The RXs arrive in showrooms this spring completely revamped—yet completely familiar to anyone who’s driven the previous two editions of the five-seat crossover vehicle. For the gas-powered RX 350, the primary difference is a resculpted exterior that's very similar to last year's model, along with an interior that's sharply different--it has the swoopy curve of silver plastic that's making its way across the Toyota and Lexus lineups. There's also a sixth gear for its automatic transmission, which helps it achieve 18/24 mpg fuel economy.
The hybrid RX 450h is more of the same--but with the upsized 3.5-liter V-6 now mated to more compact batteries and motors, it's turning in fuel-economy ratings of 28/26 mpg, a significant improvement. Too, both vehicles have better cargo space, with five percent more room behind the second-row seats.
The other major improvements include a new Remote Touch controller that takes the iDrive concept and mates it with computer mouse-style haptics, and USB connectivity for music players, which makes operating your iPhone a joy, finally (no aux-jack hiss and no cable that doesn't also charge your cellie).
Though the “passionate pursuit of perfection” could use a little more passion, the 2010 Lexus RX 350 leaves few owners wanting more luxury or practicality--especially when compared to rivals like the 2009 Lincoln MKX and Cadillac SRX, though it's no bargain compared to the also-ritzy Nissan Murano. Here's a recap of our Bottom Line:
- Velvety ride
- Lexus service and reputation
- “Remote Touch” controller better than iDrive
- Available hybrid version
- Engine note is now noticeable
- “Remote Touch” still takes getting used to
- Passionless driving experience
- Not much that’s really new for ’10
Stay tuned for more -- we'll be driving the 2010 Volvo XC60, 2010 Kia Soul, and 2010 Toyota Prius soon.