The new RX 450h receives the new Lexus face, new interior, new safety and an F-Sport Hybrid variant. Wayne Gerdes – CleanMPG – Oct. 31, 2015 All-new 4th gen 2016 Lexus RX 450h hybrid FWD - $52,235 to start (AWD at $53,635 and F-Sport AWD at $57,045) with EPA ratings of 31/30/30 and 30/28/29 mpgUS city/highway/combined respectively. In 1998, Lexus created a segment that to this day has been copied but never really matched. That being the Luxury Crossover. Since that time, numerous OEMs have entered the fray and all fall a wee bit short of what the RX has always offered. That being sleek style, Lexus’ bulletproof reliability, a superior dealership experience and with the advent of the hybrid for the 2006 model year, an efficient larger automobile to move you and your family from point A to point B without being angered at the pump quite nearly as often... In case some may speculate that the new Lexus Spindle Grille has, is or will harm sales, consider the U.S. Premium Segments last 3 years of results. The Lexus moniker is doing just as well or better than its European, Domestics and Asian counterparts. 2016 RX’s Exterior Design The new RX hood has center creases within a sunken dome while sharper raised feature lines along the edge run front the outside A-pillars to the top of the new grille. A complex set of raised curves begins at the top of the front lens working its way into a minor top profile character line. The grille is Lexus’ latest iteration of the large black widow spindle grille surrounded by a thin chrome trim and triple L-shape-LED headlamps. A Nike swoop shaped LED DRL with 18 individual LEDs act as turn signal indicators. Fog lamps are set in triangular cutouts. A compact Bi-LED headlight is standard. Also, Intelligent High Beam (IHB) are available. Moving into the profile, aero tabbed front corners clean up aero while a minor lower character line begins in front of the fender flares, disappears into them and reappears as a bolder character line rising towards the rear through the front smart access proximity handle(s). This line mates with the minor downward sloping hoods feature line in the rear door, rises above the rear handle and ends above the rear LED taillamp lenses. From above, a panoramic roof adds openness to the interior and really sharp looking chrome roof rail engine in a short overhang rear spoiler defines the roof line. A chrome Day Light Opening (DLO) and a unique shaped blacked-out lower C-pillar define the upper profile. It is not the 15 Camry C-Pillar plastic add-on treatment as that just thins out the C-pillar but more along the lines of Nissan’s new Maxima rear treatment with the chrome DLO trim flowing back into the steeply raked rear window. Below is another sculpted cutout with lower cladding surrounding the entire CUVs lower edges and fenders. Out back, after the steeply rakes rear windscreen, a very vertical face with small centered Lexus badge and a chrome strip below tying the two rear lamps together. Beneath is a silver colored hard plastic cladding - vs. black around the fronts and sides – with a piano black like lower inlay. Overall, the Cd of 0.34 has unfortunately increased – probably due to those new roof rails – vs. the 2015s Cd of 0.33. 2016 RX’s Interior Design The interior is standard Lexus luxury from to bottom and side to side. Available interior trim inlay decor includes Matte Bamboo, Espresso Walnut, Matte Linear Dark Mocha Wood, Striated Black Trim or Gray Sapele Wood with Aluminum adding to the stoic design. For the black trim, glossy black is used for the base, and a three-dimensional embossed pattern is then applied to create a high-quality sense of depth. The RXs real claim to fame however is its huge passenger volume. As in 139.7 cu. ft. of total volume. I believe there are some typos in the spec sheets as the 16s rear cargo volume is listed at just 18.0 cu. ft. and I know the 15 was much larger than this with a listed 40 cu. ft., both with the seats up. With the seats down, the 16 is listed at 55.9 cu. ft. vs. the 15s 80 cu. ft. of cargo volume. Ten this out on Monday or Tuesday as well. Seats up. Seats down. New for this model year is the available Touch-Free Power Rear Door which allows users to open the rear hatch by placing a hand near the Lexus emblem. If only they used the Hyundai system where you just stand there. Based upon the concept of Lexus’ Human Machine Interface (HMI), an available Heads-Up Display (HUD) helps the driver to keep eyes on the road. The redesigned instrument cluster offers the driver instantaneous information with a quick glance at its large and easy-to-read gauge faces. I will supply more when I get inside it early next week. 2016 RX’s 450h Drivetrain With this iteration of the RX 450h arrives with a completely reengineered direct injected 3.5L V6 mated to the Toyota HSD/Lexus Hybrid drive system. It now produces a combined output of 308 hp and 247 lb.