Much like that cute but shy girl who is wearing baggy clothing and badly drawn make-up, with the Lexus RX AL10 all the fun is underneath the clothing. Lexus RX AL10, a small facelift for a big car.
Because Lexus realised that they had the Audi R8 issue – if the recipe is right straight from the launch, why improve it? They started with a right foot with the very first Lexus RX, when they found out that only 7% of SUV owners actually use them for off-roading, and that was all the way back in 1993, when The Food Network premiered and USA elected a saxophonist as president. So they built what was basically an Lexus ES on stilts, an on-road SUV with modicum off-road abilities….actually scratch that, with occasional off-road abilities and it was a great succes.
Then they decided to further the on-road route with the 2nd generation, the Lexus UX30, by launcing the very first mainstream luxury SUV with an hybrid powertrain. The regular RX kept it’s regular 4WD system, but the hybrid system ditched it much like how you ditched your childhood dreams and accepted your 40-year-old-2-kids-mid-management-office-job destiny. But the hybrid was still a crude contraption so they decided to improve on the system and you can clearly see that the focus on the Lexus RX AL10 was on the hybrid powertrain and that’s it. Might aswell just buy the hybrid powertrain and make the rest of the car optional.
So what are these dramatic changes all about?
- I think that Seth Dozerman put it best – “Efficiency, efficiency, efficiency.” Sure, he could’ve said “efficiency” once but this is how he establishes his dominance and sense of humor. This generation RX comes with ULEV-II compliance, greater fuel economy, more interior space, more toys to make your life that much easier. Vehicle stability assist, hill control, adaptive headlights, back-up camera with wide view and other posh and fancy terms which was up there with the best in terms of excess and oppulence.
- Even more street cred. They realised that too few people will go off-roading so they dropped the center locking differential altogether and geared the torque converter for 4WD and it can go 100% FWD and up to 50% FWD and 50% RWD, and the default setting is FWD so more fuel economy shenanigans. They also dropped the old MacPherson suspension and brought over a double wishbone setup for more boot space and a more relaxed ride, albeit a sports suspension was optional.
- New models as here debuts the F-Sport variant and also there was an all-electric test mule which used stole…I mean borrowed Tesla batteries for further development. But if we stick to the F-Sport variant, then it’s easy to see the on-road direction they took with the Lexus RX AL10
Lexus RX AL10 Engines
- 2.7 l-4 1AR-FE of 188 horsepower – Launched exclusively for Japan, China and Russia where there are additional taxes on engines which go beyond the 3 litre mark, as the RX was launched with it’s standard 3.5 litre V6. They did solve this issue in Europe by offering the hybrid which has reduced taxes, but they had to come with a solution for these countries so they carried over this 2.7 4 cylinder petrol from Toyota and it’s an anvil of an engine, that will last longer than the saxophonist elected as president of USA. Eventually the RX270 was extended to other markets aswell, such as Australia.
- 3.5 V6 2GR-FE of 277 horsepower – Power is up by 7 horsepower from the previous generation and it really makes all the difference in the world for this Lexus RX350. An honest petrol engine which needs only the regular maintainance done on it (spark plugs, coilpacks, water pumps) and it will also last longer than the saxophonist elected as president of USA. And this is the Lexus RX AL10 to buy if you want a no-fuss RX, with little to no maintainance and if you’re not bothered by the mpg. It comes also in FWD configuration, all RXs are automatic, it has no hybrid hocus-pocus to worry about so it’s the most reliable and low-maintaince RX you can buy from this generation, if you don’t mind the MPG that much but honestly it’s not that far off from the hybrid. And if you really to go fast, the North America models come with an 8 speed automatic for the F-Sport model, the regular one coming with a peasantry 6-speed sequential automatic. Both are good though.
3.5 V6 2GR-FXE + Electric of 299 horsepower – Like I said with the previous generation, all this hybrid hocus-pocus can get very expensive when it starts to fail. And Toyota / Lexus offer a 10 year warranty on the hybrid powertrain so the freshest ones of Bel Air will be warranty covered up until 2025 but most of them are just exiting the warranty period so prepare yourself and the battery levels definatelly have to be checked before purchase. Otherwise there are 2 new big changes to the Lexus RX450h from the previous hybrid. The first one is that this is no longer the standard engine with a battery strapped on like the old 3.3 V6 1MR-FE, this is a 2GR-FE engine modified to run on Atkinson cycle, as Atkinson engines are optimised for fuel economy but the performance is downgraded. So it’s a bigger Prius basically. The second big one is the all new CVT automatic gearbox and I’m not a big fan of it, both on how it runs and how it’s maintained but usually when it fails you have to buy a new one. Possibly a new car if the bill is too big. And in this day and age you might end up cheaper and more fun to drive the regular RX350.
Lexus RX AL10 Reliability Issues
- It’s over-engineered so what fails fails rarely but fails expensive. Alot of the more difficult repairs can be done solely at the dealership and you will pay brand-new Lexus money. And it’s especially painful with the LX450h hybrid as not many repair shops are equipped and trained for hybrids.
- You can feel the american vibe of this Lexus and pretty much every Lexus from this era because it’s very good in a straight line but very poor in a corner. If you drive constantly on twisty roads or encounter bends frequently, you may want to test drive the RX first and see if you can get along with the suspension.
- Not the greatest boot space, especially true for the hybrid. But if you can afford an Lexus RX I suppose that you have a second car, with it’s own chauffer, that carries your luggage around.
Lexus RX AL10 Verdict
They took the original recipe and moved it further into the luxury Chelsea tractor area. It’s got heads-up display, it’s got an complicated hybrid system, it’s got optional self-leveling air suspension. What will they do next I wonder?
Which engines do I recommend? If you want a no-fuss RX, then the Lexus RX350 with it’s 3.5 V6 engine and FWD is all the car you’ll ever need to luxuriously enjoy if the climate allows it. And if you live in a country where every engine above 1 litre is punishable by law, just stick to the RX450h hybrid.