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2016 Lexus RX First Look

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 3/31/2015 Christian Seabaugh

Allow me to crib from the SAT's analogy section for a sec: The RX is to Lexus as the F-150 is Ford. In the Lexus brand's 26 short years of existence, the company has sold more than 2.1 million vehicles. Of those 2.1 million, about 630,000 (or three in 10) are examples of the highly successful Lexus RX. In short, it's a big freaking deal. It's with those facts in mind that Toyota has gone back to the drawing board, seeking to evolve the 2016 Lexus RX in such a way to appeal to its existing customers while widening its popular appeal.

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Unveiled today at the 2015 New York International Auto Show, the 2016 Lexus RX doesn't mess with its successful package too much. The crossover's largest changes are to its physical dimensions. Sharing its basic platform with the Toyota Highlander, the 2016 RX's wheelbase grows 1.9 inches from the 2015 model to 107.9 inches. The 2016 RX's overall length grows, too, increasing 4.7 inches to 192.5 inches. With more sheetmetal to work with than before, Lexus sought to make the RX look sportier, achieving the effect with a more aggressive roofline, blacked-out C-pillars, and muscular front fender flares that flow through the length of the RX's flanks. Up front is Lexus' familiar spindle grille -- it gets a mesh treatment on F-Sport models -- and LED running lights, foglights, and available "triple L"-shaped headlights. In back, the new RX sports LED taillights and dual-exhaust pipes on V-6 models.

2016 Lexus RX 450h© Provided by MotorTrend 2016 Lexus RX 450h The larger exterior dimensions mean more passenger room inside the RX's leather-filled cabin. The wheelbase stretch means those riding in back will get more legroom than in previous generations of the Lexus RX. Those sitting in that power-folding 60/40-split rear bench also get heated seats and a clear view out the 2016 RX's new panoramic moonroof. Those sitting up front will get to enjoy a new optional 12.3-inch infotainment display mounted high up on the center stack, and the driver will also get an optional head-up display.

Not much changes under the hood of the 2016 Lexus RX. The RX 350's 3.5-liter V-6 gets a 30-horsepower bump up to 300 hp and now is mated to last year's F-Sport's eight-speed automatic transmission. The 2016 RX 450h hybrid also gets a power bump, albeit a minor one; the 3.5-liter V-6 and electric motor combination is now good for 300 hp, up 5 hp from last year. The RX 450h's powertrain is mated to a CVT. Both versions of the RX are available in front- or all-wheel drive. Torque, fuel economy, and acceleration figures will be available at a later date, though we expect the V-6 models to accelerate from 0-60 mph in about 6 seconds and hybrids to hit the same mark in about 7 seconds.

2016 Lexus RX First Look

2016 Lexus RX 450H 1© Provided by MotorTrend 2016 Lexus RX 450H 1 The most meaningful performance enhancement to the 2016 RX is what Lexus calls "Adaptive Variable Suspension," or AVS. AVS is essentially an electronically adjustable suspension that works with the RX's drive mode select to tailor the suspension's behavior to the drive mode. Speaking of performance, an RX 350 F-Sport will be available on all-wheel-drive V-6 models. Although it doesn't actually have any performance-enhancing hardware, it does get a unique front end, 20-inch wheels (an RX first), a sport steering wheel, an LFA-inspired instrument cluster, and a Sport + AVS mode.

Also new to the 2016 Lexus RX is a full suite of active safety technology. Dubbed Lexus Safety System + (LSS+), it includes a radar- and camera-based forward collision alert system with braking capabilities, lane departure warning, and automatic high-beam assist. Available LSS+ extras include a lane keep assist function, radar cruise control, a 360-degree camera system, a blind-spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, and radar cruise control.

The 2016 Lexus RX will likely hit dealers toward the tail end of 2015. Pricing will probably be in line with the current model, with front-wheel-drive RX 350s starting around $42,000 and all-wheel-drive RX 450hs stickering around $50,000. Although the RX formula may have been changed just a bit, we're betting the slightly bigger 2016 RX continues to be Lexus' bread and butter well into the future. 2016 Lexus RX 450H 4© Provided by MotorTrend 2016 Lexus RX 450H 4

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