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1999 Lexus RX 300 Challenges Conventional Ideas About Sport Utility Vehicles

13 March 1998

1999 Lexus RX 300 Challenges Conventional Ideas About Sport Utility Vehicles

    DETROIT, March 12 -- The 1999 Lexus RX 300, introduced to the
automotive media here today, goes beyond the conventional limits of existing
sport utility vehicles (SUVs) on the market.  It incorporates the most
desirable aspects of luxury sedans and 4x4s into a new-breed of SUVs.
    The Lexus RX 300, priced at $31,500 for a two-wheel-drive version and
$32,950 for the four-wheel-drive model, goes on sale March 20.
    RX 300 standard features include: automatic climate control, side-impact
airbags for the front seats, genuine walnut trim, premium audio, 5-1/2 inch
liquid crystal multi-display screen for ventilation/audio/trip
computer/outside temperature displays, keyless remote entry, microchip
transponder engine immobilizer anti-theft system, vibration-canceling fully
active engine mounts, automatic dawn/dusk headlight activation and auto
up/down power windows.
    With optional leather seating, in-dash six-CD autochanger, power tilt and
slide moonroof, memory power front seats, micron interior air filtration,
automatic dimming inside and heated outside mirrors and Homelink-compatible
programmable garage-door opener, the typical RX 300 4x4 will list for $36,860
-- offering a better comparably-equipped value than its chief competitors.
    "The RX is a new breed of luxury SUV," said Lexus Senior Vice President
and General Manager Jim Press.  "It's just right for anybody who finds
traditional SUVs too cumbersome, inefficient and rough riding."

    A New Breed of SUV
    The RX 300 provides off-road ground clearance and available full-time
four-wheel-drive for poor weather and road conditions, yet step-in height is
lower than other SUVs for more convenient entry and exit.  Its roomy and
versatile interior accommodates five people and cargo in a variety of
configurations.  At the same time, its driving comfort, maneuverability and
on-road performance will please owners of luxury sedans.
    The RX 300 will satisfy the changing tastes of today's luxury vehicle
buyers who want the style, versatility, commanding visibility and poor-weather
traction of an all-wheel-drive SUV, but did not consider one because on-road
performance, ride comfort, fuel economy or ease of entry/exit did not meet
their expectations.
    Thanks to an exceptionally rapid design process, Lexus planners and
engineers were able to respond to the latest trends in SUV customer
preferences.  As a result, the RX 300 signals the direction for SUVs of the
    "Luxury means more than adding leather to a truck," Press said.  "Because
it's not built on a truck-based chassis, the RX 300 is the first true car-like
luxury SUV.  This newest Lexus offers an ideal combination of performance,
luxury, roomy utility and four-wheel-drive traction, designed for the way
sport utilities are used every day.  Owners will appreciate its distinctive
personality and Lexus quality and satisfaction."
    The RX 300 is a completely new model and its basic floorpan and platform
were specially developed and are not shared with other Lexus or Toyota
    In size, the RX 300 is slightly longer and wider than a Jeep Grand
Cherokee.  Combined front- and second-seat leg room is more than Grand
Cherokee, Infiniti QX4 or Range Rover Discovery.  Overall height and floor
height are lower than the Mercedes M-Class or Infiniti QX4 for easy entry and
exit, yet the RX 300 has a generous ground clearance of 7.7 inches.
RX 300 Chief Engineer Tsuneo Uchimoto calls his creation "... a new breed of
SUV.  The RX 300's unique advantages will appeal to those for whom traditional
SUVs are too cumbersome to drive, station wagons too old-fashioned and
minivans too family-oriented."

    Rugged Look with Urban Sophistication
    The RX 300 features individual round headlamp reflectors housed under
aerodynamic clear covers, with projector-beam foglamps just below.  The
dramatic tail lamp housings each contain four separate round lenses, grouped
to complement the headlamp theme.
    Overall height, width, wheelbase and track width give the RX a just-right
size and stance.  The sleek shape produces an aerodynamic coefficient of drag
of just 0.36, the lowest of any sport utility vehicle and in the same league
as many sporty cars and sedans.
    Very careful attention to packaging and body structure design offers
ground clearance and approach and departure angles that are competitive with
other SUVs, yet step-in and seat cushion height are much more comfortable and
convenient.  The RX 300 maintains an ideal balance of height, making it easy
to step aboard.

    Variable Valve Timing a First in an SUV
    The RX 300 is powered by the most sophisticated and refined engine under
the hood of an SUV.  The 3.0-liter, all-aluminum V6 employs four cams and 24
valves to produce 220 horsepower and 222 pound-feet of torque.  Thanks to
Lexus continuously variable valve timing, a three-stage variable intake system
and a two-way bypass exhaust system, this newest Lexus engine generates
healthy low-end torque for more pulling power and standing-start response.
Eighty percent of peak torque is available as low as 1,600 rpm.  The RX 300
employs the first use of variable valve timing in a sport utility vehicle.
    Introduced on the high-performance GS 300 and 400 sedans, the Lexus VVT-i
(Variable Valve Timing, intelligent) system optimizes valve overlap throughout
the engine's rpm range and in all operating conditions.  VVT-i eliminates the
traditional compromises between low-end torque and high-rpm horsepower.  At
the same time it enhances fuel economy and reduces emissions so effectively
that it eliminates the need for such emissions devices as exhaust gas
    The RX 300's variable intake system tunes manifold lengths according to
engine speed to enhance torque and horsepower.  Located within the muffler,
the exhaust bypass provides optimum back pressure for low end torque and quiet
operation, yet opens to create a free-flow muffler at high rpm for more

    EPA: 19 City/22 and 24 Highway
    Four-wheel-drive estimated fuel economy ratings of 19 city and 22 highway,
and front-drive figures of 19 and 24 stand out among SUVs and are more
normally associated with mid-size sedans.  The RX 300's powerplant meets the
California Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) standard and the On-Board Refueling
Vapor Recovery (ORVR) regulations proposed for all 50 states.
    To assure the smoothest operation, a new active engine mount cancels idle
vibration and is controlled directly by each combustion stroke of the engine.
A solenoid-controlled diaphragm creates pulses which are equal but opposite to
the engine's movements to counteract vibrations.  The fully active engine
mount is a first in the industry.

