A Brief Look at the Lexus RX

Lexus RX Picture

The History and Evolution of the Lexus RX Vehicle

The Lexus RX model is a mid-size luxury crossover SUV sold since 1998 by the Japanese automaker Toyota’s premium Lexus division. The Lexus RX has become one of the most significant vehicle models in the luxury crossover SUV market segment. Here’s a detailed look into the history and evolution of the Lexus RX vehicle, including all generations, variations, and specs.

The First Generation Lexus RX (1998-2003)

The first generation RX came out in 1998 as a 1999 model. The RX 300 was built to be a highly capable cross between an SUV and a luxury sedan that could tackle rough terrain with aplomb. The RX 300 model came with a V6 engine that produced 220 hp, paired with a four-speed automatic transmission.

Throughout the first generation’s six-year run, minor changes came in the form of cosmetic updates, powertrain refinements, and iterative technology updates. In 2000, the front-wheel-drive RX 300 was released, and anti-lock brakes were added to all wheels. The 2001 model had a couple of minor tweaks, and the 2002 RX got a new grille, in addition to many tweaks to the taillights, and improved suspension and brakes. In 2003, marking the end of the first-generation model, the RX made a final few minor changes, which included the standard addition of a tire pressure monitoring system.

The Second-Generation Lexus RX (2004-2009)

Released in 2003 as a 2004 model, the second-generation Lexus RX platform underwent significant advancements for its time. The RX 330 model included a five-speed automatic transmission and a V6 engine that produced 230 hp. The RX 330 offered the first-ever available rearview camera to assist in reversing. Also, the car’s center dashboard took on a new look with wood accents, and Lexus’s telematics system known as “LexusLink” was offered as an option.

In 2006, Lexus released a hybrid variant known as the RX 400h, which offered a 3.3-liter V6 engine, 208 hp, and an electric motor to increase overall power to 268 hp. The RX 400h used a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and achieved excellent fuel efficiency for the size of this vehicle.

The Third Generation Lexus RX (2010-2015)

The third-generation Lexus RX made its debut in late 2008 as a 2010 model. The RX 350’s V6 engine produced 275 hp with a standard six-speed automatic transmission, surpassing the 2009 RX 350’s output by 5 hp. The RX 450h, the hybrid version of the same model, became more powerful with a combined 295 hp output.

Besides the powertrain upgrades, safety features were emphasized. The third-gen RX model became the first Lexus to offer a blind-spot monitoring system as an optional feature. A virtual joystick controller replaced the traditional knob Toyota and Lexus owners had been using for years to deal with infotainment systems. However, the rearview camera became standard instead of optional before.

The Fourth Generation Lexus RX (2016-present)

In 2015, Lexus released the fourth generation of the RX lineup, which was the most extensive change in its design history thus far. The 2016 model had an updated spindle grille with slimmer headlights, and “L” shaped LED signature lights increase the length of the vehicle. The RX 350 features a 3.5-liter V6 with direct injection that produces 295 hp, while the hybrid RX 450h offers a combined 308 hp. This 4th generation RX is longer, wider, and has more cargo space than previous generations.

The Lexus RX had not previously been renowned for its performance capabilities, which is why Lexus introduced the F Sport package to the fourth-generation RX. The RX F Sport versions feature better handling, adaptive suspension dampers, and more stylish design elements.

RunBidSell Insights

The Lexus RX has gone through vast transformations since its first debut in 1998. What started as a luxury crossover SUV has evolved into an advanced, capable, and efficient vehicle with formidable performance capabilities across its lineup. With the Lexus RX’s high-performance and stylish design, the luxury crossover SUV continues to be a popular choice for those looking for a reliable, sophisticated ride.


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