Lexus' popular RX crossover has been completely redesigned for 2010, and it shares a lot of components with Toyota's Venza crossover. The new RX is slightly longer and wider than the 2009 model, and it packs a slightly more powerful V-6 engine. All-wheel drive is optional.
Mechanical highlights include a six-speed automatic transmission and a new rear suspension, which Lexus says frees up more cargo room and improves handling over the outgoing RX's simpler setup. Other firsts include a joystick-like controller for the navigation system, conversational voice recognition software and a dual-screen rear entertainment system.
The five-seat RX comes as a gas-powered RX 350 or gas-electric hybrid RX 450h. The latter model is covered separately in Cars.com's Research section.
Though slightly taller than its predecessor, the RX 350 looks more carlike than ever. Its dimensions, now wider and longer, give the crossover a downright wagon-like stance. In back are frosted taillight effects that are similar to what the outgoing RX had. Eighteen-inch alloy wheels are standard, with 19-inchers optional.
At 188 inches long and 74 inches wide, the RX is longer and narrower than the competing Lincoln MKX. Three-row competitors like the Acura MDX and Buick Enclave are larger all around.
The RX's interior swaps much of the prior generation's symmetrical shapes for swooping panels and futuristic controls. Chief among them is Lexus' Remote Touch system, which uses a knob to navigate menus with a mouse-like arrow cursor on the dashboard display screen. Other features include voice-recognition software that Lexus says will pick up conversational prompts rather than traditional formal, specific commands.
The optional leather seats are power-adjustable up front. The backseat folds in a 40/20/40 split; like before, it reclines and adjusts forward and backward. High-tech options include a head-up display with LED lighting that's purportedly bright enough to read even on a sunny day.
Under the Hood
A 275-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 is standard; it works with a six-speed automatic transmission. Maximum towing capacity remains 3,500 pounds, a rating the MKX matches and both the MDX and Enclave can beat.
Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive optional.
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. Active head restraints, antilock brakes, traction control and an electronic stability system are also standard.
Lexus' Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management system, which better integrates the electronic stability system with various other systems, is optional. So is a radar-based Pre-Collision System that can cinch up the seat belts and prime the brakes for maximum response should it detect an imminent impact. Other options include adaptive headlights that automatically swivel a few degrees to better illuminate a corner; adaptive cruise control; and a new side-mirror-mounted camera system that gives drivers a wide view of the adjacent lane.
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