    Efficient Full-Time Four-Wheel Drive
    The technologically advanced RX 300 powerplant is linked to an equally
sophisticated drive train that provides poor-weather and off-road traction
without unnecessary weight and power-robbing inefficiency.  Its heart is a
completely new four-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission
with integrated transfer case and viscous limited-slip center differential
coupling.  Its unusually small size and efficiency help the RX provide
excellent on-road driving performance.
    The RX 300 is available with two different drivelines: full-time four-
wheel drive and sure-footed front-wheel drive for customers in milder climates
who want the utility of an SUV with even better performance and fuel economy.
    The RX four-wheel-drive system requires no activation by the driver and
splits engine torque 50/50 to front and rear axles.  The viscous center
differential coupling directs torque to the wheels with most traction whenever
slippage occurs.  An optional torque-sensing, limited-slip rear differential
further prevents loss of traction between left and right wheels.  The RX 300
four-wheel-drive system does not depend on the vehicle's braking system and is
fully compatible with the use of ABS in all driving conditions.

    A New Level of Safety in its Class
    In addition to its responsive on-road performance, the RX 300 has been
designed with consideration of the most severe crash-test requirements of the
major international regulatory agencies.
    These tests include front and rear impact, offset frontal impact and side
impact collisions.  Side doors are equipped with tubular steel impact beams.
Although not yet required by law, the upper interior pillars and roof sides
employ hidden ribbed energy-absorbing material to help reduce head injuries in
an accident.
    The RX 300 is equipped with driver- and front-passenger airbags.  Seat-
mounted side-impact activated airbags are provided for front-seat occupants as
are shoulder belts with pretensioners and force limiters.  The force-limiting
device eases belt loads on an occupant's torso during an accident.
    Other safety features include four-wheel anti-lock brakes, daytime running
lights, projector-beam fog lights, and optional electrochromic inside and
outside rear view mirrors, which dim only when necessary to retain maximum
night-time vision.  Safety and security are in every detail of the RX,
including power windows and moonroof with pinch protection sensors for the
auto open and close functions.  A new four-link wiper mechanism sweeps
89 percent of the windshield area for maximum visibility.  Headlights switch
on and off automatically at dusk or dawn, or when entering dimly lighted

    Innovative Interior Design
    Versatility is perhaps the number-one reason SUV owners chose their
vehicles.  The RX 300 combines the most useful aspects of both SUVs and sedans
to deliver on that expectation.  Yet that versatility comes with a look of
style, luxury and adventure unequaled by typical SUVs.
    Rather than a conventional center console, the RX 300 provides an
especially useful area between the front seats.  With its shift lever
conveniently mounted in the center instrument panel, floor space is available
for storing small items such as packages, purses or drive-through meal
containers.  The open foot space makes it a bit easier to move from side to
side of the vehicle, if desired.
    Between the seat cushions is a multi-level console with two drawers sized
for CDs and tapes, as well as four cup holders.
    Rear seats slide forward and aft 4.7 inches to create more rear leg room
or cargo room as needed.  The seats also recline individually and the 60/40
split rear seat backs fold forward individually making a nearly-flat load
floor.  The rear  area is equipped with a retractable tonneau cover and handy
rails for securing cargo with straps or nets.

    Thoughtful, Comprehensive Equipment
    Audio, heating, air conditioning, and trip computer functions are
monitored by a standard 5.8-inch (diagonal) liquid crystal screen in the
center instrument cluster.  Automatic climate control is standard and a micron
air filtration system is available as part of an option package.  As with all
Lexus vehicles, the RX features a standard premium audio system by Pioneer.  A
190-watt audiophile-level Nakamichi brand system is available as an option.
    Additional factory optional equipment includes leather seating surfaces
and door trim, one-touch power tilt/slide moonroof, heated front seats,
in-dash 6-CD autochanger, electronic traction control (front-wheel-drive
models only) and premium package including self-dimming inside and exterior
rear-view mirrors, driver's seat memory power adjustment, micron air
filtration system and programmable Homelink-compatible garage door
    Because it is a new vehicle concept, no directly comparable products are
offered by competitors.  The RX is expected to provide a sophisticated
alternative to traditional truck-based SUVs like the Jeep Grand Cherokee
Limited, Infiniti QX4, and Range Rover Discovery, as well as new entries such
as the Mercedes ML320.
    The RX 300 will complement the Lexus LX 470, also introduced to the media
here today.  The LX 470 replaces the LX 450, the first SUV to be offered by a
luxury carmaker, and provides the ultimate in rugged, go-anywhere capabilities
combined with luxurious comfort and accommodations.  The introduction of the
RX 300 and the all-new LX 470 will make Lexus the only full-line luxury brand
offering two distinct sport-utility platforms in the U.S.

SOURCE  Toyota Motor Sales USA