NYIAS 2015: Lexus Goes Gutsy with 2016 RX

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Lexus took a bold step with its RX SUV today at NYIAS 2015. The automaker could’ve played it safe and kept the vehicle more or less as it was — a money-printing machine. But, the decision was made to update its look to keep it in line with the company’s new, sportier identity.

It might come as a surprise, but the Lexus RX – in its multiple guises — is one of the best selling luxury vehicles in the world and the top selling Lexus with more than 2.1 million units sold. So, messing with it means potentially plucking the golden goose. So, when Lexus unveiled the new design today, it was a bit of a gamble changing its aesthetics.

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As an eyewitness, I can say the surgery was a success. Lexus went with an all-new sheet metal construction to smooth out the angles, and the new face employs the now familiar Lexus grille. From a distance, the vehicle looks a little lower and a little flatter — cheating more toward the crossover end of the SUV spectrum. The end result is a sleeker, cooler, more aggressive vibe for an SUV that could’ve veered toward safe and boxy.

Under the hood, Lexus keeps the RX in keeping with the rest of its line by offering a more powerful titular 3.5 liter V6 in the RX 350 that offers 300 horsepower. There will also be the AWD F Sport model with an enhanced tuning kit and special badging. The 450h hybrid edition will also back an upgraded powertrain with an Atkinson-cycle 3.5-liter V6 – also producing that 300 horsepower number.

Precise release dates and pricing is still incoming, but the news is set in stone that Lexus took a risk with their bestseller and nailed the outcome.