It mightn't look all that different from the old model, but the new RX debuts the company's new Remote Touch infotainment control system and, should you desire, an upgraded hybrid drivetrain.
To make the new RX, Toyota seems to have taken the old one, stuck it in an oven and then slashed it with a knife or two.
We're not a huge fan of the droopy headlights, but the rear is quite nice — especially the LED tail-lights — and we're quite partial to chrome accents on the lower edge of the doors. Although it looks larger than before, it's only grown a maximum of 4cm in any direction.
The new interior doesn't hold the same aesthetic appeal as the old one, but it's more functional. The materials are nice, although we could easily do without the wood.
BMW started the ball rolling with iDrive, a small metal knob in the centre console through which you could control all of the car's functions, like air-con, audio, entertainment, sat nav and settings. Now that Audi and Mercedes have duly followed, it's time for Lexus to jump on the bandwagon. Instead of scroll wheel though, the Remote Touch controller is a flat pad that resembles a trackball.
The controller moves a cursor around the screen, sort of like a mouse, but the cursor can't wander off screen. Rather than snapping to clickable buttons, the controller will send a mild shock of feedback and provide more resistance whenever you move over a button. It actually makes zipping to the right key on the keyboard quite brisk. Now if only Lexus would bin its DVD sat nav system for a hard-drive or flash memory model.
Lexus has finally decided to more clearly delineate the air-con and audio systems. You also don't need to dive into the Remote Touch menus to change which vents are in use.
There's Bluetooth hands-free, naturally, but the voice recognition system is still limited to calling contacts, and only after you've created five second voice tags for them.
Thanks to a small projector and mirror the RX sports a heads up display featuring speed and next turn information. It worked well most of the time, but pop on a pair of sunnies or drive when there's a lot of cars about after dusk and it becomes almost impossible to see.
Somewhere under the sea of plastic is the RX350's 3.5-litre V6. It proved more than capable of hauling around nearly two tonnes of vehicle. Like many a rock and roll star it likes a drink. 16.5L/100km in the city to be exact.
We let the auto tailgate do its thing most of the time because it's on the wrong side of heavy.
Spend AU$1000 for the optional full-size spare tyre — a space saver is standard — and you'll get this hump in the boot that prevents the cargo area from being completely flat when you fold down the rear seats.
There's plenty of leg space even when sitting behind an aspiring NBA star.
There's space for some oddments underneath the centre console.
Heated and cooled seats are standard on the Sports Luxury, but on our car they resolutely refused to warm our frozen butts, insisting instead on a steady stream of cool air.
We had to consult the manual to find the 12V outlets. There's one in the boot and two underneath a false floor in the centre console bin. The RX's auxiliary jack lives here too.
We've scratched our heads before about keyless start — it's cool, but ever so slightly unnecessary. And like our time with the IS250 we managed to mash the alarm distress button instead of the boot release in the dead of the night.
Indicators in door mirrors aren't really that special any more, but ...
On the Sports Luxury there's a camera mounted to the underside to help you park like a pro and prevent nasty scuffing of your precious 19-inch alloys.
There's, of course, blue-tinted badges.
There's also blue-tinted light clusters.
And a neon blue glow to the scuff plates.
A space-saver spare tyre resides underneath the floor of the boot.
Next to the spare tyre is the car's 12V accessories' battery.
Should the hybrid's nickel-metal hydride battery get a bit warm, hot air can escape through these vents underneath the rear seats.
The tachometer is replaced by a power meter in the instrument cluster. In lieu of the regular engine chatter, there's an all too easily missed Ready light to signal that the RX450h is ready to be driven off.
With eco mode on, the accelerator becomes as unresponsive as a politician with a large electoral mandate.
At speeds above 30 or 40km/h, the petrol engine does all the work.
Most of the petrol engine's power is sent to the front wheels, but some is directed to the front electric motor which recharges the batteries.
Depending on the road situation — for example, front wheel traction is poor — the rear electric motor can be called upon to provide a bit of four-wheel drive action.
Hit the brakes and the electric motors begin to work as generators, recapturing otherwise wasted energy and storing it in the battery pack.