Lexus recognizes a sales opportunity better than a Canadian bear recognizes a salmon run – hence the new RX270 SUV. Priced at $69,900 the first four-cylinder Lexus SUV brings the no-compromise Lexus luxury and after-sales service at a family-friendly budget.
Because families have been asking for a smaller Lexus SUV.
Already mornings and afternoons at the school near us they’ve been lining up in their Lexus RXs…the sensational value of the new 270 should see similar queues forming at Lexus dealerships.
Lexus RX270 Overview
The 270 was part of the new Lexus RX lineup launched last year. The first four-cylinder RX, it drives through the front wheels (the 350 and 450h are all-wheel-drive).
But here’s the thing: despite its ‘entry-level’ status (at $69,900 some $12,000 under the previous entry-level RX), the 270 doesn’t short-change on the Lexus technology and luxury. Amongst the inclusions are metallic paint, 18-inch alloy wheels, leather interior, satellite navigation, power rear tailgate, eight-way power seats, 12-speker audio and the VDIM (Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management) stability control system.
Lexus RX270 Engine
Code-named the 1AR-FE, the 2.7-litre four-cylinder powerplant is new to Australia. It’s the usual Lexus/Toyota design with dual variable valve timing, a die-cast aluminium block and twin contra-rotating balance shafts.
Maximum power is 138kW at 5800rpm and peak torque of 252Nm is delivered at 4200rpm.
Unlike some rivals, the Lexus RX270 has been deigned to run on 91 Octane fuel – good news appreciated by anyone who undertook a Christmas holiday road trip. Combined cycle fuel consumption is 9.7l/100kms).
Lexus RX270 and the V6-powered RX350 use different six-speed automatic transmissions but with the same ratios. In the case of the front-wheel-drive 270 it’s Toyota’s U760E transmission which doesn’t have the direct downshift control of the RX350.
Lexus RX270 The Interior
The updated Lexus RX benefits from a much-improved interior which, even in the 270, oozes style and luxury. Chief amongst the changes is a broader colour palette from which to choose.
With multiple seat adjustments and rake/reach adjustment for the handsome, three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel, you’re soon comfortable and presented with a perfect view of the usual high quality Lexus instruments.
To the left and mounted high is the full colour screen for the new HDD navigation system. SUNA traffic updates and expanded USB port usage are part of the improvements.
Centre console is the new second generation Lexus Remote Touch (a computer mouse-type configuration used to drive the navigation, audio and climate control functions). Lexus says by operating on a flat plane rather than in arcs the second generation LRT is more intuitive to use.
Rear seat accommodation is of course comfortable (and easy to access thanks to the new wider-opening rear doors) with legroom on par with the best in this league.
Lexus RX270 Exterior & Styling
As part of the updated RX lineup, the 270 features the latest Lexus ‘spindle’ front grille – a uniform shape which is being progressively rolled-out on all Lexus models. Unlike its predecessor, the latest RX features pulled-back corners for the new-design front bumper (providing a sharper/sportier look).
There’s also new-look headlights and standard DRLs while the rear scores new combination lights with the hallmark Lexus ‘L’-shaped LED tail-lights.
Lexus RX270 On The Road
The 270 is front-wheel-drive, but shares the same suspension set-up as the all-wheel-drive Lexus RX models. That means a MacPherson strut front-end with strut-mounted anti-roll bar and a new double-wishbone independent rear.
And, as we know, the latest RX range benefits from a much stiffer chassis - more reinforcement around the dashboard and 12 additional spot weld points on each side just for starters.
So, compared to the previous RX, the new model is more refined, quieter and a bit more precise in the twisty stuff.
In the front-drive RX270 that translated into a commendable performance over our high-speed mountain roads test loop with nice precision and balance. Sure, once or twice the ‘petrol heads’ amongst us would have liked a bit more punch out of corners and at the very limit, intrusion of ESC was a tad early…but the vast majority of Lexus owners will never go anywhere near those limits.
Around town, ‘school-run-parents’ in the Lexus RX270 will appreciate the good all-round visibility, nicely weighted power steering, standard reversing camera and handy 11.4-metre turning circle.
Lexus RX270 Challenges
Tipping the scales at 1950kgs, the Lexus RX270 asks a lot of its 138kW/252Nm, naturally aspirated 2.7-litre, four-cylinder engine. Not especially noticeable with just the driver on-board for the working week commute, a weekend load of family and paraphernalia stretched things.
Lexus RX270 Verdict
We’ve long sung the praises of the Lexus RX range (we actually convinced a good mate to buy one and he loved it) and there’s no doubt the 270 with a price starting with a ‘6’ opens the Lexus door to many more potential buyers. And those buyers will find the hallmark Lexus luxury and quality wherever they look…not to mention the legendary Lexus after-sales service.
Sure if high-speed twists and curves are your thing, you’ll be better advised to find some extra coin and steer towards to F Sport versions of the RX 350 and 450h with all-paw grip and more power.
But we know most luxury SUV buyers (and let’s face it school-run-parents are the majority) will find much to enjoy in the four-cylinder RX. The Car Showroom family sure did.
Lexus RX270 The Competition
Thanks to those sharp product planners at Lexus, you need to carefully check the equipment levels of any vehicle you are comparing to the RX270. Because at $69,900, the comprehensively equipped RX270 (leather, sat-nav, power tailgate etc all standard) goes head-to-head with some rivals which - when the details are studied - are comparatively sparse on the kit.
BMW’s X3 gives away a fair bit of size to the bigger Lexus RX270, but the xDrive 28i ($72,900) enjoys the 180kW/350Nm turbocharged 2.0-litre engine and eight-speed automatic transmission.
A Car Showroom favourite which gives the Lexus RX270 a run for its money in the luxury appointments/standard equipment department is the Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland ($65,000 for the V6 or $69,500 for the V8). The big American is a delight – only the five-speed automatic lags behind Lexus’ silky six-speeder.
Another Car Showroom favourite in this league is the Volvo XC60. Great to drive and boasting plenty of interior space plus standout Scandinavian design (but perhaps not as luxurious as the Lexus RX270), the entry-level XC90 is the T5 (177kW/320Nm turbocharged 2.0-litre) priced at $55,490.