The RX line of SUVs has been Lexus' best-selling luxury utility vehicle since its launch in 1998, and the new generation takes the vehicle into a larger, more powerful realm, while at the same time adding new efficiency-enhancing measures in the hybrid model. Launched in Los Angeles at last year's show, the RX today received its first price tag.

The RX 350, the combustion-engine-only variant of the new RX line, will start at $36,800 in base FWD form. Upgrading to AWD raises the price to $38,200. This puts the new RX 350 very close to Audi's Q5 SUV, which was revealed today to start at $37,200. Pricing for the RX 450h hasn't yet been announced. MSRP does not include a delivery, processing and handling fee of $825.

The 450h, available in both AWD and FWD configurations, features two new technologies to boost fuel economy and reduce emissions. The first is an exhaust heat recovery system that reduces engine warm-up time, enabling the engine to shut off sooner, more frequently and for longer periods, reducing its use in daily driving, cutting fuel consumption and emissions.
The second new feature is the electronic AWD system. Unlike mechanical AWD systems, the electric-powered rear-mounted motor/generator allows all four wheels to perform regenerative braking and obviates the power-sapping inefficiencies of transfer cases and the weight of extra driveshafts.

Rated at 295hp (220kW), the Atkinson-cycle 3.5L V6 gasoline engine in the RX450h picks up 27hp (20kW) over the 2008 model, but still has the same 3,500lb towing capacity, and still manages to secure a SULEV emissions rating. The RX350 uses a similarly-sized V6 engine rated at 275hp (205kW), a gain of 5hp (3kW) over the 2009 model.

Though the RX had been speculated to grow to accommodate seven passengers, the new vehicle is still billed as a five-seater despite the larger overall dimensions. The cockpit has grown to include a dual-zone layout, featuring the 'display zone' and the 'operation zone'. The 'display zone' centers around an eight-inch navigation and information display set back into the dash for visibility, while a white OLED adds multi-function information on a separate screen. The 'operation zone' features access and control of a large range of information via the 'Remote Touch' navigation controller and steering-wheel mounted switchgear.

On the outside, the new RX features a more muscular design and an aggressive stance. To complement the bigger look, the RX also gets standard 18" alloy wheels with 19" alloys optionally available. Despite the large size and typical SUV profile, however, the RX's coefficient of drag is just 0.32.

For more on both the RX 350 and RX 450h, read our first drive impressions here.


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