When it comes to SUVs, I’ve had my fair share of trying them out. From an unassuming Swede, to a popular Japanese SUV and a range powerful German SUVs, none could have prepared me for my time with the Lexus RX. To be honest, I was somewhat reluctant to take the Lexus, as the sheer size of it does intimidate me.
Outside, the new Lexus RX 200t F Sport is far from a looker. The large signature Lexus ‘Spindle Grille’ won’t be winning beauty accolades any time soon, but as they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The F Sport variant of the RX features a mesh design in the spindle grille. Lexus designers thought that sharp lines would add appeal to the RX, and implemented sharp edges from bumper to bumper. Furthermore, the F Sport variant adds the black housing for the side mirrors and exclusive 20-inch alloy wheels.
The front end of the Lexus RX is surrounded by a pair of sharp LED headlights, fog lights and daytime running lights. The L-shaped LED headlights features 18 individual LEDs that provides excellent visibility. The rear end is complemented by a pair of LED tail lights with LED rear foglights. The rear wiper is hidden just below the massive rear wing, giving the RX a relatively clean look from the back.
Stepping into the Lexus RX, you’ll be greeted with traditional Lexus luxury. Almost every panel in the RX has a leather trim, including the dashboard, door cards, centre console and arm rest. Unique to the F Sport trim is the meter combination, which features a G-Ball and turbo boost pressure meter in the multi information display (MID). The F Sport variant also gains exclusive leather seats with unique stitching. The paddle shifter you see here are also exclusive to the sportier F Sport. The RX 200t Premium and RX 200t Luxury foregoes these.
But all the interior bits and pieces cannot outshine the Lexus RX’s key highlight: it’s new turbocharged four. A new turbocharged engine you ask? Well, Toyota is not stranger to turbocharged cars, as their forced-induced Toyota MR2 and Celica has gained a large following, thanks to its legendary 3S-GTE mill. In fact, one of the last Toyotas to receive this identical mill is the Toyota Caldina, an unassuming wagon. This new turbocharged four made a debut with Lexus’ first premium compact SUV, the NX.
On paper at least, the Lexus RX’s engine may be somewhat unremarkable, pushing out just 235 horsepower from 4,800 – 5,600 rpm, but its peak torque of 350 Nm is readily available from just 1,650 rpm till 4,000 rpm. All RX 200t variants share the same engine, with identical power figures. Forced induction is courtesy of a Lexus-designed twin-scroll turbocharger that is able to push out a maximum of 17 psi boost with a wide open throttle. According to them, designing the turbocharger in-house allowed them to take charge of all of its specifications, as opposed to purchasing them off a third-party manufacturer. Thanks to the RX 200t’s healthy low end torque, this two-tonne SUV can sprint from a dead stop to 100 km/h in just 9.5 seconds, before reaching a top speed of 200 km/h.
Engine aside, the six-speed electronically-controlled automatic transmission is also worthy of a mention. This transmission is similar to the one found on the RX’s smaller sibling, the NX. While the torque converter-based automatic transmission here won’t be as lightning quick as a dual-clutch solution, gear shifts are silky smooth, and reasonably quick. The torque converter found in this gearbox has been specially engineered to be matched with the new engine.
Upon familiarizing myself with the size of the Lexus, my initial impressions of this SUV is how easy to drive, especially on bigger roads. The large size of the RX meant that even blind motorists would notice you, if the bright LED daytime running lights coupled with the huge spindle grille didn’t already get their attention. The RX cruises on highways with tremendous amount of refinement and NVH levels are damn impressive indeed, even at significantly higher speeds. Thanks to its two-tonne curb weight and various aero enhancements, the Lexus RX remains incredibly planted on long roads, with barely noticeable wind and tyre noise.
However, the true challenge soon rears its head, as the size of the RX decides to be its biggest challenge. Navigating into parking lots soon made me realize how useful the Panoramic View Monitor actually is. The Panoramic View Monitor works by stitching images from cameras mounted around the Lexus RX, which then displays a top-down view of the car on the 8-inch Electro Multi Vision (EMV) display. This, coupled with the front parking sensors meant that parking and navigating through tight spots a little easier.
As I mentioned earlier, the engine of the Lexus RX is a remarkable piece of engineering. But paper specifications aside, boy this engine really performs. The engine responds to throttle inputs with needle-like precision, and the boost meter jumps with every prod of the throttle. While some are quick to dismiss a turbo engine’s lack of character, there is a large possibility they’ve yet to try this gem fitted to the RX. Under normal circumstances, the turbocharged mill works as it should, balancing fuel consumption with performance. But foot down on the throttle, the 8AR-FTS is far by one of the best sounding four-cylinder engines I’ve tried, to date. There’s a hint of muscularity in the way the engine revs, and coupled with the turbocharger’s faint whistle, the Lexus RX is, indeed alive and ready to prowl.
Further completing the sporty nature of the Lexus RX 200t F Sport is the Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS). When the driver selects the Sport+ drive mode, the linear solenoid actuator in the absorber control actuator is able to provide a variable amount of damping force, thus eliminating body roll. F Sport variants of the Lexus RX is also fitted with Performance Dampers. All of these work in perfect harmony to allow the RX to tackle corners with confidence, yet at the same time maintaining sufficient ride comfort for families.
Being a Lexus, safety is paramount. All variants of the Lexus RX is fitted with no less than 10 airbags, including dual-stage and dual chamber driver and front passenger airbags, knee airbag for the driver, front side airbags and rear side airbags. Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) is also present, alongside ISOFIX child seat mounts, ABS, EBD, Brake Assist (BA), Traction Control (TRAC), Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Hill-start Assist Control (HAC).
With a retail price of RM422,990, the Lexus RX 200t F Sport is not cheap. But, with that being said, owners of a Lexus can sure stand by the company’s famed customer service, which itself is an industry benchmark. The Lexus RX certainly packs all the bells and whistles one can wish for in a premium SUV, with the added Toyota-reliability assurance.
Before I end my review on the Lexus RX, watch the videos below of the turn indicators in action. Yes, it is that cool.
Lexus RX 200t F Sport Photo Gallery