Thirty years of the Lexus RX: The SUV Game Changer Part 2

This is a continuation of the 30-year legacy of the Lexus RX, the game changing SUV.  After the success of the first-generation, the second generation had big shoes to fill when it premiered in 2003.

Lexus made the 2nd-generation RX even more captivating in looks and more aerodynamically savvy. The 2nd-gen Lexus RX was bigger and longer from its predecessor. The longer wheelbase gave the interior more room.

The Luxury arm of Toyota continued to utilize the V8 engine, paired to a brand new transmission. At the time, hybrid was somewhat a new platform for any car companies.  Lexus quickly jumped on it and introduced an RX 400h, which would become the first hybrid luxury model in the world. The RX 400h had a 3.3-liter V6 engine and an electric motor to churn out 378 combined hp, equivalent to a 4.0-liter V8. As a full hybrid, the RX 400h offers petrol and electric modes or a combination of both. Fuel efficiency was the key sustainability factor with the RX 400h, its fuel economy was just 8.3l/100 km.

While fuel consumption was the focus here, Lexus didn’t compromise on the important drivetrain aspect. They fitted the all-wheel drive capability for the RX 400h. This all-wheel drive uses Lexus’ new E-four system, an independent electric motor on the rear axle to give 4×4 performance. The good thing was it didn’t affect the gross weight and fuel consumption, normally associated with mechanical AWD systems.

Leading by example, the 2nd-gen RX was again a breakthrough at the time.  The RX 400h was just the start of a comprehensive hybrid program, More Lexus models would soon pick up a hybrid version. The Lexus hybrid models have sold more than 1.45 million worldwide, prior to the RX 3rd-generation’s debut.

Getting better by the generations

The two generations of the RX have spawned to two other models in Lexus’ family of crossover, including the mid-size NX, launched in 2014, and the compact UX, which arrived in 2019.  .  

With the current or third generation Lexus RX, a step up of the RX 400h became the RX 450h which carried a bold new design, inspired by the ‘Takumi’ craftsmanship further exemplifying the luxury appointments, new technologies and so on, so forth. The third-generation Lexus RX even had a seven-seat variant. With a longer body and reclined rear window, passengers on the third row had all the comfort they needed.

For the Malaysian market, the RX arrived in 2009. From 2009 until 2015, Lexus Malaysia sold over 2,300 units  of the RX alone from the first right up to the third generation.

The 3rd-gen Lexus RX carried the modern signatures on any current Lexus, including the fanous “Spindle grille”, “floating roof” and more. Lexus M’sia offered six versions of the RX: RX200t Premium, RX200t Luxury, RX200t F Sport, RX350 Luxury, RX350 F Sport and RX450h.

Engine options ranging from 2.0-liter turbocharged to 3.5-liter V6 were made available for the Lexus RX. Transmission for the top variants was an eight-speed automatic gearbox. At the time, the Lexus RX price range ran from RM 388,800 up till RM520,200.

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