The 2016 Lexus RX is the latest edition of what has long been the Japanese luxury brand's best-selling model. This mid-size SUV has reliably transported thousands of customers and their families since it was first introduced in the late 90s, and with its most recent update the Lexus RX heads off in a more style-focused direction. Don't be alarmed - the sport-utility's aggressive looks conceal the same combination of comfort, practicality, and upscale features that Lexus has long been known for, meaning that the RX has honed its chops to a finer premium point. Let's take a look at 10 things you need to know about the 2016 Lexus RX.
It's impossible to ignore the 2016 Lexus RX's styling makeover, which has brought the mid-size SUV firmly into the family of design cues that began trickling into Lexus showrooms a few short years ago. Most prominent is the Lexus RX's grille, a protruding hexagonal maw that shares more than a passing resemblance with the smaller-scale front fascia displayed by the compact Lexus NX. A further sharpening of the RX's creases along the sides and at the rear complement the bold new look, which may prove polarizing to longtime customers but which could also attract fresh blood to the brand.
The changes to the 2016 Lexus RX platform go more than sheet metal-deep. There's an almost two-inch increase in the wheelbase of the new Lexus RX, and when measured from lip to tip the entire SUV checks in at 192.5 inches - a stretch of close to fives inches compared to the 2015 model. Helping to cement the RX's new, more imposing road presence is a slightly wider track combined with a lower roofline that slopes more dramatically to the rear. Visually that sleeker profile can be deceiving, as Lexus has actually given the sport-utility vehicle a slight boost in overall ride height for the current model year.
With a longer wheelbase and a bit of extra body width, the 2016 Lexus RX promises more spacious interior accommodations than ever before. Up front, a lower seating position helps to enhance the car-like feel that so many luxury suv buyers are seeking, while the rear seat is capable of both sliding and reclining in order to enhance the comfort of those riding out back. Just over 18 cubic feet of cargo space is available when carrying a full load of passengers, but fold down the rear row - not completely flat, unfortunately - and capacity increases to 56.3 cubes. This number places the Lexus RX well behind a number of its mid-size luxury rivals in terms of total hauling capacity.
The grille isn't the only thing that's bigger for the 2016 Lexus RX. On the center stack, the SUV also boasts an enormous 12.3-inch LCD screen that handles the vehicle's infotainment interface. This big window into the world of navigation, communications, and music is a welcome one, but sadly it comes paired with the Lexus Remote Touch controller, a mouse-like device mounted on the RX's console that is twitchy at best and distracting at worst when attempting to use the system while driving. At the very least the Lexus RX manages to avoid the touchpad found in the smaller Lexus NX SUV, which is even more difficult to work with.
Lexus has split the 2016 RX into two distinct trim levels. The base RX 350 offers features such as a power liftgate, LED fog lights and running lights, keyless ignition and entry, dual automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a rearview camera, an eight-inch infotainment system, 18-inch wheels, and LED headlights. Step up to the RX 350 F Sport (which, while presented as a package, serves as a second 'trim' for the SUV) and you'll benefit from an adaptive suspension system, 20-inch rims, heated and cooled sport seats, paddle shifters for the transmission, unique performance drive modes, leather upholstery, and more aggressive styling inside and out.
The 2016 Lexus RX makes it easy to customize the equipment provided with the vehicle thanks to a long list of options packages. The Premium package provides leather seats for the base Lexus RX along with additional interior storage, a memory function for the driver, wood trim, and automatic windshield wipers, while the Navigation package installs nav, the Remote Touch infotainment system, a louder stereo, and the Enform suite of apps. Selecting the Luxury package scoops up the contents of the Premium package and adds heated and cooled front seats, nicer leather, additional power adjustments for the two forward positions, and power operation of the slide and recline second-row bench feature.
The 2016 Lexus RX features a 3.5-liter V-6, just like it did in the previous generation. Although the displacement of the new engine might match the old, there's a bonus of 25 extra horsepower to be had with the revised drivetrain, which now produces a total of 295 ponies and 267 lb-ft of torque. Another big improvement: Lexus has swapped in an eight-speed automatic to replace the previous six-speed unit. Despite the extra might and the additional ratios, the RX is heavier than the model it replaces, which means it takes a few ticks over 7.5 seconds to hit 60-mph from a standing start. Fuel mileage for the Lexus suv checks in at 20-mpg city and 28-mpg highway.
The 2016 Lexus RX is offered in front-wheel drive form when ordered in base trim, but an all-wheel drive system is available with the SUV. It would be a mistake to think that the Lexus RX is suitable for off-roading - even with its new additional ground clearance, the vehicle is intended to handle nothing tougher than a gravel road or maybe a grassy field - but the all-wheel drive system does offer enhanced grip when dealing with slicker road conditions. This makes the AWD Lexus ideally suited for dealing with harsh winter climates.
If you're looking to maximize fuel economy, then you might want to skip the RX 350 and move right into the 2016 Lexus RX 450h. The Lexus RX 450h offers a hybrid drivetrain that pairs its 3.5-liter V-6 with two electric motors (or even three if you order all-wheel drive). With 309 horsepower on tap, the RX 450h is actually somewhat slower than its gas-only counterpart due to the more than 300 lbs added by its hybrid system. The upshot to the pokier setup is enhanced efficiency: the EPA estimates the Lexus RX 450h at 30-mpg around town and 28-mpg on the highway.
The 2016 Lexus RX works hard to keep its passengers protected from an accident out on the road. Over and above its standard suite of airbags, the Lexus RX also offers advanced safety equipment that includes a blind spot monitoring system, a forward collision warning system (with automatic braking), a pedestrian detection system that will halt the vehicle should someone step out in front of it, and a lane departure warning and lane departure intervention system. The majority of these features are offered as part of the Lexus Safety System + package.