Regarding the matter of luxury crossover SUVs, Lexus has a triumphant plan that keeps the RX above the opposition. In 2014 alone, the Lexus RX out sold it’s immediate rival, the BMW X5, and almost surpassed all the BMW crossover models joined with 107,690 units. Presently, with the 2016 Lexus RX 350 and 450h, the Japanese automobile manufacturer has increased the stakes. The fourth era Lexus SUV has been updated from grille to taillights and wheels to rooftop.

Appearance and Styling

Since 1998, the RX has been known for its easy and plush ride with a humble appearance. Making one vast jump the other way, Lexus has formed and shaped the outside of it’s most current SUV to give it a more lively look. Acquiring some features from the NX 200t, the design group included hard edges and folds – creating a more athletic appearance.

The most recognizable of changes is that of the trademark Lexus spindle grille. This is one of the biggest, most unmistakable grille outlines that the brand has utilized. It’s more extensive and more pronounced; nearly covering the vehicle’s front from corner to corner. Even the haze lights are settled in a triangular-chasm streams down toward the asphalt and planes out toward the street ahead.

A head-on look at this vehicle screams for attention and will definitely get what it demands. Curvilinear headlamps illuminate the road ahead and house the now standard bi-LED lights and optional triple L-shape-LED lights. Daytime Running Lights (DRLs) rest below the LED headlamps and consist of 18 individual LEDs and act as turn indicators. One thing that will be hard to notice on the new RX is the flush fitting headlamp washers that hide out of sight when not in use.

The blacked-out C-pillars of the RX give it a space-aged look of a floating roof for the first time ever seen on a Lexus model. Doors on the new SUV have been finished with a new SmartAccess handle with puddle lamps which provides illumination to the ground below for passengers entering the vehicle. New colors (Caviar, Autumn Shimmer, and Nightfall Mica) canvas the crossover and feature a scratch-resistant self-restoring coat in the body paint. This new coating, using a high-performance macromolecular polymer, resist scratches from fingernails around the door handles and enhances the gloss and color of the paint over a long period of time.

Engine

The fourth-generation, 2016 Lexus RX 350 received more than a cosmetic makeover. What Lexus has put into the new vehicle’s drivetrain will have manufacturers continuing to chase this SUV, both on and off the road. A new engine build, transmission, and suspension highlight some of the new changes in the 2016 RX.

Staying true to the previous generation, Lexus powers the RX with a 3.5-Liter, V-6 engine. Of course, this new SUV with it’s athletic and aggressive styling couldn’t just receive a transplant of the previous RX’s engine. Moving from a multi-port fuel injection system to a direct injection fuel system brings an added heart beat to the new RX in both performance and fuel efficiency. Providing 295-horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque, the 2016 Lexus RX achieves 2-mpg more than it’s predecessor on both front-wheel and all-wheel drive models.

Transmission

While the past generation RX offered an accessible 8-speed transmission (on F-game models), every one of the 2016 RX 350 models will highlight a responsive 8-speed transmission. The extra gears in this transmission offer better fuel mileage, a harder punch off the line, and more prominent passing power over the fourth-gen RX. The RX 450h will continue to get a CVT transmission.

Chassis

Using high-tech body adhesives and laser screw welding the structural integrity and overall rigidity has been increased in the 2016 crossover. A new process called “annular frame construction” was implemented for strengthened frame sections within the vehicle around the front and rear doors. High-tensile strength steel is used in key areas such as the underbody cross members both A and B-pillars. These enhancements help increase handling and occupant protection while helping keep the cabin quieter.

Suspension

The RX’s front-strut and rear double-wishbone suspension system has been optimized to provide greater steering response and ride comfort. Front and rear suspension balance enhances ride performance and quality. Modification of the vehicle’s engine mounts and an increase of rigidity in the front sway bars, front axle, and hub bearings change the driver’s experience, giving them enhanced steering feedback. Additionally, tire grip and traction were changed allowing the RX to respond more crisply and enhance overall agility. Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) is now available as a premium option. AVS changes the damping forces according to road conditions and even responds to acceleration, steering, or braking; further enhancing ride quality.

Steering

To give more fidelity and responsiveness, the RX’s steering system was also modified. The newest Electric Power Steering (EPS) management system was adopted for wider control range or initial steer, return-steer and cornering. Drivers can choose a light and comfortable steering feel or sharpen response and feel “on the fly” with by using the now available Drive Mode Select system.