Lexus redesigned its five-seat RX crossover for 2010, with the gasoline RX 350 carrying over a similar V-6 drivetrain. Because its electrically assisted V-6 grew to 3.5 liters from 3.3 liters, the RX 400h became the RX 450h. Slight exterior tweaks differentiate the RX 450h from its non-hybrid sibling.
Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive optional. The non-hybrid RX 350 is covered separately in Cars.com's Research section.
What's New for 2011
Changes are minimal for this model year. A 12-volt outlet has moved from inside the center console to outside for easier access, and models with the optional navigation system lose the compass from the inside mirror because the nav system has its own compass. The Sport Package is no longer offered. The RX 350 adds a brake override system for 2011, but that feature was already standard on the RX 450h.
Though it's a few hairs taller than its predecessor, the RX 450h looks more carlike than ever; its dimensions, now also wider and longer, give the crossover a wagonlike stance. In back are frosted taillight effects similar to those on the previous RX. Eighteen-inch alloy wheels are standard, with 19-inchers optional. Exterior features include:
- Blue-trimmed Lexus logos
- Unique grille and front bumper design
- Blue-tinted headlights and taillights
- Optional LED headlights
Like Lexus' other hybrids, the RX 450h's display screen can show the power flow between the drivetrain's electric motors, engine and battery. In place of the RX 350's tachometer is a gauge showing electric-motor assist versus battery recharging. Other features include voice-recognition software that Lexus says will pick up conversational prompts rather than traditional formal, specific commands. High-tech options include a head-up display with LED lighting that's purportedly bright enough to read on a sunny day. The interior also features Lexus' Remote Touch system, which uses a knob to navigate menus on the dashboard display screen. Interior features include:
- Cloth seats standard, leather optional
- Real wood interior trim
- 10-way power front seats
- Third-row seat not offered
Under the Hood
The RX 450h uses a gasoline 3.5-liter V-6 that's assisted by electric motors, creating up to 295 combined horsepower and estimated city gas mileage of 30-32 mpg. It can cruise on electric-only power at low speeds. Like other hybrids, its electric motors draw power from the friction of deceleration, called regenerative braking. Mechanical features include:
- Standard front-wheel drive
- Optional all-wheel drive
- Separate motors power front and rear wheels in all-wheel-drive models
- Continuously variable automatic transmission
- Premium fuel recommended
- Towing capacity of 3,500 pounds with optional package
Ten standard airbags include four in front — the two required chest airbags plus two knee airbags — as well as seat-mounted side airbags for the first and second rows. Head-protecting side curtain airbags span both rows. Other standard safety features include:
- Active front head restraints
- Four-wheel antilock brakes
- Traction control
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