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 the Cars.com Research section.
New for 2012
There are no significant changes for the 2012 model year.
Though it's a few hairs taller than its predecessor, the RX 450h looks more carlike than ever; its dimensions 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 optional navigation system features Lexus' Remote Touch interface, which uses a joystick-like device to navigate menus on the dashboard screen. Interior features include:
- Cloth seats standard, leather optional
- Real wood trim
- 10-way power front seats
Under the Hood
The RX 450h uses a gasoline 3.5-liter V-6 that's assisted by electric motors, creating 295 combined horsepower. 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
- 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-impact airbags for both rows. Head-protecting side curtain airbags cover both rows. Other standard safety features include:
- Active front head restraints
- All-disc antilock brakes
- Traction control
- Electronic stability system
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