2010 Lexus RX 350
2010 Lexus RX 350. Click image to enlarge

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2010 Lexus RX

Spring arrived, officially, on March 20, the same day that our Lexus RX 350 was scheduled to be returned to the manufacturer. The Lexus has gone and, as far as we can see, so has winter. We haven’t had a substantial snowfall since early February, and March has turned out to be one of the nicest months in memory. We’re now taking bets on when the snow will completely disappear from our north facing deck. Our series was intended to highlight the winter capability of all wheel drive vehicles, but as we all know, you just can’t count on the weather.

Tests we’ve done with the previous generation RX demonstrated that the Lexus is a very capable winter vehicle (see this review of the 2007 Lexus RX 350. And for 2010, Lexus has taken steps to make the RX even better by improving its platform, strengthening the body, and adding additional active and passive safety features. The 2010 RX 350 will make it easier to avoid a collision and if a collision is unavoidable, will do more to keep you and your family safe.

A stronger body – 42 per cent of the RX’s structure now uses high tensile strength sheet steel – and a comprehensive supplemental restraint system provides a greater level of safety in the event of a collision. The 2010 RX 350 now has a segment leading 10 standard airbags, including side curtain airbags, front seat-mounted side airbags, rear side airbags (for the outboard seating positions), and knee airbags for the driver and front passenger. The side curtain airbags will inflate when a sensor determines that a roll-over is imminent. Active front headrests with whiplash protection, vertically-adjustable headrests in all positions and anchor points for child restraint seats are all standard equipment.

2010 Lexus RX 350
2010 Lexus RX 350. Click image to enlarge

Collision avoidance includes technology and systems designed to improve vehicle stability, agility and stopping. With respect to the latter, enhanced braking power comes from new two-piston front calipers and larger brake rotors front and rear. The new RX’s wider stance and lower powertrain centre of gravity help improve stability and agility, but a new larger front stabilizer bar and a completely new double-wishbone rear suspension also help. Electric power steering also contributes to improved agility and better steering feel. The RX 350 feels substantial on the road, but is surprisingly nimble.

Standard active safety features include all-wheel drive, stability control, traction control and anti-lock brakes with brake assist. As we discussed last week, the all-wheel drive system uses a new electronically controlled coupling ahead of the rear differential to manage torque between the front and rear wheels. Previously, torque was normally distributed 50/50 between the front and rear axles and adjusted as needed when either the front or rear wheels began to slip. On the 2010 RX 350, torque is distributed to all four wheels during acceleration, but in normal driving is sent only to the front wheels, improving fuel economy. The system can be locked in a 50/50 split to help navigate deep snow at low speed.

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