DubiCars Car Spotlight — Lexus RX: All You Need To Know About The Lexus RX & Its History

If you love products with small beginnings that grow into a massive success story, the Lexus RX and its story should be right up your alley. It was the very first Crossover SUV sold under the Lexus marque and its first generation was based on the Toyota Harrier which is not a very popular product to begin with.

However, over the years, the Lexus RX has become the best-selling model for the Japanese luxury brand. It was in 1998 that the Lexus RX was first launched and in under 25 years, over 3.5 million units of the RX were sold worldwide. In this edition of the DubiCars Car Spotlight, we take a closer look at the Lexus RX.

Lexus RX History — Models Over The Years

Origins Of Lexus’ First Crossover SUV

Great ideas are often discussed over a meal and so was the case with the Lexus RX. The idea of a crossover between a luxury sedan and an SUV first came up in 1993 during a luncheon for Toyota Motor Executives. In  1994, the conversation was looked at with more seriousness and the designing process began.

In 1995, the final design was ready and prototypes were produced in 1996 for testing. Before it went on sale to the public, Lexus displayed a concept at the Chicago Auto Show in 1997. The concept was called SLV (Sport Luxury Vehicle). However, it was later renamed the RX before its launch in 1998. RX stands for Radiant Crossover or Recreational Cross Country.

First Generation | 1998 – 2003

A lesser-known fact is that the Lexus RX was initially a rebadged version of the Toyota Harrier. The Toyota Harrier was launched in 1997 in the Japanese domestic market. However, the brand wanted to give it a premium image before it went on sale in export markets, and hence, more features were added along with the Lexus and RX badging.

Based on the same manufacturing platform as the Lexus ES, the first generation was available with multiple petrol engine options including a 2.4-litre inline-4, 3.0-litre V6, 3.3-litre V6, and 3.5-litre V6. It was also one of the pioneers in the world of hybrids as it also came with a .3-litre V6 hybrid engine option.

Second Generation | 2003 – 2008

Just as with the first generation, the second generation of the Lexus RX was also a rebadged version of the second-generation Toyota Harrier. It was with this generation that the RX took its most familiar design and styling avatar. In 2003, the Lexus RX became the first Lexus model to be assembled outside Japan, as the Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada plant in Ontario began producing the crossover.

It came with an array of features including eight airbags, adaptive lighting system, Mark Levinson premium sound system, and even a DVD player. It was the first car in the world to feature a radar-assisted pre-collision system. Engine & powertrain options from the first generation were retained.

Third Generation | 2008 – 2015

The Lexus RX had always been a modern, feature-packed, and practical crossover since the very beginning. However, when the third generation came out, it turned into a proper tech-fest. It had top-tier features and the very best in terms of safety. It was available in all-wheel-drive and rear-wheel-drive configurations while the older engines were done away with. 

Newer, more powerful options were available — Toyota’s famed 2.7-litre inline-4 unit, as well as the 3.5-litre V6, were the petrol options. Those opting for the hybrid variant got the hybridised version of the same 3.5-litre V6 engine. For the first time, an 8-speed automatic gearbox was offered, however, this was only available with the high-performance F-Sport variant.

Fourth Generation | 2015 – 2022

This is where the Lexus RX became the most stylish SUV in its segment. The sharp design lines and the signature spindle grille became its defining characteristics and the Lexus RX became the global favourite for its comfort-oriented performance. The features list grew to lengths never seen before and so did its power output.

For the very first time, a turbocharged engine was on offer — a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol inline-4. Even the 3.5-litre V6 was updated in order to produce more power. The most powerful variant – RX 450h – produced 308hp. Adaptive Variable Suspension was added to the SUV to adjust ride quality as needed. 

Fifth Generation | 2022 – Present

In May 2022, Lexus launched the current-gen RX. This generation is based on the Toyota GA-K manufacturing platform which also underpins 20 other Toyota products and 4 other Lexus cars — Lexus ES, Lexus LM, Lexus NX, and Lexus TX. As a result of the GA-K integration, the current-gen Lexus RX weighs 80 kilograms less than the previous generation.

Current-Gen Lexus RX Features:

  • LED Blade tail lamp
  • Driver-focused cockpit
  • Leather steering wheel
  • Aluminium pedals
  • Mark Levinson sound system with 21 speakers
  • Dynamic Radar Cruiser Control System
  • Auto Park Assist
  • 14-inch Touchscreen Infotainment

This is the first generation of the Lexus RX without a V6 petrol engine. It has been replaced by more powerful versions of the 2.4-litre inline-4 turbo-petrol engine. A new, top-of-the-line variant called the RX 500h has been introduced with a 2.4-litre turbo-petrol hybrid powertrain setup. The RX 500h puts out 366hp and 460Nm.

Most Popular Lexus RX Generations In The UAE

In the UAE, when it comes to practical, reliable, and durable crossover SUVs with a hybrid engine, the Lexus RX is one of the first cars that comes to mind. It started to gain popularity from the third generation onwards, however not that many third-gen models are found these days. However, loads of fourth and fifth-generation models are found on UAE roads.

If you liked this blog on the history of the Lexus RX, you might also like the Lexus LX DubiCars Car Spotlight

Find new Lexus RX SUVs for sale in the UAE and used Lexus RX SUVs for sale in the UAE.

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