Advertisement

2010 Lexus RX first drive

Follow Nelson

2010 Lexus RX 450h

2010 Lexus RX 450h

Enlarge Photo

Launching a new vehicle - especially a luxury vehicle - is a difficult thing to do at any time. Doing it during the worst economic downturn of the past several decades is all the more challenging. And when that ill-timed luxury vehicle happens to be a de facto member of the much-hyped but ultimately smaller-than-expected crossover segment, things are downright tough.

Which is a roundabout way of saying that while flying down to San Antonio to get a taste of the new 2010 Lexus RX 350 and 450h, I wasn’t expecting to be bowled over. Sure it's the segment-defining mid-size luxury crossover, but it’s not precisely exciting when hung against a backdrop of fuel-gulping V8s or even super-high-tech plug-in hybrids.

So color me surprised when I actually found some really interesting new features in the RX - most notably a new control interface for a new navigation and information system, called Remote Touch. This is the real highlight of the new RX, and will soon be found in other Lexus vehicles, including the all-new HS 250h.

Design and Materials
Effectively combining the functionality of a mouse and a trackball, the Remote Touch system allows comfortable and intuitive use of the relocated navigation (on equipped models) or audio/entertainment display. The move away from a touchscreen format allows the panel to be placed closer to the driver’s line of sight, which is a welcome change, while the easy-access control unit keeps the driver’s hand close to - though not on - the wheel.

The Remote Touch input device makes for a truly intuitive experience

The Remote Touch input device makes for a truly intuitive experience

Enlarge Photo
The best feature of the new Remote Touch unit is its haptic response system. Instead of having to pay close visual attention to the buttons and on-screen items, the system recognizes these features and provides resistance through the Remote Touch unit itself, giving a tactile sense of where the cursor is on the screen. With minimal familiarization, one can then operate the system without even looking at the screen for certain routine tasks. When the Lexus Enform telematics system becomes integrated with the navigation system of the first vehicles in the second half of this year, the control interface will have even more uses and benefits, though it's not yet clear which models will get the Enform system first.

For those unwilling even to use hands to control the system, Lexus has included a speech recognition system, based around VoiceBox Technology’s Conversational Voice Search that more easily interprets casual phrases - meaning users aren’t locked into a fixed menu of verbal commands, but can speak freely, allowing the system to cue on key words. For instance, instead of saying “Weather,” and waiting for a sub-menu, you can say “What’s the weather like in Wichita Falls?” and the system will start the weather-searching process. Handy, and hands-free.

The cabin of the 2010 RX applies what Lexus calls its “L-Finesse” (not to be confused with ‘elfinesque’, though the coincidence is uncanny) design philosophy. Separating the center stack into two clear regions via sweeping curves and contrasting colors, the new theme gives a decidedly modern but not obtrusive style to the interior.

The instrument panel directly in front of the driver also gets some high-tech treatment in the form of an Organic LED (OLED) display panel beside the speedometer. In addition to being thinner and lighter than typical LED panels, OLED displays are also brighter and easier to read - a key element of a display likely to be washed out by bright sunlight. The OLED panel does an admirable job of remaining readable even in the harsh sunlight of south Texas.


Advertisement
 
Follow Us

 

Have an opinion?

  • Posting indicates you have read this site's Privacy Policy and Terms of Use
  • Notify me when there are more comments
Comments (5)
  1. man that interior sucks. actually it all looks pretty crap... some late lexus's have seemed very cheap and this is no different. too much of toyota seem to be inspiring lexus when it should not only completely show up toyota but be different.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  2. I drove the new RX and have to disagree with the review.The interior is the nicest in its class and blows away the Mercedes and bmw x5.The x3 should net even be mentioned in the same sentence.The new rear suspension made this SUV feel much better planted and heavy.The ride was best in class,as will as the quietness.I don't know if many buyers are going to race people from a stop light or not,but most are more mature than that.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  3. I drove the new RX and have to disagree with the review.The interior is the nicest in its class and blows away the Mercedes and bmw x5.The x3 should net even be mentioned in the same sentence.The new rear suspension made this SUV feel much better planted and heavy.The ride was best in class,as will as the quietness.I don't know if many buyers are going to race people from a stop light or not,but most are more mature than that.

    You raise a good point in that most Lexus buyers are fairly mature, though the RX does draw one of the youngest segments of all Lexus models. As for stoplight racing, that reference was thrown in as a jest, though I personally find SUV drivers to be among the most aggressive on the road, regardless of brand or market segment.

    I respect your opinion on the materials issue, but having recently spent time in a number of Mercedes and BMW vehicles, I have to disagree. Perhaps three or four years ago I would have swung the other way on the matter, but of late, the Germans have been building some truly impressive interiors. That's not a black mark against Lexus however; it's a very fine interior, and ergonomically, nearly ideal. It's just not quite on the same level as its immediate competitors.

    As for ride quality, I agree, it's very pleasant, but again I have to disagree with you when it comes to noise. The new RX, while it may be the benchmark for the segment, suffers from more wind noise at the side mirrors and engine vibration than I would find acceptable in a vehicle in its price range.

    But the whole point of a review is to give a perspective, and since we're coming from different backgrounds and experiences, we understandably have different perceptions of what the RX is like. I'm sure the RX will continue to be Lexus' best-selling model; it's a very good vehicle. But I'd be doing a disservice to the reader if I didn't point out the flaws I found in it, regardless of whether each individual agrees with me (which, in the end, is impossible).
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  4. The RX has always been much better looking than the similar offerings from Acura. And being a Lexus you know you're getting quality engineering for a good price. The topics raised by the guys above are subjective to the individual taste of the buyer but I imagine few will find enough faults with this car to walk away from it.


    But this remains to me the most hated car on the road and the reason is 3 letters long: (blinding) DRLs. When I'm crossing paths with an RX (and I'm not bothering anyone else) I flip on my high beams so they get a taste of what's like to be on my seat. Seems this car has moved the blinding lights to the fog light position. This is a step to the side and a little forward. Eliminating these useless gimmicks will make the RX a 10 in my book.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  5. fug, fug, fug.

    looks like a squished IS. not pretty.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

 

Have an opinion? Join the conversation!

Advertisement
Advertisement

Take Us With You!

 

Get FREE Dealer Quotes

From dealers near you
Go!
Advertisement

Research New Cars

Go!

Related Used Listings

Browse used listings in your area.


 
© 2014 MotorAuthority. All Rights Reserved. MotorAuthority is published by High Gear Media. Stock photography by izmo, Inc. Send us feedback.