Many automakers in the luxury segment use lightweight but pricey aluminum in the construction of their vehicles to help shed weight and thus boost fuel economy, including Lexus which has several models with aluminum hoods. Going forward, Lexus plans to increase its usage of the lightweight stuff, with the next-generation RX expected to feature aluminum for its hood, tailgate and closures.
The information was revealed to Automotive News (subscription required) by an inside source at Lexus’ parent company Toyota. The source also revealed that the next-generation Toyota Camry, due in 2018, will also feature aluminum, but only for its hood.
It will be built at the same plant in Cambridge, Ontario where the current RX is built and should continue to be offered in RX 350 and RX 450h variants. An eight-speed automatic is expected to be fitted across the range, and there should be an F Sport performance trim level too.
In addition to using more aluminum, a Toyota spokesperson confirmed to Automotive News that the automaker is also looking at using more mixed materials and resins to help further save weight. The practice is already used extensively by the German makes and relies on the use of lightweight materials, such as composites, for certain non-structural components that would be made of heavier steel in conventional designs.