Lexus RX — Attractive design, cutting-edge technology

By David Finkelstein

Its hard to comprehend the fact the Toyota's premium Lexus Division first launched its RX models stateside way back in 1998. Then as now, it quickly proved exceedingly popular with those needing the flexibility of a sport-utility vehicle combined with the driving comfort of a luxury sedan.

To “fast forward” — the all-new 2016 RX is engineered with an attractive exterior body design, emulating the same design DNA character with other recently launched models in the Lexus lineup. This outstanding “best selling” luxury crossover is featured with either a hybrid or gasoline type powertrain. It also includes elevated levels of sophisticated safety features, almost countless driver assist aids, and welcomed new convenience and technology breakthroughs.

This helps frame the new version as one of the best luxury utility vehicles ever offered. As far as the 2016 RX's front end styling, it includes the Lexus brand’s signature spindle grille. Its further highlighted with a chrome plated border. The L-shaped headlamp assembly has 18 individual bright LEDs that surround the housing and double as turn signal indicators.

An Intelligent High Beam option is available as part of the Lexus Safety System+. It automatically turns the high beams “on” and “off” as needed. The rear of the vehicle is quite distinctive. It helps to provide an aesthetic balance and consistency to the vehicle’s overall demeanor. The LED rear combination L-shaped taillights wrap forward around the rear fender sections. It helps give the vehicle a powerful and wide stance.

The panoramic moonroof design coupled with the convenient door handles that have night time illumination also help to set the stage for this head turning five-passenger product. Besides three new exterior paint colors for '16, all versions use a scratch-resistant/self-restoring type of advanced body paint. It further helps to protect the gloss finish for years to come, during the ownership experience.

As expected, a variety of wheels are offered including dealer-installed color inserts on the open wheel slots helping to customizing the wheel choice.

The interior strikes a welcomed balance of functionality and splendor. This includes a number of enhancements to the interior trim design. Beautiful and well crafted wood with an emphasis toward aluminum accents are available for setting the design theme that meets a customer's needs.

RX also features class leading rear cargo space. For instance, four large suitcases or multiple golf bags fit nicely in the rear cargo compartment. The factory now offers a hands free power rear lift hatch. Users simply need to place a hand near the Lexus emblem in order for it to work. That's as long as you have the key fob in a pocket or purse nearby.

The large center console and advanced optional electronic heads-up-display will help make your drive just that much more desirable. The redesigned instrument panel with its larger easy to read gauges also emphasize attention to detail.

The choices of powertrains include the highly refined and advanced 295-horsepower, 3.5-liter direct-injected V6 gasoline engine. Its mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The hybrid system produces the combined horsepower output of 308, when with both the gas and electric motors working in unison.

A highly refined all-wheel-drive system is also offered on the new RX models. Its quite seamless and transparent to the driver. In part, due to the many advances in engineering which makes the system very street-wise. Improvements in the suspension system dynamics, steering feel and in the area of noise reduction also help set the stage for the 2016 RX to once again be a major player in this competitive segment.

Lexus also offers an electronic adaptive variable suspension option helping to adjust the damping force, according to road conditions and irregularities on the pavement.

RX is assembled on a heavily reworked platform shared with the Toyota division. A number of cutting-edge technologies have been applied to help optimize structural integrity as well as overall body rigidity.

Some of the available safety extras include: Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Vehicle Sway Warning, Intuitive Parking Assist, Panoramic View Monitor and a Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert. This all helps to mitigate collisions across a wide range of vehicle speeds. The Pre-Collision System warns the driver of a possible impending impact. If the driver doesn't act accordingly, the Auto Brake system will apply the brakes.

The standard audio system includes an eight-inch display, HD Radio, Bluetooth audio, voice recognition microphone, micro SD card slot, an AUX mini jack, two USB ports and nine speakers. The available 12-speaker Pioneer audio system or Mark Levinson System offers crisp, clear sound throughout the cabin. The RX offers up an optional eight-inch or 12.3-inch navigation screen.

The base warranty is for 48-months or 50,000-miles. Roadside assistance is also included for 48 months/unlimited miles.The vehicle's maximum safe tow capacity is 3,500 lbs and the EPA fuel consumption numbers for the FWD gas model are 20 mpg city/28 highway. The pricing structure starts at $42,840, and goes up to $57,985 for the AWD Hybrid.

The 2016 Lexus RX is manufactured in Canada.