The RX line of SUVs has been Lexus' highest-selling luxury utility vehicle since its opening in 1998, and the new model takes the vehicle into a bigger, more potent sphere, while at the same time putting in new efficiency-enhancing measures in the hybrid version. The 450h, offered in both AWD and FWD arrangements, highlights two new technologies to increase fuel economy and reduce emissions.
The first is an exhaust heat recovery system that lowers engine warm-up time, helping the engine to shut off faster, more often and for extended periods of time, lowering its use in daily driving, putting down fuel consumption and emissions.
The second new attribute is the electronic AWD system. Nothing like mechanical AWD systems, the electric-propelled rear-located motor/generator permits all four wheels to perform regenerative braking and avoids the power-draining inefficiencies of transfer cases and the weight of extra driveshafts.
Logged in at 295 hp (220kW), the Atkinson-cycle 3.5L V6 gasoline engine in the RX450h adds 27hp (20kW) more over the 2008 model, but preserves the same 3,500lb towing capacity, and still comes up to safe SULEV emissions rating. The RX350 utilizes a similarly-sized V6 engine measured at 275hp (205kW), an increase of 5hp (3kW) over the 2009 model.
Although the RX had been thought to have expanded to house seven passengers, the new vehicle is still labeled as a five-seater in spite of the larger total dimensions.
The cabin has grown to include a double-zone arrangement, highlighting the 'display zone' and the 'operation zone'. The 'display zone' focuses on an eight-inch navigation and information display set back into the dashboard for more visibility, while a white OLED provides multi-function information on a separate monitor.
The 'operation zone' highlights access and control of a large segment of information through the 'Remote Touch' navigation controller and a switchgear mounted on the steering-wheel.
On the exterior, the fresh RX highlights a more ruddy design and a ferocious stance. To support the larger look, the RX also gets 18" alloy wheels as standard with 19" alloys available as an option. In spite of the large size and standard SUV profile, however, the RX's drag coefficient is just 0.32.