Saturday, January 9, 2016

Used Car Review - Lexus RX (2009-2015)

This trendsetter will be taking Myk Belmonte's scrutiny and will see if this one is worth the buy.

2009-2015 Lexus RX

Prior to the existence of the Lexus RX/Toyota Harrier models, the marque's first SUV is the Lexus LX, which is based from the Toyota Land Cruiser. With Toyota executives discussing an idea of a crossover between a luxury car and an SUV back in 1993; development commenced the following year and the final design were approved in December 1995. At its launch in 1997, it rode on a car chassis and came with a styling not seen in rivals back then, thus making it a trendsetter with rivals launching competing vehicles in response. Do take note it was first offered as the Toyota Harrier with the Lexus badge utilized months later for export markets, with the former being sold until 2013 (utilizing the second generation model's chassis) and was replaced by a RAV4-based chassis model but retaining its visual link.

Development started in 2004 with the final design being filed for patents in 2007 and prototypes were sent the following year. Although the shape was still the same, numerous improvements were done which includes: the addition of one more gear (previous one is a 5-speed automatic), shift to electronic power steering, utilizes a double wishbone set-up from the previous McPherson in the rear, and for the hyrbid, 200cc more in the engine displacement and runs on the Atkinson cycle (from the previous Otto cycle) system. Russia, Japan, and China gain an entry level model with a 2.7 engine and front wheel drive, in which it is aimed for markets that impose high taxes for vehicles with high emissions and engine displacement.

The RX350 arrived first in March 2009, two months later than the rest of the line-up and the RX450h had its debut the following year. Until the arrival of the NX in 2014, it was the entry level Lexus SUV that you can buy. A style refresh occurred in May 2012 and the fourth generation model was launched in November 2015.

Value and Costs
Before the implementation of the JPEPA trade agreement, it was priced a tad above P4,000,000 for the RX350, but went down to the P3,000,000 range while the RX450h occupied that price range. Nowadays, the cheapest model you can get is priced at P1,750,000 while later ones are in the P2,000,000 range. The hybrid model is rare to find, especially that only a few were sold locally. As a rule for luxury rides, going the pre-owned route (as in this case, Lexus Certified Pre-Owned) is the way to go.

Unlike several Lexus models that has a Toyota counterpart sold here (ES, GX, LX), this one does not have any which means replacement and wear parts would have to go through Lexus Manila or importing them abroad. As for maintenance costs, we can say that it is taking care of one is somewhat below the Europeans, that is if we are talking for the RX350. The RX450h is on the pricier side but do take note that the battery is so durable and can travel for thousands of kilometers without conking down but do make sure it does not discharge very fast or refuses to charge. General lookout points include the cabin and under-chassis for any odd squeak and the hydraulic struts function well.

Exterior and Interior
Adopting the L-finesse design language, you may think this is a rehash of the previous models especially the body silhouette is similar. However, exterior dimensions are larger plus the design language gave the car sharper styling. The 2012 facelift made the car more sharper from the staid looking first versions. Sunroof and 19 inch wheels came standard in the Premier model, an uplevel RX350 in 2012.

Inside, the styling design seen on the outside continues on, with touches that are of high quality and have attention to detail. Also notice the gearstick situated in a tilted manner, as well as the controls follow a theme, rivaling the best that Europe has to offer. As the vehicle got longer, more space comes standard against competitors that have a tight rear. One negative though, rear visibility is poor due to the styling but some models come with an optional back-up camera.

Same engine, but are available in two fuel systems. The RX350 comes with the 2GR-FE 3.5 having 274hp at 6,200rpm and 346Nm at 4,700rpm while the RX450h gets the 2GR-FXE with Atkinson cycle and electric motor of the same displacement but carries 245hp at 6,000rpm and 317Nm at 4,800rpm. Both engines come with smooth acceleration, which is one of its strengths. Do take note that the gasoline powered model has a 6-speed automatic while the hybrid comes with a CVT.

Driving Impressions
Unlike rivals which gives an emphasis on sporty handling, this one has a smooth and silky ride especially that the suspension is biased towards comfort. Despite the bulk, it feels lightweight (you'll feel this one when going through corners) and cornering is a breeze. For the hybrid, you can drive in electric mode and save a lot of fuel for low speeds in short distances. Push it harder, it will have a monstrous characteristic, especially when it is near the redline.

This trendsetter may not have the handling of a sports car, but the target market clearly dictates comfort over else. Toyota made a winner here, since rivals scrambled to make their contenders in this segment that is now hot and overly contested.

The Good:
  • Comfortable ride
  • High quality interior
  • Car-like
The Bad:
  • Not so sporty handling
  • Poor rear visibility
  • Expensive maintenance costs for the hybrid
The Pick: RX350

Engines: 3,456cc 2GR-FE and 2GR-FXE 24V V6 gasoline
Power: 274hp @ 6,200rpm (RX350), 245hp @ 6,000rpm (RX450h)
Torque: 346Nm @ 4,700rpm (RX350), 317Nm @ 4,800rpm (RX450h)
Fuel Consumption: 6-16km/L (city), 8-18km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies, includes both gas and hybrid engines)
Transmission: 6-speed automatic (RX350), continuously variable transmission (RX450h)
Suspension: Front McPherson strut, rear double wishbone

Price (New): P3,800,000-P4,800,000
Price (Now): P1,750,000-P1,980,000
Rivals: Audi Q5, BMW X3, Land Rover Freelander, Volvo XC60
On Sale: 2009-2015

Lexus Manila (02) 865-6060


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