As vehicles become more complex, driving becomes more like operating a computer. Yet the new 2010 Lexus RX 350 and RX 450h seems uncommonly easy to operate. And they are brimming with new technology. If the RX were a computer, and in more ways than ever, it is, it would have a plug-and-play operating system and an inviting, engaging user interface.
When driven back-to-back against the previous model, it's clear the new 2010 RX offers more than cosmetic improvements. Mechanical improvements for the all-new Lexus RX include an independent rear suspension, a 10-airbag safety system, a six-speed sequential transmission, and an improved all-wheel-drive system. Upgraded accommodations include better seats, integrated satellite radio, acoustic glass, automatic high beam control, and a heads-up display among other things. Many of the improvements are due to more and better computer logic for integrated control of driving systems such as the transmission, all-wheel-drive, navigation, steering and brakes.
Perhaps the key interior upgrade is the introduction of a mouse-like controller which Lexus calls Remote touch. It's used instead of a touch screen to operate climate, audio and the navigation system.
Compared to competing SUVs, such as the current Acura MDX, Mercedes ML 350 and BMW X5 3.0, the RX 350 gets better mileage and cleaner emissions ratings. The RX 450h hybrid gets better mileage yet, and is among the cleanest vehicles yet devised by man.
The RX 350 and RX 450h are offered with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The all-wheel-drive system is completely new, lighter and more efficient. It works electronically without the locking center differential in previous models.
The RX 350 comes with a 3.5-liter V6 mated to a six-speed automatic multi-mode transmission. Compared to the current model, the RX 350 is a little heavier due to stouter rear suspension components, which provide upgraded crash performance.