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New Lexus RX has sharply-chiseled look across front and sides. Crossover was introduced by Lexus executives at 2015 New York Auto Show.

Lexus sharpens best-selling RX for 2016

The Lexus RX luxury crossover has been the make's best seller, accounting for 25-30% of sales, and the 2016 model introduced at the 2015 New York Auto Show displays a new styling treatment that features crisp lines for a chiseled look. There's now an F-Sport model for both the all-wheel-drive and hybrid models; the F-Sport previously had been available only for the non-hybrid. The crossovers go on sale at the end of the year.

The new edition, a fourth generation in the mid-size vehicle's 17-year history, is 4.7 in (119 mm) longer at 192.5 in (4890 mm) overall, on a 2.0 in (51 mm) longer 109.8-in (2789-mm) wheelbase. The C-pillars are partially blacked out for the appearance of a "floating" roofline.

The 3.5-L direct-injected V6 has been reworked to increase performance to 300 hp (224 kW) from the previous 270 hp (201 kW), and continues to be bolted to the eight-speed automatic transmission. The RX 450h hybrid has an Atkinson-cycle version of the 3.5-L V6, rated at 245 hp (183 kW), but with the electric motor, total output will be rated at almost 300 hp (224 kW). Both engines will operate on regular gasoline, and Lexus is promising improved fuel economy for the gas-engine-only model.

Safety systems pricing

Toyota announced an aggressive pricing strategy for its safety systems packages, with the one for Lexus to list for under $650.

Lexus Safety System-plus (LSS+) consists of a pre-collision system that uses millimeter-wave radar and a camera to identify pedestrians as well as vehicles and activate a brake assist system. If the driver doesn't respond to warnings by hitting the brakes, automatic emergency braking is initiated.

It operates at speeds of 7-50 mph (11-80 km/h) with the pedestrian detection strategy and can reduce vehicle speed by about 19 mph (31 km/h). The reduction, based on testing vs. a vehicle going at 19 mph and a stationary vehicle/pedestrian, obviously is subject to such variables as road/weather. The vehicle detection comes into play at any road speed from 7 mph and above, and reduces road speed by about 25 mph (40 km/h).

In addition, LSS+ incorporates lane-departure alert and, using the front camera of a four-camera 360-degree viewing group, provides automatic high beam control. Furthermore, using the front camera and radar, the RX provides adaptive cruise control.

The control stack incorporates Lexus' 12.3-in screen that, in addition to navigation, comfort features, and infotainment, can display a 360-degree view around the vehicle. The interior features a TFT (thin film transistor) multi-information instrument cluster display.

LED taillamps wrap around the sides at the rear, and LEDs also take over front lighting. Fog and daytime running lights are LED, and triple-L-shaped LEDs are available for headlamps.

A proximity sensor is built into the tailgate. With the remote key in the motorist's possession, swiping a hand close to the tailgate's Lexus emblem and pausing briefly will unlock the tailgate and allow it to open.

Michelin tires wear pattern

The RX will be using Michelin's new Premier tires for 18- and 20-in wheels. The tires have a high-traction rubber that as the tread wears is engineered to expose hidden rain grooves and then cause them to expand. So the wet grip and overall tire safety are maintained throughout much of the tread life. As a styling touch, body-color-coded inserts are available for the wheels. The F Sport has a specific trim package including unique grille, 20-in alloy wheels with a graphite finish, and black side mirrors.

An active anti-sway system, which produces flatter cornering, is borrowed from Lexus' GS and some hybrids. The system incorporates sensors signaling an electronic control unit to operate motors working through reduction gears to torque the anti-sway bars to minimize body roll. The system is enabled by a center console control knob with Eco, Normal, Sport, and Sport S+ positions.

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