2010 Lexus RX 450 Hybrid

29 Nov 2009 | 5,603 views | No Comment
lexus-RX450h Starting Price $42,210.00, as-Tested Price, 52,303.00 With the push of a button, the car awakens – the gauges come alive and the steering wheel automatically adjusts to the driver’s setting.  There’s only one thing missing – the sound of an engine.  The car is completely silent.  It’s so silent in fact, that my colleagues and I mistakenly found ourselves pushing the start button more than once.   Of course, the car is operable, it’s just unusually quiet thanks to hybrid technology; one of the perks of having a shiny, new Lexus RX 450 Hybrid in your driveway. The Lexus 450H is the second generation SUV Hybrid for the replacing its predecessor, the Lexus 400H. The new Lexus Hybrid has a 3.5 Liter V-6 engine united with a Hybrid Synergy Drive System.  The sticker on our test model claims 30 MPG in the city, and 28 MPG highway, about a 10% improvement over last year’s model.  The as-tested MPG ratings on non-hybrid RX450 are 18 MPG in the city, and 24 MPG on the highway; a considerable difference.  The RX 450h draws power from its 37-kilowatt, nickel-metal hydride battery pack.  This battery, which provides 50 hp, runs the Hybrid-model's electric motors (a 123-kW electric motor for the front-wheel-drive RX and an additional rear 50-kW motor for the all-wheel-drive RX).  The new engine, coupled with the Hybrid-Electric motor, provides 295 total horsepower – a substantial increase from 268 in last year’s model.  This extra power translates to immediate and sure-footed acceleration on the pavement.  Handling feels soft at times, but not so much that the driver feels detached from the road.  The luxury SUV has a comfortable, yet unyielding ride with standard ECVT, and Electric Power Rack-and-Pinion Steering. The interior of the RX Hybrid has been totally redesigned.  The blue LED back-lit instrument panel displays relevant information in a sleek, elegant manner.  Atop the instrument cluster, a digital graph informs the driver when the battery-run engine, gas engine, or both are being used.  The most significant difference in the cabin is a mouse-driven controller.  This new device is situated in the center console, comfortably accessible to the driver’s right hand.  By simply moving the top of the controller and watching the pointer on the LED screen, the driver can control the audio systems and navigation.  If you’ve ever used a standard computer mouse, this will immediately feel natural.  The driver can adjust sensitivity settings to change the cursor speed.  Other amenities include a nine-speaker audio system, in-dash six-CD player, Bluetooth, XM satellite radio, and an MP3, I-Pod interface.  Also included is a rearview camera.  One of the more drastic changes is the upper portion of the center console.   Being described as “less rich” than the previous model, it has fewer organic components.  The new streamlined design trades wood (seen in the previous model) for steel – a change that may appeal to some, but not others.  The inside of the Lexus RX Hybrid feels spacious and comfortable.  The rear seats are big enough to seat two adults and one child.  Overall Cargo room has improved 5% from the previous model. The changes to exterior styling of the new Lexus 450H aren’t dramatic.  The lines are a bit softer than the previous model; the headlights are smaller, and the exterior looks more defined.  From a distance, it’s difficult to see a difference from the 2009 model.  Newly designed rearview mirrors have turn indicators on them.  To aid the driver while parking, the mirrors adjust to point slightly downward while the car is in reverse. Fit and finish on the RX are excellent. Safety features are plentiful.  Dual Advanced Air Bags for the driver and passenger are standard.  Also included are Knee Air Bags, Front and Rear Side Air Curtain Air Bags, and Front and Rear Seat Mounted Air Bags.  Three-Point Safety Belts are standard for all seating positions.  4-Wheel Anti-Lock Brakes with Electronic Brake-Force Distribution and Vehicle Stability Control are also standard. The new Lexus RX 450H is a technological marvel. Even though some may argue that the extra cost of the Hybrid system outweigh the MPG benefits, it’s still an exceptional vehicle.  If you want the reliability and elegance of a Lexus, and want to go green, this could be the vehicle for you.

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