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2008-11-21 07:56
Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Lexus
Model RX
Engine 3.5l V6 (hyrbird)
Power 202kW, 217kW
Amidst the sense of pending doom in the air at the LA auto show, Lexus showcased its new RX 450h, an SUV for the future.

Key selling point of the Lexus range of luxury vehicles is hybrid-drive technology. Lexus believes the fusion of internal-combustion and electric power is the way to bridge the technological divide between alternative power systems of the future, and the realities of contemporary carbon resources.

We’ve driven the current RX 400h locally, and the hybrid drive system endows it with mighty swift performance, though fuel-consumption is not quite as miserly as claimed – primarily due to the performance on tap being hard to resist.

Although the hybrid drive system is ace, the RX, as a package, was getting on a bit. For 2009 the range gets subtle styling updates, more power and some new interior goodies.

Bigger engine

Lexus engine technology engineers have improved both power and efficiency with regards to the hybrid-drive system by using a larger, 3.5l V6 petrol engine, which produces a preliminary 217kW, contrasted with the current 197kW output managed by the 3.3l V6.  

Lexus has been not released revised performance or consumption figures, nor torque output, so make of the new RX 450h’s development cycle what you wish…

The internal-combustion only RX 350 soldiers on with its familiar 3.5l V6 engine, lightly tweaked to produce 202kW.

From an emissions perspective (it’s a hybrid remember, saving the world is part of the product planning) RX now features an exhaust-heat recovery system which reduces engine warm-up times, whilst an exhaust-gas recirculation system reduces pumping losses.

It might be a premium product, but RX is a part-time all-wheel drive machine, primarily front-wheel drive with rear-wheel traction on call when necessary. The rear mounted electric motor/generator unit does enable perpetual all-wheel drive regenerative braking though, ensuring optimal kinetic charging efficiency for the hybrid battery pack.

Revised looks

Styling changes are subtle but not to the degree of being inconsequential. On the 450h you’ll notice the new grille, with its vertical slats, framed by narrower, more rectangular shaped headlights.

Along the flanks a new, aggressive, shoulder-line styling crease runs from front to rear light cluster units. Blue-tinted lamps for all light clusters, exclusive 19-inch alloys and plenty of hybrid badging further distinguish the range topping RX 450h. LED embedded lights are optional.

A clever addition to the latest RX 450h is the wide-angle side view monitor. Resolving imagery from a camera located under the passenger side-view mirror, the driver can check hard-to-view areas on the passenger side of the vehicle via the navigation screen.

Interior comfort and convenience features include the new remote touch control unit for the navigation system; and voice recognition as standard. Aesthetically the RX now features a new steering wheel with wood inlays, and completely redesigned centre-console which now looks a lot less like the result of a Toyota parts bin raid.

Always compressively equipped, the RX features very little in the range of options. Amongst the option boxes you could tick are dual-screen rear entertainment system capability, radar cruise control, sports tuned suspension and a Mark Levinson surround sound system.

The revised RX range is expected to go on sale in the US towards the end of the first quarter next year.


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