2016 Lexus RX Preview

FAST FACTS
  • Redesigned, but does not stray far from successful formula
  • 5-passenger crossover SUV
  • RX 350 with 3.5-liter V-6
  • RX 450h with hybrid drivetrain
  • Standard front-wheel drive, optional all-wheel drive
  • F Sport package adds styling, performance enhancements
  • New Lexus Safety System+ option package
  • New Panoramic View Monitor system
  • Improved infotainment systems for all passengers
  • On sale in fall of 2015

Introduction

To say that getting a redesigned Lexus RX exactly right is critically important to the automaker is a massive understatement. Last year, the RX was the best-selling luxury nameplate in America. The RX has also accounted for 30% of all Lexus sales since it debuted for the 1999 model year.

Glance at the redesigned 2016 Lexus RX and this luxury crossover is both instantly familiar yet clearly different, reflecting the need to fiddle with the recipe's ingredients at the same time recognizing that the existing formula has proven enormously popular. So while the new 2016 RX is sharpened up and technologically advanced, at the same time it is comfortably familiar.

Exterior Features

Bearing an undeniably strong family resemblance to the smaller Lexus NX crossover, the new RX delivers greater visual drama, especially when equipped with the optional F Sport package, which adds aggressiveness in the form of revised styling and larger aluminum wheels. The new bodywork is wrapped around a stronger vehicle structure, LED lighting elements help to define the design, and the rear roof pillar now sports a blacked-out treatment to give the impression that the SUV's roof is floating.

When the new 2016 RX goes on sale, it will be offered as the RX 350 and the RX 450h, the latter equipped with a gasoline-electric hybrid drivetrain.

Interior Features

Larger inside than the previous RX, the 2016 model adds rear-seat legroom to improve passenger comfort. Initially, the new RX will be offered only as a 5-passenger model. Some reports indicate that a 7-passenger version is planned.

Optional Features

Lexus will continue to offer an F Sport package for the RX, available for the first time on the RX 450h hybrid version. Available only with what Lexus calls All-Weather Drive (AWD), the F Sport package includes revised grille and bumper designs, 20-in. wheels with a Graphite finish, unique instrumentation, and a sport steering wheel with paddle shifters. An Adaptive Variable Suspension is included, too, and features an exclusive Sport S+ driving mode with this package. Active suspension stabilizers help to reduce body roll when taking corners with enthusiasm, Lexus promises.

Additional options planned for the 2016 RX include full LED headlights, Yamaha laser-cut interior ornamentation, a color head-up display, panoramic glass sunroof, power-folding rear seatbacks, heated rear seats, and 20-in. aluminum wheels with available inserts to match the color of the interior.

More details regarding standard and optional equipment will be available closer to the RX's arrival in showrooms.

Under the Hood

A direct-injection, 3.5-liter V-6 engine is standard for the 2016 RX 350, making 300 horsepower and paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive (FWD) is standard, with AWD optional. New Michelin EverGrip tires are intended to improve traction under a variety of weather conditions.

The 2016 RX 450h employs an Atkinson-cycle 3.5-liter V-6 engine, electric assist motors, and regenerative brakes that recharge the vehicle's battery pack. Lexus expects the RX 450h to make approximately 300 horsepower. Like the RX 350, the RX 450h is equipped with FWD or AWD.

Drive Mode Select technology offers Eco, Normal, and Sport settings, which govern powertrain response, steering effort levels, and suspension tuning when the RX is equipped with the Adaptive Variable Suspension. In F Sport versions, Drive Mode Select adds a Sport S+ setting.

Safety

With the 2016 RX, Lexus debuts its new Lexus Safety System+ option package. It includes dynamic cruise control with full-stop capability, pre-collision warning system with automatic braking, lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist system, and automatic high-beam headlights. Additional safety-related upgrades include a Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) system, blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive headlights.

Technology

Lexus retains a traditional version of its Remote Touch Interface (RTI) for the new RX, a controller mounted to the center console that works similar to a computer mouse and allows the driver to navigate menus and selections displayed on the infotainment screen that is embedded into the top of the dashboard.

For 2016, a new 12.3-in. infotainment display is available, offering a full-screen navigation map and a new Panoramic View Monitor. Also, the RX can be optioned with a new rear-seat entertainment system that includes dual 11.6-in. screens and device connectivity.