-ft. of torque. This is up 13 hp from the 295 hp output of last year’s design thanks in part to the new intake ports and combustion chambers. The Lexus hybrid-powered drivetrain in most advanced iteration ever offered. A new Power Control Unit (PCU) and HV Engine Control Unit (ECU) improves efficiency, a lighter and more efficient electric hybrid system coolant pump, changes to the hybrid battery results in a more compact design to save space and lower weight. Also, the control functions of the E-Four rear drive electric motor (AWD models) have been enhanced for better response when accelerating during turns. A new transmission oil cooler for motor cooling and a pre-loaded differential for performance and enhanced control was added. The rear transaxle (for models equipped with AWD) features a new three-shaft configuration and aluminum case and cover to reduce weight. An added feature on the new RX, for both hybrid and gas models, is that the torque distribution levels at the front and rear of the vehicle, as well as to each individual wheel, are displayed on the Multi-Information Display (MID) when the system is in operation. Regarding AWD, the Lexus E-Four system is integrated into the RX 450h hybrid allowing reduced energy and fuel consumption by limiting the use of the AWD mode only when necessary and allowing the rear electric motor to act as a generator to charge the battery when the vehicle is in regenerative brake mode. Thanks to these upgrades, the Lexus Hybrid Drive system is supposed to provide excellent driving performance, efficiency and typical Lexus low NVH. On an efficiency and performance front, mixed messages are being sent. 2015 RX 450h FWD/AWD: 7.8/7.4 seconds to 60 mph and a 32/28/30 // 30/28/29 mpgUS city/highway/combined ratings. 2016 RX450h FWD/AWD: 7.7/7.9 seconds to 60 mph and a 31/30/30 // 30/28/29 mpgUS city/highway/combined ratings. 2016 RX’s 450h Chassis The new RX utilizes basically the same underbody platform of its predecessor but with new front engine mounts to the sub-frame structure. The side engine mounts have been relocated to enhance the vehicle’s lateral responsiveness which provides better steering feel and cornering reaction of the chassis. A front-strut and double-wishbone suspension outback received major improvements to provide better steering response and ride comfort. The stiffness of the springs and sway bars were changed providing less body roll and pitching. With increased rigidity of the front axle, hub bearings, retuned bushings, steering feedback from the tires to the driver’s hands has been significantly enhanced. The grip level and traction of the tires were also changed, helping the RX to respond crisply during turn-in and enhance its overall agility. At the rear suspension, the rigidity of the bushings was modified to help reduce understeer and allow the RX to be agile without sacrificing control. The new RX 450h brake actuator was modified to help enhance the transition of the braking force. To match the changes made to the suspension, the steering system was modified for precision and responsiveness. The shaft stiffness between the column and rack gear was increased for better feedback of road information through the steering wheel. The newest EPS management system was adopted for wider control range of initial steer, return-steer and cornering in accordance to variable speed ranges and reactive force. Without changing the outer diameter of the steering wheel, the grip diameter and geometry were finely tuned to enhancing handling characteristics for everyday use. The driver’s seating position was lowered; the steering wheel was moved closer and made more vertical to accommodate long distance commuting. The adjustable range of the electronic steering tilt and telescopic steering column was expanded to allow tall drivers to sit in a comfortable driving position. Thank you Lexus. The RX’s platform includes increased panel joint strength through the use of high-tech body adhesives and laser screw welding. A large percentage of high-tensile strength steels are used throughout including underbody cross members and front (A-pillar) and middle (B-pillar) sections. A new process metal framing process called “annular frame construction” strengthens the frame within the vehicle around the front and rear doors. The redesigned body frame sections and additional spot welds around the rear portion of the vehicle improves both strength and rigidity. These design updates improve occupant protection, handling and lower NVH. 2016 RX’s 450h Drive Modes The Drive Modes allows the driver to choose between distinct drive that can regulate the damping force of the suspension system, adjust engine output, re-map the throttle and modify other parameters of the engine and chassis. “ECO” mode moderates engine power output, throttle response and the climate control system for increased fuel efficiency “NORMAL” provides an even balance between engine performance and fuel economy “SPORT” provides enhanced throttle response and enhanced acceleration while sharpening the feel of the EPS system. “SPORT S” (available with vehicles equipped with the Adaptive Variable Suspension system) offers even a higher level of performance with aggressive throttle mapping, quicker drivetrain response. “SPORT S+” combines the powertrain enhancements of the “SPORT S” mode while sharpening the feel of the EPS system and a stiffer suspension setting for flatter cornering “CUSTOMIZE” offered for the first time by Lexus, enables the driver to individually choose the powertrain and chassis mode for F SPORT models. 