The third-generation Lexus RX is only three years old, but as premium crossover competition intensifies, it's not surprising to see the automaker update the model line. The refreshed 2013 Lexus RX range made its world debut this week at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, but we already have specifications and details surrounding models destined for the North American market.
A Slightly New Look
It's a stretch to call the 2013 RX an all-new design, but the crossover does gain a mild face-lift that brings it in line with Lexus' latest design language. Much like the GS and LX, the 2013 RX gains Lexus' signature "spindle-shaped" grille, along with a chiseled front fascia and new headlamps that incorporate LED running lamps. There are also four new colors: Silver Lining Metallic, Claret Mica, Deep Sea Mica, and Fire Agate Pearl.
Revisions to the rear fascia are more subtle. The taillamp assemblies continue to use clear lenses and chrome bezels -- an RX tradition since 1998 -- but the stop-lamp section no longer looks opaque, thanks to larger reflectors and LED illumination. The rear hatch is no different than before, but a power-opening/closing function is now standard across all model lines.
The 2013 RX 350 and RX 450h models also receive a modest interior makeover. Lexus claims the steering wheel is an all-new design that's more comfortable to grip. The glove box has a new metallic accent, while the redesigned center console provides a little more storage while improving accessibility.
There's a new Ebony Bird's-Eye Maple wood trim in addition to the Espresso- and Brown-stained Maple veneers previously offered. A new saddle-colored leather trim is also available, and all RX models equipped with leather seating gain contrast stitching on the seats, center console, and door-mounted armrests.
As was the case last year, a 12-speaker audio system is standard equipment, but a premium 330-watt, 15-speaker Mark Levinson system remains an option. A hard-drive-based navigation system is available, and incorporates Lexus' Enform infotainment system, which provides connectivity to Pandora Web radio, Facebook check-ins, stock quotes, and other functions. The mouse-like "Remote Touch Interface" controller returns for 2013, but is reportedly easier to use than before.
Powertrain Remains The Same
Despite the freshened look inside and out, the 2013 RX line receives no major mechanical changes. As such, 2013 RX 350 models continue to mate a 270-hp, 3.5-liter DOHC V-6 with a six-speed automatic transmission. That power is sent to either the front wheels or through an available all-wheel-drive system that's capable of splitting torque 50/50 between the front and rear wheels.
The hybrid driveline used in the 2013 RX 450h remains unchanged: A 3.5-liter, Atkinson-cycle V-6 is paired with two electric motors through an electrically variable transmission, although all-wheel-drive models utilize a third motor to drive the rear axle. Although early reports suggested the 2013 RX 450h could receive a bump in power, Lexus says the system's net output remains unchanged at 295 hp. Drivers who desire a little more fun can use a new sport function that modifies the power steering effort, throttle mapping, and transmission shift points to deliver a quicker launch off the line and a sportier feel.
A Sportier RX, At Least In Looks.
The big news abroad is the addition of a new RX 450h F Sport model, which incorporates firmer suspension tuning, new 19-inch wheels, an aggressive lower front fascia, and a new "lateral dampening system" that braces the front suspension towers and rear subframe rails with tuned dampers.
Lexus officials confirmed this package will not be offered in North America, but a new Sport Package will be available on front-wheel-drive 2013 RX 350 models. Although it incorporates the same wild front fascia and 19-inch wheels, the two shouldn't be confused: Our Sport Package receives none of the mechanical upgrades, nor is it available on the RX 450h model.
Pricing has yet to be announced for the 2013 Lexus RX lineup, but we don't expect the automaker to drastically alter the present asking prices. Expect a front-wheel-drive 2013 RX 350 to start around $40,000, with all-wheel drive models commanding an extra $1400. Front-wheel drive 2013 RX 450h models should sticker around $46,000, while all-wheel-drive models could ring in at close to $48,000.