Lexus’s new RX pushes styling and safety boundaries

Seven-seat RX will be critical to the Japanese premium brand’s comeback and will be available in Ireland later this year

Lexus has launched its most important new model for some time with the unveiling of the new RX SUV at the New York motor show. The RX accounts for around a third of all Lexus sales globally and, all by itself, outsells all of BMW's X-models combined. Get this wrong, and the whole edifice of the 'Japanese Mercedes' would be undermined.

So, Lexus has played a mixed hand of safe and daring. Daring in that the styling is much, much more aggressive than before, with a great many cues taken from the more extreme-looking NX compact crossover. The 'spindle' grille at the front is far larger and more in-you-face and the floating roofline makes the back end of the car look much less bulky.

On the mechanical front, all we know yet of the crucial RX450h hybrid model is that it will come packing 300hp but Lexus hasn't yet said what its Co2 figures will be. The current model just ducks into Band B2, with emissions of 140g/km for the front-wheel-drive model so it's likely that the new car will sneak into Band A4, at just under 120g/km.

Lexus is also seriously pushing the car's safety credentials, possibly as a way of insulating it from the challenger of the recently-launched new Volvo XC90. Among the changes (deep breath…) is Lexus Safety System+, which can help avoid or mitigate collisions across a wide range of vehicle speeds under certain conditions. Introduced globally, Lexus Safety System+ integrates several of the brand's existing active safety technologies.


These include the Pre-Collision System (PCS) that is designed to detect sudden stops initiated by the preceding vehicle and can engage automatic braking in certain circumstances; Lane Departure Alert (LDA), which issues an audible signal if it determines that the vehicle has strayed from its intended lane; and Automatic High Beam (AHB) that helps ensure optimal forward visibility during nighttime driving.

As part of a multi-faceted approach to active safety, the Lexus Safety System+ package utilizes a millimeter-wave radar that works together with a camera to help keep the RX in its intended driving lane via the Lane Keep Assist feature (LKA) and enhances target detection for the Dynamic Radar Cruise Control with full stop capability under certain circumstances. Other available features that can help the driver include Adaptive High-beam System (AHS), a Panoramic View Monitor (PVM) and Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA).

One key change for the new RX awaits its unveiling – this time around, and in spite of that swoopy rear roofline, the RX will have a seven-seat option this time around, something that will bring much cheer to the well-heeled families of south Dublin…

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe, a contributor to The Irish Times, specialises in motoring