Lexus RX

When Lexus first introduced the RX in 1998 by marrying the personality of a luxury car with the body of an SUV they not only created the crossover category of automobile, but also a core product that would become one of their defining automobiles.Lexus further revolutionized the crossover market in 2005 with the introduction of the RX 400h, the first (and only to-date) hybrid luxury utility vehicle. When Lexus announced that it was time to raise the bar yet again with their 2010 model, I headed to Napa Valley to see what was next for their top-selling product.

Although not a single body panel is the same as last year, there is a distinct familiarity in the outline of the new model. The new RX has increased in every dimension and features a lower profile combined with a wider stance which contributes to a much more masculine look than last year’s car. A quick glance at the next generation RX reveals the same trapezoidal grille, swept back headlights, and broad shoulder lines that have become synonymous with the Lexus L-finesse styling language.

A more thorough examination reveals new mirror-integrated turn signals, plated moldings added at the base of the doors, projector style headlights with available bi-Xenon HID lamps, and a bodycolored rear spoiler that houses the AM/FM radio antenna while also hiding the rear wiper from view. Eighteen-inch wheels come standard on the RX 350 while the hybrid receives nineteen-inchers from the factory. The RX 450h has also undergone the standard trim upgrades seen throughout the Lexus Hybrid family; these include blue tinted headlamp and taillight covers, an exclusive grille and front bumper, Hybrid logos on the rocker panels, and blue-tinted emblems all around.

Browsing through the interior of the RX you’ll find an elegantly designed gauge cluster with built-in Organic LED display, an evolutionary swooping dashboard and HVAC panel that you’ll either love or hate, as well as an immense amount of storage space throughout the cabin. Perhaps the biggest addition to the interior is Lexus’s Remote Touch controller which works similar to Mercedes’ COMAND and BMW’s iDrive systems, but instead of a meager rotating knob the Remote Touch system works like a computer mouse with controllable levels of haptic feedback that “locks” the joystick in place when the pointer is hovering over items on screen. Using the Hen Lexus first introduced the RX in 1998 by marrying the personality of a luxury car with the body of an SUV they not only created the crossover category of automobile, but also a core product that would become one of their defining automobiles.

Lexus further revolutionized the crossover market in 2005 with the introduction of the RX 400h, the first (and only to-date) hybrid luxury utility vehicle. When Lexus announced that it was time to raise the bar yet again with their 2010 model, I headed to Napa Valley to see what was next for their top-selling product.

Although not a single body panel is the same as last year, there is a distinct familiarity in the outline of the new model. The new RX has increased in every dimension and features a lower profile combined with a wider stance which contributes to a much more masculine look than last year’s car. A quick glance at the next generation RX reveals the same trapezoidal grille, swept back headlights, and broad shoulder lines that have become synonymous with the Lexus L-finesse styling language.

A more thorough examination reveals new mirror-integrated turn signals, plated moldings added at the base of the doors, projector style headlights with available bi-Xenon HID lamps, and a bodycolored rear spoiler that houses the AM/FM radio antenna while also hiding the rear wiper from view. Eighteen-inch wheels come standard on the RX 350 while the hybrid receives nineteen-inchers from the factory. The RX 450h has also undergone the standard trim upgrades seen throughout the Lexus Hybrid family; these include blue tinted headlamp and taillight covers, an exclusive grille and front bumper, Hybrid logos on the rocker panels, and blue-tinted emblems all around.

Browsing through the interior of the RX you’ll find an elegantly designed gauge cluster with built-in Organic LED display, an evolutionary swooping dashboard and HVAC panel that you’ll either love or hate, as well as an immense amount of storage space throughout the cabin. Perhaps the biggest addition to the interior is Lexus’s Remote Touch controller which works similar to Mercedes’ COMAND and BMW’s iDrive systems, but instead of a meager rotating knob the Remote Touch system works like a computer mouse with controllable levels of haptic feedback that “locks” the joystick in place when the pointer is hovering over items on screen. Using the System while driving is fairly difficult but thankfully the RX comes equipped with the best voice-recognition software in the business, which enables you to control virtually everything that the remote touch system would without lifting a hand from the steering wheel.

Receiving a revised version of last-generation’s 3.5- liter V6, the RX 350 sees 275 horsepower along with 257lb-ft of torque (90% of which is available from 2,300 to 6,100 rpm) thanks to revised intake and exhaust manifolds as well as low-friction coatings on the engine’s internal surfaces. Although these figures are only a 5hp and 6lb-ft increase and result in a minor gain in gas mileage to 18/25, the all new six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode allows the RX 350 to make the most of it by offering closer gear ratios than the previous version’s five-speed unit.The AWD model also comes equipped with a new electromagnetic clutch in the rear differential which controls front to rear torque bias.

Unlike the gas-only model, the RX 450h receives a completely new Lexus Hybrid Drive system. The new 3.5-liter Atkinson cycle V6 features an exhaust heat recovery system which recycles heat from the exhaust to accelerate warming of engine coolant, allowing engine shut-off to occur sooner and for longer distances. An Exhaust Gas Recirculation cooling system lowers emissions even further by reducing the need for fuel enrichment. Coupling the new V6 to a pair of new, lighter and more powerful electric motors results in a 27 horsepower increase over the RX 400h, bumping the overall power output to an impressive 295hp and an astounding 20% increase in fuel mileage to 32/28mpg city/highway.

Spending a full day piloting all four iterations of the new RX through the winding hills of Napa Valley revealed handling characteristics which were miles ahead of the previous generation; the new doublewishbone rear suspension and wider tires truly pay service to the RX’s road-handling prowess. With Lexus’s VDIM and available Pre-Collision System (PCS) as well as a class-leading ten airbags, the RX stays true to its heritage of being among the safest vehicles on the road. While everyone else on the road may not notice that the 2010 RX is a completely new from the ground up, rest assured that once you touch the push button ignition for the first time, you will know what truly lies beneath.

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