6/8/2012—Given the Lexus RX’s popularity among premium-minded drivers, you’d expect the latest RX 350 and RX 450h to fall squarely into the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” category.
However, that’s not how RX Chief Engineer Takayuki Katsuda sees it, which explains a lot about why the 2013 RX came out with more than a few enhancements this spring.
Here’s how the man behind the 2013 RX sees a few other things:
The 2022 RX: Mr. Katsuda tells us he’s already thinking about model year 2022, and that he has some predictions about the 2022 RX’s vehicle class. “I think the generic phrase ‘Sport Utility Vehicle’ will be replaced by ‘Crossover Utility Vehicle,’” says Katsuda. “The CUV will be more than an SUV. It will be functional, stylish, and, of course, it will be eco-friendly. The 2022 RX will be all of those things.”
Hidden “gifts” for Lexus owners: Katsuda has created a “hidden space” at the front of the 2013 RX console for the owner’s manual (or anything else 2013 RX drivers would like to put there). “That’s an extra present to RX owners from me,” he says with a smile.
The RX’s heritage: “There’s always a need to refresh any car, to maintain interest,” he says. “But you also have to maintain the car’s heritage. The RX has a good heritage. I still see the first-generation cars coming to U.S. dealerships [for scheduled service]. Owners love the RX’s reliability. Keeping that owner connection is a high priority.”
Spy novels: He loves them—James Bond novels especially.
Obsessing over quality: To say Katsuda is obsessed with quality is putting it mildly. For the last five years, he’s focused on perfection to the point that, at both the Kyushu, Japan and Cambridge, Canada plants, RX assembly teams have imposed their own “extreme quality” measures on top of Lexus’ already legendary standards.
Obsessing over handling: One of the biggest 2013 RX changes—increased body rigidity—reflects Katsuda’s other obsession—vehicle response. “My intention is for a more linear, natural, confident performance experience, one that appeals to the customer’s driving sense, so that when a turn is initiated, the driver’s wish is smoothly translated into action, with no delay. Great body rigidity is absolutely central to that idea,” explains Katsuda. (This RX rigidity, by the way, comes partially from a new spot-welding regime that puts many more welds into any given bodywork section).
—REPORTING BY TONY MIDDLEHURST
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