2008 Los Angeles Auto Show Lexus unveiled the updated RX range of soft-roaders at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show. The new vehicles feature updated powertrains and new designs, as well as being the first Lexuses to sport an iDrive/MMI/Comand-style interface.
Same, same but different (part I)
The redesigned RX has headlamps pulled tautly back in a fashion similar to the current-generation Toyota Camry, while the trapezoidal grille evokes the Lexus LS sedan. The new petrol RX350 goes on sale in the first quarter of 2009, while the hybrid RX450h won't lob in until mid-year.
Same, same but different (part II)
The profile of the RX hasn't changed much from the current model, retaining the same silhouette. The new tail-light design is more simple than the one seen on the old model.
Now that's different
The RX's new dashboard configuration moves the OLED further back into the dash for better daytime visibility, while the optional LED-based heads-up display is claimed by Lexus to be bright enough to be read in direct sunlight. Revised steering wheel controls and a simplified centre stack join old favorites — such as the Mark Levinson surround sound system — in rounding out the RX's greatly improved interior.
iDrive/MMI/Comand by Lexus
At the centre of the cabin tech experience is the hard-drive-based navigation system with a new "Remote Touch" controller. This new mouselike joystick is positioned on the centre console, where it falls naturally in the driver's hand. The driver controls an on-screen cursor with the joystick. We had a chance to try out the system and found it to be extremely natural and intuitive, but we'll have to wait until we can get one on the road before we can evaluate how the system works in a more stressful environment.
More power to ya
Under the hood, the RX450h features an upgraded hybrid drive system, which utilizes a 3.5-litre V6 running on the highly efficient Atkinson cycle and a pair of electric motors, one for each axle. The petrol engine works with the front electric engine, while the rear electric engine kicks in when needed. This configuration is similar to that of the current model and offers the advantage of an all-wheel drive system, without the added weight or complexity of a centre differential or a driveshaft running to the rear. Power has been increased to about 220kW (20 more than the current model).
Helping the hybrid drive keep efficiency in check are two new exhaust-based systems. The first is an exhaust-heat recovery system that reduces engine warm-up time allowing it to stop earlier, more often, and for longer periods. Running the engine less begets lower emissions and higher fuel economy. The second is a cooled exhaust-gas recirculation system that reduces engine pumping losses, which also helps to improve economy.
The gauges feature white backlit numerals with blue ambient lighting and an upgraded LCD multi-information display. As we saw in the outgoing RX400h, the hybrid model features a power-meter in lieu of a traditional tachometer.
Rear seat entertainment is handled by these seat back displays which are mounted in such a way that allows independent adjustment of the headrests.
No more slots for you
The RX350 features a different front bumper from its hybrid brother, the RX450h, losing the slit-like opening beneath the upper grille. Meanwhile, the RX 350 will be powered by a conventional petrol-burning 204kW, 3.5-litre V6 with a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.