First Look: 2010 Lexus RX 450h

By Editors on November 24, 2008 12:30 PM

Arriving in dealerships by late spring, the 2010 Lexus RX 450h promises an even more engaging driving experience than the RX 400h original. Revealed at the Los Angeles Auto Show, this luxury hybrid benefits from the same impressive -- and comprehensive -- upgrading as its conventional counterpart, the equally new 2010 RX 350. Slightly larger inside and out, the latest RX offerings have more space for five people and their cargo, enhanced ride and handling, and a host of new features from 10 standard airbags to an optional Hard Disc Drive (HDD) Navigation system that uses a novel Remote Touch controller that operates much like a computer mouse. But the major news for Lexus hybrid fans is the RX 450h's more powerful and more fuel-efficient drivetrain.

Distinguished from their RX 350 kin by minor trim variations, both the front-drive and all-wheel drive versions of the RX 450h share common motivation. A new 3.5-liter V6 that employs mileage-making Atkinson Cycle valve timing is teamed with the latest take on the Hybrid Synergy System, which features a new inverter and a more effective overall cooling setup. The 2010 RX 450h also introduces two additional bits of optimization technology to the world of gas-electric hybrids: an exhaust-heat recovery system that speeds engine warm up to aid economy and a cooled exhaust-gas recirculation (EGR) system that reduces pumping losses due to friction, also helping to boost mileage. Compared to the outgoing RX 400h with its 3.3-liter V6, the Gen II 2010 ups total output from 268 to 295 horsepower while elevating combined projected EPA fuel economy by about eight percent, an achievement that would bump that mark from just over 25 to slightly over 27 mpg.

Although offering no specifics on pricing for the 2010 RX 450h lineup, Lexus Group Vice-President and General Manager Mark Templin did confirm that the HS 250h, a dedicated luxury hybrid sedan based on the next-generation Toyota Prius, would make its world debut at the Detroit Auto Show in January.