selling over 370,000 units as a debut model.
Second generation 2003–2009
The second generation debuted in the Detroit Auto Show on January 2003. Now considered as one Lexus’ best-selling models, it came with a sleeker body styling and a 0.35 Cd drag coefficient. In the US markets, it was badged as the RX330 and it still had the front wheel drive platform and powertrain similar to its predecessor model, although this was still badged as the RX 300 in Asian and European markets. The following year saw this generation introducing the world’s first luxury hybrid the RX 400h at the 2004 Detroit Auto Show that went on sale the following year in the US market, featuring the Lexus Hybrid Drive system. By 2006, the model received a facelift as well as engine upgrade. For model year 2006 to 2009 it was also re-badged to RX350 and sported a new grille, door hardware and new 7-spoke 18-inch wheels. By 2006, the RX was considered the best-selling luxury vehicle in the US market, with over 108,000 for that year alone.
Third Generation 2009–2012
The third-generation RX concept was unveiled at the 2007 Tokyo Auto Show as the LF-Xh concept. On November 2008, it debuted as the RX 350 at the Los Angeles Auto Show, side by side with the hybrid RX 450h. At this time, the Lexus brand was also being introduced to the Japanese market so the Toyota Harrier was discontinued and sales of the RX began in the Japanese domestic market. The year 2009 was also when Lexus Manila was established and the RX became available to the local market, along with the other Lexus models.
The RX 350 was fitted with a newer 3.5-liter V-6 275 horsepower engine and six-speed automatic transmission with sequential shift. The new exterior bodywork still had the L-finesse design but came with a lower drag coefficient of 0.33 Cd and bigger cargo room. This was the current offering until Lexus introduced the all-new RX this week.
The all-new fourth generation RX
The new RX 350 and soon-to-be introduced RX 450h now sports the now-familiar front spindle grille look that’s being introduced in its GS, LX and CT models. Lexus Manila unveiled the facelifted RX in its showroom on Tuesday, May 8. For more information, visit www.lexus.com.ph
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