Set to go on sale early next year as a 2010 model, the new Lexus RX450h crossover SUV gives you the best of two worlds. Featuring an efficient hybrid powertrain, it is almost as frugal as Prius, yet its interior gives you more luxury than a common tree-hugger could possibly hope for. Of course, if you are looking for a hybrid car that will save you lots of cash, this is probably not the best choice: given its official fuel efficiency rating of 29 miles per gallon, which is just 9 mpg better than that of 2010 Lexus RX 350 all-wheel drive model, you will have to cover lots of miles to break even if you count in difference in base price.
Unveiled at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show, the 2010 Lexus RX450h hybrid SUV is equipped with a 3.5-liter V6 engine and sports an improved inverter featuring total power output of 295hp. This is 27hp more than the outgoing 2008 RX400h can produce.
The hybrid-powered compact SUV, which shares its platform with the 2009 Toyota Highlander, offers a number of solutions helping to achieve greater fuel economy and lower tail-pipe emissions.
The 2010 Lexus RX450h, for example, will be shipped with an exhaust-heat recovery system reducing engine warm-up time, and a cooled exhaust-gas recirculation system capable of reducing engine pumping losses, which is the work required to move air into and out of the cylinders.
Just like the outgoing model, the 2010 RX 450h may be ordered with either a front-wheel hybrid drive or an electronically driven, part-time AWD hybrid drive system.
Although Lexus diplomatically says that RX450h’s rear-mounted electric motor-generators can supply the rear wheels with the “optimal amount of torque as conditions demand”, it is still an open question whether the rear wheels will have enough juice to pull the car free if its front wheels get stuck in a snowdrift.
The third-generation Lexus RX450h features an improved double-wishbone suspension in the rear and a pretty much standard McPherson in the front.
Inside the car, future owners will find a spacious five-passenger interior with a dual-zone cockpit design, an advanced HDD-based entertainment and navigation system with a new Remote Touch controller with haptic feedback and a voice-recognition system. Also new is a white OLED information display and an optional HUD.
The car rolls on standard 18-inch or optional 19-inch alloy wheels and sports blue-tinted headlamps and taillamps, and optional LED headlamps.
Lexus promises that the car will go on sale in the spring 2009.
Prices and full specs will be announced later.*
*UPDATE: Okay, the base price is set to be impressive $42,535 for a front-wheel drive model. A solid Mark Levinson stereo system will set you back $1610 more, while a Luxury package that seems to be necessary if you want to drive a real Lexus, not a glorified Toyota, will add extra $4700 to the grand total. As I have already noted, getting this car for the sake of saving money is definitely not worth the hassle. However, if you want to save the planet while driving in style, this is certainly a very nice choice of a compact crossover SUV.
See also: 2007 Lexus RX 350 SUV