The Lexus RX’s interior looks absolutely lovely and feels like it’ll last for decades, the only problem is the clunky infotainment system that’ll make you want to pull your hair out
If you have bought Audi, BMW and Mercedes cars in the past, then the Lexus RX’s asymmetrical dashboard design will make for a refreshing change.
Quality is just as good – if not better – than you get in other cars of this price. The centre console is made from a slab of cold metal that doesn’t feel like a tinfoil veneer, and leather is used pretty much everywhere else (on all but entry-level models) – as well as on the seats, it covers large portions of the dashboard and the doors.
Depending on which version you pick, you get pretty wood veneer (created by Yamaha’s piano division) around the gear shifter, or a curved piece of aluminium.
It feels well-built even when you look beyond the fancy trim pieces. For example, the glovebox glides open smoothly, the buttons on the dashboard feel like they’ll work with the same oily smoothness in 10 years’ time and the gaps between trim pieces are tight and consistent. It’s a refreshing change to the flimsy buttons and wavy leather stitching you’ll find in a Range Rover.
Entry-level S models of the RX get the same build quality as more expensive models, but they’re worth avoiding because they have fabric seats and glossy plastic inlays that don’t look right in a luxurious SUV like this.
By contrast, mid-range SE and Luxury RX models feel posh. They get leather seats that are hand stitched and a leather-stitched dashboard with aluminium trim pieces that brighten up the interior. F Sport models come with ‘F Sport’ embossed front seats, an F Sport branded gear shifter, sporty aluminium pedals and cocktail-bar style mood lighting.
But luxurious Premier models show the RX in its best light. They get a wood-trimmed steering wheel that’s nice to hold, a beautiful curved veneer around the gear selector and semi-aniline leather upholstery that’s soft but also hardwearing.
The RX feels inside like a generation ahead of the GLE and X5
Although the Lexus’ interior looks about as luxurious as you could hope for, it’s not without its faults and most of these centre around it’s subpar infotainment systems.
S model come with an eight-inch infotainment display that’s smaller than you’d expect in a car this price, and it also has dated looking graphics. Luxury models and above get a 12.3-inch display that’s the right size, but suffers from the same low-resolution display.
The graphics are the least of your worries, though, because both systems are controlled using a fiddly joystick located between the front seats. It lacks the accuracy of the touchpad and scroll-wheel controls you’ll find in BMWs and Audis, which makes it very tricky to hit the correct buttons on the screen, navigate through menus or enter postcodes as you drive along.
Luckily, the Lexus finds itself on much firmer ground when you start to explore the attributes of the stereo that, even in standard guise, has the power and clarity to match the mid-range options in BMWs and Audis.
But if you want your RX to resemble a mobile opera house then choose a Premier model. They get a 15-speaker Mark Levinson unit that delivers more punch comparable to your favourite tenor giving a one-on-one performance centimeters from your face.