2010 Lexus RX 450h Touring
2010 Lexus RX 450h Touring. Click image to enlarge
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Review and photos by Jil McIntosh

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2010 Lexus RX

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Secrets of Lexus RX hybrid system, by Paul Williams

Oshawa, Ontario – When the redesigned, second-generation Lexus RX arrived for 2009, the hybrid version took a temporary vacation. It’s back for 2010, morphing from the RX 400h into the all-new RX 450h, with updated styling, features and technology that turn it into an extremely nice machine for those who like to mix some electricity with their petroleum.

As with many Toyota/Lexus makeovers, some of the differences are subtle at first glance. On the exterior, the RX is gently smoothed out, and looks leaner and lighter, even though its curb weight has increased by 129 kilograms, for a new total of 2,110 kg. Much of it is improved crash protection in the body structure, as the hybrid system is now smaller and lighter. The changes are far more noticeable inside. The centre stack sheds a number of its buttons and substitutes slim, horizontal air vents for the previous vertical rectangular ones, making everything look elegant and much less cluttered. The eight-inch LCD display is now tucked deeply into a recess in the dash, making it easy to read in all lighting conditions, while the centre console stretches back between the front seats, instead of stopping abruptly and hanging in mid-air as the previous generation’s did. The old design did provide storage space on the front floor, a boon for those who need to stash purses or briefcases close to them, but the new design takes that into account: the console is hollow at the front, with a generous storage space carved out under it that will easily accommodate most bags.

2010 Lexus RX 450h Touring
2010 Lexus RX 450h Touring . Click image to enlarge

Still, the propulsion system is the heart of the RX 450h, and its evolution has prompted the name change from the previous RX 400h. The new model uses a 3.5-litre V6 engine in place of the 400h’s 3.3-litre V6, bringing net horsepower up to 295 hp, from the previous 268 hp. Torque, which Lexus measures on the gasoline engine only, rises to 234 lb-ft from 212 lb-ft. The transmission is a continuously variable unit (CVT), but so well-done that it feels more like a conventional unit. Despite the increase in power and weight, fuel consumption actually improves: the RX 400h was rated at 7.8 L/100 km in the city, and 8.4 on the highway, while the RX 450h is officially measured at 6.6 in the city, and 7.2 on the highway. In my week with it, which included an 870-km highway round trip, I averaged 8.5 L/100 km (34 mpg Imp).

2010 Lexus RX 450h Touring
2010 Lexus RX 450h Touring . Click image to enlarge

Naturally, there’s a premium for the technology, and the RX 450h starts at $58,900; as with most hybrids, you’re saving the planet, not your wallet. The conventionally-powered RX 350 starts at $46,900, but there’s a little more to the RX 450h’s premium than just the hybrid system. The 450h’s list of standard features includes heated and ventilated perforated leather seats, driver’s side memory, sunroof, power liftgate, card key, backup camera, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM), and adaptive and auto-levelling bi-xenon headlamps with automatic high-beam feature. Adding those items as options to the RX 350 brings it to $51,500. The RX 350’s official fuel economy rating is 11.6 in the city, and 8.2 on the highway. I took one on the same highway trip earlier this year, in cold weather, and averaged 10.7 L/100 km (26 mpg Imp).

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