A Prescription for Lexus Crossovers


Those of you with checkered shirts in yer closet and a few pogs still kicking around may recall it was the original Lexus RX from the late ‘90s which arguably kicked off the “tall wagon” car-based luxury crossover craze. Sure, the first Ford Explorer put us all on a path to what we see in suburban driveways today, but it was the RX which placed them in the hands of moneyed types.

Lexus introduced a new RX yesterday near its home base in Texas, expanding the number of powertrains and (finally) dumping the ill-advised three-row model. And, oh yeah – we need to have a conversation about that grille.

Your author is not sure if Lexus took all the criticism about its so-called spindle grille to heart or if someone at the company simply tripped near the new model while holding a pot of white paint. The general shape of the old spindle grille remains, but the upper 25 per cent is now generally covered up and slathered with color-keyed paint. It’s like the time your spouse asked you to paint the living room walls and you accidentally painted right over a couple of electrical outlets, leaving a pair of vertical lines sticking out through the paint as if a porcine creature was trying to push its way through from the next room.

The lower portion of the grille – south of the pinched part of the spindle – remains black and features a textured design not unlike what’s on the schnoz of every Lexus in series production today. We’ll reserve judgement until we see it in person but this writer will say he is not adverse to color-matching trim on his vehicles (witness every pickup truck he’s ever owned for proof). And anyway, it’s not like Lexus cares what TTAC minions think; all that matters is the opinions of customer who vote with their wallets. In other words, we don’t think this new take on the spindle grille will hurt sales.

Built on a new GA-K platform, the RX has a 2.36-inch longer wheelbase and a rear overhang trimmed by exactly the same amount. Overall length does not change. The rear section of the platform features an all-new multi-link suspension design, attached to a rigid high-torsion rear body frame, plus a few other tricks which apparently increase rear-seat legroom. Note we didn’t say ‘second-row’ because Lexus has wisely ditched the RX’s optional third row in favor of an all-new three-row rig called the TX which will likely appear sooner rather than later.

There will be a choice of powertrains: A gasoline-powered 275 horsepower, 2.4-liter turbocharged four banger; a hybrid with a 246-horse, 2.5L inline-four making 33 mpg; plus a plug-in hybrid of undescribed size. They will be known as the 350, 350h, and 450h+ respectively. If one is looking for clues about the plug-in variant, we strongly suggest investigating what’s under the hood of the 302 hp NX 450h+ for clues. Topping the range will be a 500h F Sport, an all-wheel drive turbocharged hybrid which adds an ‘eAxle’ rear unit integrating an electric motor, inverter, and reduction gearbox with the other hybrid gubbins up front. It’s good for 367 horses and 406 lb-ft of torque.

Inside one will find the typical Lexus trappings, taking many cues from the comfortable and well-appointed NX. The largest infotainment screen will be 14 inches across and its user interface will surely be better than the Coleco-grade experience in today’s RX. We’ve sampled the new infotainment platform in a couple of Toyota/Lexus vehicles to date and can declare it light-years ahead of the old system. It can’t make its way across the lineup soon enough.

The 2023 RX is expected to go on sale at the end of 2022.

[Images: Lexus]

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