2010 Lexus RX
Safely in the Middle of the Road
By Allyson Harwood

WE LIKE: Remote Touch Controller, quiet cabin, excellent standard safety features.
WE DON'T LIKE: High price for hybrid, bland drive, numb steering.

The bestselling RX continues along its path of having solid build quality, class-leading safety features-including 10 airbags standard-and a quiet, attractive interior. The new generation returns for 2010 with all-new sheetmetal, slightly larger dimensions, refreshed roomier cabin, revised engine, new transmission, and new technology. It's still available in front- or all-wheel drive, with a 275-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 on its own or as part of a 295-horse hybrid system with an electric motor in front, plus a rear motor in AWD models. In the cabin, the coolest new feature is the Remote Touch controller for the navigation system. It's shaped like a computer mouse and works essentially the same way. It's so easy to use that unlike some of the other systems out there, we never found ourselves taking our eyes off the road to operate it.

The RX serves as reliable, smooth transportation, but it won't make your heart race. As senior editor Ron Kiino explains, the RX is "not a car you'll ever ache to drive." The 3.5-liter V-6 puts out five more horses and six more pound-feet than it did last year, and the hybrid's combined output is up 27 horsepower to 295. But the steering is somewhat numb and the RX feels heavy on the road. Technical editor Kim Reynolds was impressed with the ride, noting there were no chassis quakes over bad patches of highway. The front-drive RX 350 and AWD RX 450h had similar performance numbers at the track, despite the near-600-pound weight difference. The 350 reached 60 mph in 6.8 seconds (6.9 for the 450h) and went a quarter mile in 15.3 seconds at 91.4 mph. Braking from 60 mph required 138 feet (versus 137 in the hybrid).

The biggest shock here may be the bottom line for the RX 450h. While it was admittedly a fully loaded model, it came with nearly $16,000 of options, which shot the as-tested price up to $59,815. (The front-drive 350 was a more reasonable $44,851.) With a price this high, many may wonder if having a 30-mpg hybrid is worth the price of admission.

2010 Lexus RX
Base price range $37,675-$44,125
Price as tested $44,851; $59,815*
Vehicle layout Front engine, FWD/AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
Engine 3.5L/275-hp/257-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6; 3.5L/245-hp/ 234-lb-ft Atkinson cycle DOHC 24-valve V-6 plus 167-hp/247-lb-ft front and 68-hp/103-lb-ft rear electric motors
Transmission 6-speed automatic, CVT
Curb weight (f/r dist) 4228 lb (58/42%); 4790 lb (56/44%)*
Wheelbase 107.9 in
Length x width x height 187.8 x 74.2 x 66.3 in
0-60 mph 6.8; 6.9 sec*
Quarter mile 15.3 sec @ 91.4 mph; 15.2 sec @ 92.6 mph*
Braking, 60-0 mph 138 ft; 137 ft*
Lateral acceleration 0.75; 0.74 g (avg)*
MT Figure Eight 28.4 sec @ 0.59 g (avg); 28.6 sec @ 0.59 g (avg)*
MT observed fuel econ 16.6; 19.0 mpg*
EPA city/hwy fuel econ 18/25; 30/28 mpg*
CO2 emissions 0.94; 0.67 lb/mile*
*RX 350; RX 450h AWD
Engineering ***
Design ***
Interior/Functionality ****
Performance ***
On-road refinement ***
Off-road ability **
Value ***
Impresses with cool tech and high-end features.