Its ability to blend luxury with utility while providing the best in class ride makes it one of the best SUVs ever made.
If you talk about vehicles that were among the first ones to be part of the luxury SUV game, then there's no argument that the Lexus RX was one of its founders and most certainly one of the first luxury SUVs that brought unprecedented reliability as well as car-like ride quality to the fore.
While other SUVs in the nineties were built on body-on-frame platforms, the RX which was also known as the rebadged Toyota Harrier back then was built on a unibody, giving it that non-jittery and controlled ride.
Being able to combine practicality, luxury, reliability, and comfort was how the RX won so many hearts, and to no surprise, it has also won many awards around the world due to that package.
The RX faces more competition than ever now and as much as other brands have tried hard to knock it down off its perch, they have all failed, because not only has Lexus managed to make all of those loveable RX qualities better year after year, they have also added some extra pizzaz each time.
This improvement generation after generation has made the RX the best selling SUV in most markets. It is highly regarded and undefeated when it comes to sales figures. But what is it that makes this SUV so unique? What is it exactly that makes the RX so wanted? We borrowed one to find out.
The current generation RX is the fourth and the ones you can view at Lexus' showrooms across Malaysia is the facelift version. There are three variants available, starting with the RX300 Premium, and then the RX300 Luxury. The top dog for the RX300 variant is called the RX300 F Sport, and naturally, we wanted to try out the best of the best.
If you're not familiar with Lexus' nomenclature, the F Sport is basically the variant you buy if you want your Lexus to have a sporty character. In the case of the RX300 F Sport, the most notable differences over the other two lower variants are its enormous and aggressive black front grille, sportier unique design rims, and most important of all, AVS (Adaptive Variable Suspension).
The F Sport design totally transforms the exterior look of the RX. If it were a suit, it'd look like a suit made by Issey Miyake - you know, the ones that the Yakuzas like to wear. That substantial black front grille is so aggressive that if there was ever to be an updated LFA, it would have the RX's front end. It just accentuates the sharp front end design of the SUV. The darker rims also add to the sporty character and complete the look - like shoes made by Junya Watanabe to compliment that Yakuza Issey Miyake suit.
While the exterior looks sporty, the interior is classy. Everything just seems to have that extra air of lushness to it. The dashboard is soft to touch, the roof liner is as smooth as velvet, seats are comfortable and supportive, and the buttons, stalks and knobs are all nicely weighted. Even the radio's volume button rotates nicely.
It is truly a representation of what luxury is supposed to be like. It doesn't just look it, it feels like it too. Of course, air-conditioned front seats, thick floor carpets, as well as powered rear seats help add to the whole experience, but there's just something about the interior that tells you that Lexus spent countless number of hours to make you feel like you are in the Japanese emperor's living room. It just feels like it was made for royalty.
The other thing that gives you that special feeling is how the car rides. The Adaptive Variable Suspension by Lexus really does trump the ride quality from its German competition. It's simply magical and a joy to experience. While other manufacturers firm up the suspension to help provide control over the big SUV bodies which results in a clunky ride, the RX's is weirdly firm but soft. It's tough to explain through words, you just have to try it out. You can also firm up the RX's suspension by selecting sport through the driving mode dial, but after feeling the normal mode you wouldn't want to - it's just heavenly.
The other reason why we say that you shouldn't bother going into sports mode is because the 2.0-litre turbocharged engine with 235hp and 350Nm of torque is a bit, meh!! The 6-speed automatic gearbox is also not that snappy, so what's the point. Don't get us wrong, because the car can move swiftly and get up to illegal speeds fast. It's just that it doesn't particularly feel energetic about it.
But then again, this is not the whole point of the Lexus RX300 F Sport. The whole point of this SUV is to provide you with an aggressive sporty looking SUV, but with a ride that makes you feel like you are on a magic carpet. Why bother going so fast anyways, you'd want to go slow enough so that everyone can see and appreciate the design of the car. It will turn heads and grab attention wherever it goes.
If I had to pick a car for long journeys, this car would be right up there in the top 3. It has practicality, comfort, luxury but most important of all, a heck of a ride.