2016 RX’s 450h Safety A number of optional advanced driving aids and safety technologies are available on the new RX: Dynamic Radar Cruise Control Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist Vehicle Sway Warning Intuitive Parking Assist Panoramic View Monitor Intelligent High-beam System Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert Adaptive Variable Suspension Front, side, side curtains and driver’s knee airbag, TPMS with available tire inflation display function, active front headrests are featured. Braking and traction control systems discs all around, VSC, ABS, EBD, BA, TC, and Hill-start Assist (HAS) are also included. Additionally, Smart Stop Technology automatically reduces engine power when there is simultaneous application of the brake pedal and accelerator pedal under certain conditions. An available Lexus Safety System + helps mitigate collisions across a wide range of vehicle speeds. It includes a Pre-Collision System (PCS) with Pedestrian Detection that detects sudden stops initiated by the vehicle in front, warning drivers of potential contact with obstacles ahead; Lane Departure Alert (LDA) with Steering Assist; Intelligent High Beam (IHB) that helps ensure optimal forward visibility during nighttime driving; and All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. The Pre-Collision System warns the driver via an audible warning as well as a visual alert through the Multi-Information Display (MID) when it detects an imminent collision, and automatically applies the brakes to reduce impact force or avoid the collision altogether. The Pre-Collision Brake Assist detects an imminent collision and increases the brake force when the driver depresses the brake pedal. The amount of additional brake pressure provided when the driver depresses the brake pedal is increased in stages according to the level of possibility of a collision. Auto Brake helps provide the driver additional assistance. If an obstruction is detected by the sensors, and the system judges that there is a possibility of collision, a pre-brake warning illuminates the brake lights to notify the following vehicle that the driver’s vehicle will decelerate. If the probability of collision increases and the driver does not apply the brakes or steering input, the pre-collision brake is activated, helping to avoid the collision or reduce collision damage. If the collision is avoided, and the vehicle has stopped, the brake force is maintained for a maximum of two seconds until the driver operates the accelerator or brake pedal. All the above were designed to or added to maintain or improve both the NHTSA and IIHS Crash Test ratings. The 2015 MY RX 450h already achieves a 5-star rating with AWD and an unfortunate 4-stars with FWD. On the IIHS, the 2015 MY RX achieved what appears to be a perfect rating across the board other than LATCH with a Moderate rating. 2016 RX’s 450h Infotainment The standard audio system includes an 8” display, HD Radio, Bluetooth audio, voice recognition microphone, micro SD card slot, an AUX mini jack, two USB ports and nine speakers, with frequently used switches placed closest to the driver. The available 12-speaker Pioneer audio system includes 7.9” subwoofers and newly-developed 7.1” woofers in the front doors. The high end 15-speaker Mark Levinson Premium Surround System and Green Edge high-efficiency conversion technology is also available. I never had any issues with Lexus base through Levinson sound systems but they are no match for the European systems. Optional NAVI can be viewed through a hi-def 8” or optional hi-def 12.3” displays. I really do like the Lexus side by side 12.3” display in particular. The new computer mouse-like Remote Touch Interface is hit or miss. Gen 1 was terrible. Gen 2 was excellent. Gen 3 was just ok. We will have to see what is offered in the RX on Monday/Tuesday. 2016 RX’s 450h Early Conclusions Along with the std. quiet and controlled comfort, latest high end amenities and surrounds, the new 2016 RX 450h could be the first 300+ hp automobile to best 40 mpg. I thought it might be the all-new 16 Maxima but I bet the 16 RX 450h does it first. We will have to see.