Five years ago, the Lexus RX 300 created the luxury crossover segment. Lexus will once again revolutionize this segment with its all-new 2004 RX 330. The second generation RX will go on sale in April and will offer luxury amenities and technology not available in other vehicles in its class. Additionally, it was announced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit that the Lexus RX will be equipped with an advanced hybrid powertrain that features outstanding power, low emissions and high fuel economy within the next two years.
Another first for the RX 330 is that it will become the first Lexus to be manufactured in North America when production begins on a new line at Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Canada, several months after initial production starts at the Kyushu plant in Japan. The hybrid version of the RX will be built in Kyushu.
The 2004 RX 330 is an integral part of the unique three-SUV strategy that has allowed Lexus to lead this category of the market. It will have an annual sales target of 75,000 units and the base price for the RX is expected to remain at about $35,000.
Several new features help the RX 330 raise the standard in the entry-luxury SUV segment. Examples include the innovative Adaptive Front lighting System (AFS), adjustable-height air suspension, adaptive cruise control, power rear liftgate, and rear backup camera.
The sleek new RX 330 has more room than the previous generation afforded by a 6.1-inch longer body and a wheelbase that is almost four inches longer. Width has also grown by 1.1 inches while height has grown by just under half an inch.
Lexus optimized interior comfort and utility in the RX 330 for five passengers. The second-row seats both slide and recline while the seatbacks feature a new 40/20/40 split design. The available power rear liftgate is controlled from the standard in-key remote entry system. An automatic-retracting tonneau cover adds a measure of security and convenience.
The RX will be one of the first U.S. vehicles with AFS. It features swiveling headlamps to help illuminate the driver's path on curves. The RX 330 also offers a unique adaptive laser cruise control system like that on the brand's LS 430 flagship sedan.
A revised V6 engine displacing 3.3 liters and producing 230 horsepower and 242 lb-ft. of torque powers the RX 330. It features a new electronic drive-by-wire throttle and continuously Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) system for excellent response. A ULEV rating is also achieved.
Teamed to a new five-speed electronic automatic transmission, the larger V6 gives the RX 330 all-wheel drive model a best-in-class zero-to-60 mph time of 7.8 seconds (vs. 8.8 for the RX 300) while providing EPA estimated fuel mileage of 18 mpg city/ 24 mpg highway (+1 mpg on each cycle over the RX 300).
Even better performance will be available when the hybrid RX version is introduced. While the strengths of current hybrid systems include low emissions and high fuel economy, this new hybrid technology adds the benefit of outstanding performance.
"The RX with Hybrid Synergy Drive has a V6 engine with the power and torque of a V8 and delivers the fuel mileage of a compact car while producing a fraction of the emissions of standard SUVs," said Toyota Motor Corporation President Fujio Cho.
The hybrid RX operates with front and rear electric motors and a front internal combustion engine. The system in the RX operates at nearly double the voltage of the current Prius and generates more power with high efficiency, dramatically cutting fuel consumption and emissions. In addition, the front and rear electric drive provides the benefits of all-wheel drive in a lighter and more compact package.
More information regarding the hybrid RX will be available closer to launch timing.
The 2004 RX 330 provides an even smoother and quieter ride than the previous RX, thanks to a stiffer body structure, a redesigned active engine mount, new sound-absorption materials and refined aerodynamic details. Noise from the powertrain, road and wind have all been reduced to nearly the same levels as in the Lexus ES 300 sedan.
The stiffer platform, newly standard 17-inch wheels and revised steering help to optimize handling response in the RX 330. Eighteen-inch wheels also are available. The optional air suspension system provides automatic leveling and four selectable height settings which allow the driver to tailor the RX 330 to specific driving conditions or needs, including an access mode to provide easier entry, exit and cargo loading. A multi-mode automatic (sequential) transmission is standard on air suspension-equipped models.
All RX 330 models come equipped with the Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) system, which helps control loss of lateral traction while cornering. VSC and the Brake Assist feature work with the standard four-wheel anti-lock brake system (ABS). A tire pressure monitor alerts the driver with a light on the instrument panel in the event of tire under-inflation.
The high-strength cabin and a comprehensive new supplemental restraint system are designed to help provide a new level of crash energy management for occupants in the RX 330.
Supplemental restraint systems (SRS) include multi-stage front airbags for the driver and passenger, side-curtain airbags, a new knee airbag for the driver and a new large side airbag in the front seats that covers the torso, abdomen and pelvis.
Available rain-sensing windshield wipers, AFS and High-Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights with washers enhance visibility in poor-weather and night driving. The RX 330 can also be ordered with the optional Lexus Link system.
Lexus craftsmanship and attention to the smallest details provide true luxury by design. Dual-zone automatic climate control and an eight-way power front driver seat with memory (four-way for the passenger seat) highlight the front cabin. The three-spoke steering wheel comes with standard, easy-to-use controls for the audio system and trip computer.
A sliding center console, adjustable light in the visor vanity mirrors and a choice of two genuine wood interior trim options are among the luxurious details that set the tone for luxury in the RX 330.
The high-performance CD audio system upholds the Lexus tradition of making premium-quality sound standard. RX customers will be able to upgrade to an optional Mark Levinson 11-speaker system with an in-dash 6-disc CD changer. A factory-installed rear DVD entertainment system is also available.
Lexus has been adding premium-level options to its entry-luxury models, and notable examples for the RX 330 include a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel with memory, a wide-opening multi-panel moonroof and a new illuminated entry system that lights the door handles, scuff plates and front foot wells.
A DVD-based Lexus Navigation System with a rear back-up camera also is optional. The rear back-up camera automatically projects a color image of what is behind the vehicle onto the navigation screen when the vehicle is in the reverse gear.
The RX 330 will be available in nine colors, six of which are all-new to the model.