Newly refreshed for the upcoming model year, the 2016 Lexus RX 350 is ready to turn heads.
Already reigning supreme as Lexus’ best-seller throughout the brand’s 26-year history, the 2016 model was unveiled at the New York Auto Show and is expected to make its debut on showroom floors sometime later this year.
Now in its fourth generation, the new Lexus RX is roomier, more refined, and rife with cutting-edge technology.
Let’s see what all the fuss is about…
Edgier on the Outside…
Indeed, but the 2016 Lexus RX 350 is still respectful of its roots.
Or, as the RX Chief Engineer, Takayuki Katsuda, explained, “Our ambition has been to make a bold and completely new statement in this segment while building on and staying true to the pioneering values of previous RX generations.”
Judging by what we can see so far, it looks like they have managed to successfully strike that exact balance.
With its aggressive pose, the new RX is ready to shake up the highly competitive crossover segment.
Showcasing the brand’s signature spindle grille, complete with triple-L headlamps, LED daytime running lights, and LED fog lamps, the new RX shares the “floating roof” design seen on the new Nissan Murano.
What exactly does a “floating roof” look like?
Basically, the roof of the vehicle narrows near the rear, with the side glass extending beyond the C-pillar, resulting in a super sculpted and sleek look.
Still able to seat five passengers between the two rows of seats, Lexus RX loyalists won’t notice much of a change in between the previous model and the 2016’s stance or girth, owing to the fact that the width and height dimensions really haven’t changed.
However, the wheelbase is extended by 2.8 inches, now totaling 109.8 inches, and the entire vehicle has stretched by just about five inches, now measured at 192.5 inches.
Good news for passengers seated in the back, who will enjoy extra legroom, not to mention have an easier time getting into and out of the vehicle. That said, we’re still waiting for exact measurements on how much extra space we can look forward to claiming.
Inner-Peace Nurtured By the 2016 Lexus RX 350
The second row in the 2016 Lexus RX 350 remains a 60/40 split, but the action is improved because the seats are now power-folding.
An available back seat entertainment system equips the back of the two front headrests with screens measuring 11.6 inches.
No matter where you’re seated, whether in the front or back seats, the giant moonroof gives everyone an awesome vantage point of the sky and stars.
Front seat passengers will exclusively benefit, however, from a restyled cabin.
Designers wanted to inspire a fresh and uncluttered feel, and did so by relocating the shifter away from the control panel, reorganizing the gauges, and topping it all off with a new head-up display (HUD), complemented by an available 12.3-inch infotainment screen, which also features a full-size map for navigation needs.
Keeping Pace With the 2016 Lexus RX 350
Performance is where RX loyalists will notice the biggest difference between the new model and its predecessors.
Industry experts report that Lexus has supposedly retuned the suspension, equipping the RX with MacPherson struts up front and a dual-wishbone structure in the rear.
The new setup should yield improved handling, more tangible control, and decreased body roll in the case of sudden veers or aggressive cornering.
Fortunately, these enhancements haven’t compromised the ride quality.
Quite the opposite, in fact.
With its stronger and stiffer chassis, drivers and passengers will enjoy a quieter ride, with less noise transmitted from the road and engine.
Standard Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) or the available Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) work to monitor and address loss of control and protect against unsafe driving conditions via automatic adjustments for ultimate traction.
Further support is also available from the All-Weather Drive, optimizing control on both wet and dry surfaces.
For the first time, Lexus will offer Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) on the RX, which should return improved steering and overall handling behind the wheel.
The AVS essentially monitors and changes the shock absorber settings and steering, depending on the road conditions.
Drivers can choose between Eco, Normal, and Sport settings, by pushing the button mounted to the center console.
Check out the new tire technology, too!
Running on specialty EverGrip tires, you never have to worry about losing your grip on the road, regardless of the accumulated wear and tire on your tires.
Designed by Michelin, the surface of these tires have rain grooves that reportedly “widen over time and emerging grooves which open as the tire wears.”
Lexus carried over the main twin model availability from earlier generations with the 2016 RX lineup.
Equipped with a 3.5-liter direct-injection V6 engine, generating 300 horsepower, and operated by an eight-speed automatic transmission – standard across all trim levels, exact performance numbers and testing have yet to be released.
For improved fuel economy, take a look at the RX 450h, which comes equipped with a specific Atkinson-cycle V6, paired with an electric motor based off Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive.
From the hybrid RX, expect combined horsepower to reach approximately 295 (based on last year’s return), with fuel economy projected at 32 mpg city miles, depending on your choice of all-wheel or front-wheel drive.
Looking Good, Old Sport
The RX F Sport represents, as its name suggests, the more athletic side of the RX line.
Outfitted with an active stabilizer system, which supports the vehicle while cornering, the AVS comes standard in the F Sport models, and includes a Sport S+ mode for punchier performance.
Design giveaways on the F Sport are seen in the mesh grille, graphite-finish 20-inch wheels, paddle-shifters mounted on the sport steering wheel, which happens to be wrapped in perforated leather, as well as a multi-function TFT display on the F Sport gauge cluster.
Showing Off the Safety Features
As fun as the F Sport sounds, Lexus is all business when it comes to the safety features found in the 2016 RX model lineup.
The cutting-edge safety resulted from Katsuda’s claim that, “The pioneering spirit of Lexus drives us to create new technology and gives rise to new ideas. It allows us to introduce new vehicles with leading-edge features.”
Just what are the functions behind these new features?
Starting with its own exclusive Lexus Safety System, the new RX includes Pre-Collision Braking, a function that is able to decrease the vehicle’s speed in order to safeguard passengers against a potential accident.
Another handy system comes from the combined efforts of the Lane Departure Alert (LDA), which gives the driver an audible alert when it senses the vehicle straying out of its lane, supported by Lane Keep Assist (LKA), a feature that assists the RX with staying in its chosen lane.
Other safety suite inclusions are found in the Adaptive High-beam System (AHS), Panoramic View Monitor (PVM), Blind Spot Monitor (BSM), Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), and an ingenious operation called Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, able to bring the RX to a complete stop in certain cases.
Nothing To Do But Wait…
As of now, the release date for the 2016 Lexus RX is projected for late 2015.
Until then, we won’t know for sure if Katsuda’s ambition to deliver “progressive luxury” will be realized.
But he certainly seems confident, “I believe this new RX will not only surprise new customers, but will also delight and satisfy our loyal customers, whose high expectations will be met by many new innovations.”
We shall see, sir…we shall see.