Lexus’ prescription for its best-selling RX350 crossoverBy Jason K. Ang
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The RX luxury crossover has been a runaway success for Lexus, notching up many converts to the brand. It remains the brand’s best-selling model in Manila as well as worldwide. Now comes the facelifted 2012 model, featuring the company’s new “spindle grille” as well as several other exterior and interior upgrades. Also making its debut is the Premium trim level, paving the way for Lexus to offer both a lower entry price for the base RX, as well as a more upscale, full-featured variant.
Heading up the changes is Lexus’ new signature look, anchored on the hourglass-shaped spindle grille, which looks particularly arresting on the RX. The spindle grille merges the upper and lower grilles on the Lexus and gives it a more memorable face. In conjunction with the predator-like maw, the brand retains its more Zen-like L-Finesse design language, featuring straight lines and angular flourishes at the sides. The taillamps now feature stronger horizontal elements to accentuate the RX’s width.
Inside, the RX also gets new color choices. A tan interior is now an option, along with the previous offerings of white, black, and light gray. Matte silver trim and thicker-thread stitching, wider-opening center console, and improved access to USB ports are among the changes. Bluetooth connectivity is now standard as well. What the driver will probably appreciate most is the new variable-cross section steering wheel, which is reportedly more comfortable to grip.
Following Lexus’ formula, the RX is priced very competitively, has a relatively large body and a complete roster of convenience and technological features. The RX350 is powered by 3.5-liter V6 good for 274 hp and 346 Nm. The engine is paired with a six-speed automatic with manual-shift mode. Power is fed to all four wheels via a sophisticated all-wheel drive system. The system uses an electronically-controlled center coupling to vary torque split from 100:0 to 50:50 front to rear. Acceleration usually engages the rear wheels, while the car reverts to front wheel drive when cruising, to enhance fuel mileage.
Handling remains the same for the new model, with only minor tweaks to improve responsiveness. The RX features rear double-wishbone suspension to provide more grip as well as to reduce intrusion into the trunk space. The coil springs up front are inversely wound and designed to compress in opposite directions, so as to not have the suspension compression affect the steering. Electric power steering improves fuel efficiency by up to three percent versus a hydraulic system. A hybrid version will be made available at a later time.
For the first time, the RX will be available in two model grades. A well-equipped “base” version with fabric seats will debut at a lower price: P3.578 million, while the new Premium grade goes up to P3.898 million. Even the standard version comes with adaptive HID headlamps, LED daytime running lamps, 18-inch alloy wheels, power front seats, leather steering wheel, power tilt-telescoping steering wheel, auto dimming rear view mirror, multi-information OLED display, dual-zone aircon, transponder key, and cruise control. The Premium version upgrades to 19-inch wheels, and adds memory function to seats, side mirror, and steering wheel; backup camera, moonroof, roof rails, and power rear door. All versions come with ABS, brake assist, EBD, traction and stability control, backup sensors, and multiple airbags.
Short URL: http://business.inquirer.net/?p=58219