Toyota's New Global Architecture is expanding the possibilities.
There used to be a time when if you wanted to know what a new Lexus would be like, you looked at the equivalent Toyota and thought about the image with a little more luxury. While that may still be the case for some models like the Toyota Avalon and Lexus ES, many of Lexus' products are now bespoke, such as the IS, GS, and the stunning Lexus LC. But with modular platforms taking over the production scene, we're once again able to learn more about potential Lexus products by looking at Toyota derivatives. That's the case with the latest model just revealed in Japan, the new Toyota Harrier, which is in all likelihood our best look yet at a new Lexus RX.
Based on the Toyota TNGA-K global architecture, the Harrier shares a platform with current US favorites like the Toyota Avalon, RAV4, and Highlander. This platform has shown its scalability already, capable of underpinning both compact and midsize products, and so far, we're yet to experience a bad apple on this framework. The Harrier occupies the midsize segment and, judging from the styling and premium look of it, it's a high-end alternative for the Japanese market that wouldn't look amiss with a Lexus badge on the steering wheel thanks to an abundance of leather and bentwood detailing.
It would make the perfect replacement for the now five-year-old Lexus RX, which is based on the older Toyota K platform and in recent years has lost its luster against more modern rivals like the BMW X5, Audi Q7, and Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class.
Powering the Harrier in the standard specification is a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder developing 169 horsepower and 153 lb-ft of torque, but a hybrid derivative puts out 176 hp and 163 lb-ft. The platform is capable of housing V6 engines, though, as seen in the Avalon and Camry, so a US-bound Lexus RX would likely benefit from a larger engine in order to keep pace with rivals. A CVT automatic transmission is standard, as is a choice between front- and all-wheel-drive on both powertrain choices. A full raft of safety features is also included under the Toyota Safety Sense banner, and the interior is a tech-fest thanks to a 12.3-inch touchscreen display.
While at this stage there's no hard and fast confirmation from Toyota that the Harrier will be the next RX, it seems like a logical progression. Considering we weren't massive fans of the RX when we drove it recently, we'd welcome the new model. It's only likely to arrive for 2023, though, so there's still a substantial wait.