Touring around in the 2016 Lexus RX 450h F Sport

The Lexus RX class of SUVs’ has come a long way since it debuted in the late 1990s as the RX300. The Lexus RX is currently the bestselling Lexus model today and with the 2016 arriving showcasing its many new features, this could very well continue to be the case. Traveling from Washington DC, my destination to test out this magnificent fleet of vehicles was Raliegh North Carolina at the luxurious Umstead Hotel and Spa.

To start the day off, the automotive journalist group were treated to a very informative presentation given by Maurice Durand – Lexus product communication specialist, Yuval Steiman – Lexus national marketing manager and Doug Herbert from Lexus College. The 4th generation Lexus RX class is available in 4 different models: The RX 350, RX 350 F Sport, RX 450h Hybrid and the RX 450h F Sport. Each model delivers the luxurious look and feel that Lexus is known for and definitely an upgrade from the 2015 edition.

Upon first look, I have to say that the 2016 Lexus RX seriously boasts a great new look, highlighting a lot curves, angles and concaves throughout the vehicle. The new spindle grill stands out, encompassing the majority of the front of the vehicle and definitely giving it a sleek and sporty look with the L-shaped lighting elements. The fourth-generation Lexus RX has been redesigned allowing more inside leg room by increasing its length by 4.7 inches. Technically the Lexus RX now measures at 44.1- and 38-inches which is up from 2015’s 43.1 and 36.8 dimensions.

More boost is being outputted now as the RX 450h received a power increase with the 2GR-FXS 3.5-liter V6 hybrid engine which now generates 308 horsepower and 247 lb.-ft. torque, this is up from 295 horsepower and 234 lb.-ft. torque in the 2015 model. Lexus has estimated the RX 450h fuel economy at 30 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway and 30 combined for all-wheel drive. Estimated was also 31 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway and 30 for front-wheel drive. This is about a 1 mpg better than the current Lexus RX model. A cool thing to note is that the RX 450h AWD uses the Lexus E-Four proactive AWD system. This intuitive Lexus system limits the use of all-wheel drive by switching over to full front-wheel drive when braking, this action charges the nickel-metal hydride battery.

A few extra components to mention would be the 20 inch wheels, LED rear combination lamps, Macpherson Strut from suspension and the Michelin premier LTX tire. The RX 350 and RX 450h will be offered in nine colors: Eminent White, Nebula Gray Pearl, Silver Lining Metallic, Obsidian, Caviar, Matador Red Mica, Satin Cashmere Metallic, Autumn Shimmer, and Nightfall Mica. A special thing to note is the nickel metal hydride battery maintained by Lexus, especially when many manufacturers are switching over to lithium. Lexus is offering multiple sound packages for this vehicle with the standard 9 speaker package, 12 speaker package for navigation and the ultimate 15 speaker Mark Levinson package. I absolutely loved the navigation system with a 12.3-inch display but not really impressed with the Remote Touch controller. The display was perfect in width and length, if it sat up any higher it would be an obstacle in my view and unsafe.

Now that we have covered the aesthetics it is time to move on to the drive time. The pre-production 2016 Lexus RX 450h F Sport was smooth and solid but not so quiet on the inside. The V6 engine accelerated from stop lights and out of corners expeditiously. The Micheline tires hugged the road so well in the corners and did not slip in the wet conditions. I tested the vehicle in all of the “Drive Mode Select” options. The Drive Mode Select controller offers Eco, Sport S and Sport S+. These different options are define as “ECO” mode emphasizes fuel efficiency by smoothing out throttle response and reducing demand on air conditioning system, the “SPORT S” mode increasing the responsiveness of the throttle response and tunes in the Electric Power Steering and the “SPORT S+” mode combines SPORT S mode with sharper power steering and a stiffer suspension setting. A great new feature is the “CUSTOMIZE” mode, this allows the driver to be able to personalize the driving experience.

The 2016 RX is being offered with the new Lexus Safety System + package. This package includes an all-speed dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert with lane keeping assist, and intelligent high-beam headlights and the pre-collision system with pedestrian detection. As an option, the consumer can get the Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert. This technology alerts the driver when approaching vehicles are outside of the visible area available on the highway or while reversing. There are also the standard ten air bags on all RX models.

The Lexus RX surely stands up against its competition in the performance SUV market such as the BMW X5/X6, Mercedes-Benz ML 350, Acura MDX and even the Audi Q5/Q7. Priced competitively in the luxury market the RX 350 FWD starts at $41,900 and the AWD at $43,300 AWD. The RX 450h FWD starts at $52,235 with the AWD starting at $53,635. Enjoy the photo gallery.

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