Lexus RX L features genuinely useful technologies

Lexus RX L
Lexus spruces up the RX SUV with RX L, an amalgamation of the marque’s investment in hybrid technology and flexible, comfortable interior design
(Image credit: Lexus)

Lexus has quietly been doing a great job developing the technologies that’ll make tomorrow’s premium motoring less of a burden on us all, with quiet, efficient hybrid powertrains to take the sting out of large, luxury vehicles. In many respects, the newer, larger version of its RX SUV, the RX L, is the perfect car, for it represents the apotheosis of hybrid technology spliced with a flexible interior that can seat up to seven in impressively comfortable surroundings.

Lexus, and parent company Toyota, famously invest in R&D and an attention to design and engineering detail that just can’t be matched. The original Lexus models were slavish re-interpretations of the era’s very best motor cars, right down to the sound of the doors shutting, and those happened to be large, luxury saloons from Germany. The end result was a slightly passionless perfectionism that was hard to criticise but also difficult to love.

Lexus RX L cabin

(Image credit: Lexus)

Today, Lexus has the history and heritage, exactly 30 years after its first model, the LS, was introduced. As the company has grown up, so has its approach to design. Lexus argues that its models demonstrate a spirited application of ancient Japanese design principles. We say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the RX, like several of its smaller siblings, is a challenging, provocative-looking beast.

It’s hard to ignore aesthetics, but for all its tech brilliance, easy drivability and practicality, the RX seems to have swerved down what looks increasingly like a cul-de-sac of car culture. Electric is where it’s at, and the bold conceptual designs of its rivals are reshaping what a car needs to look like. The RX looks ungainly and out of time, a quirk of evolution. This is all the more ironic when you consider the RX model’s history; for 20 years it has been a pioneering luxury SUV, paving the way for many, many imitators.

Lexus RX L reverse

(Image credit: Lexus)

Although the company has been a hybrid pioneer for decades, the long-term electric strategy of Toyota/Lexus is rather hard to pin down. The RX L reaps the benefits of seamlessly integrated hybrid technology, gliding silently around the city when needed, or surging forward with some electrically assisted boost when required. The petrol V6 is smooth and near silent in any case and total power output is more than sufficient. It’s not an especially dynamic car, but that’s not its role in life; a Lexus exists to improve life through technology that actually works, with an emphasis on long-term reliability. It's hard not to wonder what an all-electric Lexus would be like.

Inside, the cabin is defined by high quality materials and idiosyncratic details like the quasi-mouse operated infotainment screen. It's quite unlike anything offered by rivals and is easy enough to use, giving the company another quirky point of difference. The RX is positively brimming with technology but it's not a car for the technophile. Instead, it ploughs a furrow of quiet excellence, aimed at those who want their future mobility untroubled by overt complexity.

Lexus RX L side view

(Image credit: Lexus)

Lexus RX L bonnet

(Image credit: Lexus)

Lexus RX L, £61,995 as tested. For more information, visit the Lexus website

Jonathan Bell has written for Wallpaper* magazine since 1999, covering everything from architecture and transport design to books, tech and graphic design. He is now the magazine’s Transport and Technology Editor. Jonathan has written and edited 15 books, including Concept Car Design, 21st Century House, and The New Modern House. He is also the host of Wallpaper’s first podcast.