The third generation Lexus RX was a pretty good exercise for the brand but it’s still had it’s downsides but atleast it got it’s foot in the door. And then came along the most famous RX of them all, the Lexus RX AL20. Find out why, in today’s article.
Lexus launched back in 1989 and it was a brand new manufacturer with no identity so it took them awhile to get their kick in the nads…I mean their foot in the door. Sure they had this brilliant ideea during a business luncheon in 1993 where everybody got drunk and said “Guys, listen to me, how about we make an SUV version of the ES?” and in one week the concept was ready. They did some market research and found out that, at the time, only 7% Chelsea tractor owners actually took their Chelsea tractors off-roading and the SUV was mostly a status symbol and later on the official soccermom chariot.
And so came about the first generation Lexus RX, which was an on-road inclined SUV with some off-road capabilities and it performed fairly well so Lexus decided to continue with the second generation but they thought that just being another Chelsea tractor won’t cut it so they have to do something different. And so the very first mainstream hybrid powertrain was launched for an SUV. Sure, it was a crude contraption and very much a curiosity at the time, but by the third generation they already improved the hybrid and the overall comfort theme of the SUV and it started to gain real traction as a car and as a brand.
There was however one big issue with the third generation RX. They were so busy perfecting the powertrain, especially the hybrid, that they forgot to update the rest of the car. Sure, it was cozy and premium, but it lacked on ride quality, interior space, interior looks and the boot was so small you could only in a Los Van Van CD. And it was fairly packed with technology on the inside, but the outside of the car was pretty standard for 2010’s.
So they decided to go full ham with the Lexus RX AL20, the 4th generation and the most recognizable one to be fair. It’s an interesting mix of old and new. It’s a laptop on wheels but it’s still got analog instruments. It’s got Heads-Up Display but still has 5000 knobs and buttons to push. So inside it’s pretty much standard Lexus stuff, but the exterior has been massively updatedd and now looks like a proper high-tech car but it still catters to the older customers who can’t quite grasp all the HUD and digital stuff, because let’s be honest, the Lexus RX demographic is even older than the Toyota Camry general demographic, because this is one expensive Chelsea tractor. Furthermore, the younger demographic was presented with the Lexus NX which is cheaper and smaller but most importantly cheaper to buy and run and it was a better way to get into the Lexus experience. So the RX catters mostly to the grey haired customers and they straightened most of their previous minuses.
So what does this RX bring new to the table?
- First of all, a massive improvement on the comfort side for the suspension. It’s still not the most inspiring or safe when it comes to cornering and general bends, but for straight line driving it is a thing of beauty. So basically the North American and Australian demographic, which are exactly the markets where Lexus fairs best. And yes, the F-Sport and it’s sport suspension live on.
- It’s also a massive improvement on interior space, particularly the rear headroom and the boot as many owners of the previous gen complained about it. So the japanese took the cramped boot issue and transfered it over to the Lexus NX. And for those still lacking for space, they even offered a long version for the Lexus RX350 L and RX450h L models, which are 4.3 inches longer.
- By 2020 they started to cater to the younger audiences and brought wireless phone charging, smartphone mirroring windows, cyclist daytime detection and many pedestrian and lane safety features. So even if you’re too old to pain attention or too busy playing FarmVille, the Lexus RX AL20 will handle the traffic and the driving part altogether for you.
Lexus RX AL20 Engines
- 2.0 l-4 Turbo 8AR-FTS of 235 horsepower – Not too bad of an engine, but mounting it on the RX is like having Graham Norton carry Paul Wight on his back. Sure it’s reliable but not the sharpest tool for the RX shed. Toyota really took their time with turbocharged petrol and let other manufacturers take the plunge and find out and they launched their first turbocharged petrol fairly late in the game but atleast they’re reliable. The only real downside is that they are also very complex and complicated and diagnosis and repairs will take forever as there’s so much technology running around you’d think they participated in the Youth Gang Funday.
- 3.5 V6 2GR-FKS of 290, 295 and 300 horsepower – Should you be afraid of new technology but still somehow lust for a laptop on wheels that is not too complex, then the Lexus RX350 is still the one to buy. Power slightly increased from the previous generation and it’s the most reliable, and fun to drive. As with the previous generation, the regular RX350 gets a 6 speed Toyota-sourced automatic which is fine and the RX350 F-Sport gets a 8 speed Aisin-sourced automatic which is super fine. So just change the oil on time, feed it spark plugs and coilpacks and water pumps on time and everybody will be happy.
3.5 V6 2GR-FXS + Electric of 308 and 313 horsepower combined – I’ve talked about in detail about this hybrid powertrain in the previous generation, as it’s fairly much the same cake only with some more sugar on top, pretty please. Only that there the main issue was with it’s age, as Toyota offers a 10 year warranty on the hybrid powertrain and most of them were out of warranty, but with the Lexus RX AL20 even the earliest models are still in warranty. Also I need to mention that the hybrid powertrain needs some charging via long-distance driving for time to time, as short bursts aka city driving don’t do well to the system and it will drain it as a corporate worker is drained of life when working weekends. Also, should the batteries go flat as Gwendoline Christie never ever charge them straight from another car’s battery. You must use a trickle charger.
Lexus RX AL20 Reliability Issues
- As mentioned somewhere in the introduction, the Lexus RX AL20 has it’s suspension mostly sorted out but it’s still bad in high speed corner situation. Or moderate speed corner situation. Or low speed corner situation. Or single-digit speed cornering situation. Or standing-still cornering situation.
- And the only real complaint is with the outdated infotainment but then again you have to think about the older people who are buying this Chelsea tractor but then again don’t buy a high-tech Chelsea tractor if you’re not into technology.
Lexus RX AL20 Verdict
This is the RX to rule them all. The most iconic RX from the family and the one that we will always think of when saying RX. It’s finally got the looks to match the technology underneath, it’s finally spacious, it’s finally comfortable. In other words, it’s the best thing to happen since Joe Benett and it’s one of my all time favourites. Now I just have to scrape the hellish amount of money this Chelsea tractor demands.
Which engines do I recommend? It’s either the RX350 2GR-FKS 300 horsepower naturally aspirated, or the hybrid RX450h 2GR-FXS of 313 horsepower. I wouldn’t bother with the 2 litre turbo, which is fine but not on the RX.