Lexus RX

Lexus has unveiled the new Lexus RX range at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show today. The RX will be offered with a two-model range, the RX350 with a regular 3.5 litre V6 engine and the RX450h also with a 3.5 litre V6, but running on the Atkinson cycle together with a hybrid electric system. In the UK, the RX will be offered exclusively as a hybrid.

The RX350’s 3.5 litre V6 engine puts out 275 horsepower, mated to a 6-speed transmission. Both front wheel drive and all-wheel drive versions are available, with the latter using an Active Torque Control AWD system that varies torque distribution according to driving conditions. Both this model and the hybrid version uses a new double-wishbone rear suspension for better control.

Lexus RX Remote TouchWhile current Lexus cars use a simple touch screen interface to access its in-car entertainment and navigation systems, with the new RX, Lexus now has its own iDrive/MMI-like system.

It uses a “Remote Touch” controller that’s supposed to be as natural to the driver’s hand as a computer’s mouse. Let’s see if the Japanese get it better than the Germans. The system also uses HDD-based storage.

The hybrid RX450h’s 3.5 litre Atkinson cycle engine together with its hybrid electric drive system has a combined output of 295 horsepower. To differentiate it from the regular combustion engine-only RX350, it has its own front grille and bumper design, hybrid badging, blue-trimmed Lexus logos, an optional 19 inch wheel design that’s exclusive to the RX450h, blue-tinted headlamps and taillamps and optional LED headlamps.

Lexus RX450hThe RX450h’s Lexus Hybrid Drive system has two new features – the first is an exhaust gas heat recovery system that reduces the time it takes for the engine to warm up. As only a sufficiently warmed up engine can do automatic stop and go smoothly, this reduces the time it takes for the start-stop feature to be activated. The second feature is a cooled exhaust recirculation system which reduces pumping losses, helping improve power and fuel economy.

Unlike the RX350’s mechanical all-wheel drive, the RX450h’s Lexus Hybrid Drive can allows it to function as an all-wheel drive via an electric motor powering the rear wheels. The rear motor also functions as a brake energy recovery device, which means brake energy recovery can be performed on all four wheels.

Lexus Malaysia Sdn Bhd has been known to bring in new Lexus products rather quickly into the market (partly thanks to the ease of bringing in a CBU model), and looking at how the second generation RX has been spoiled by all the grey market RX and Toyota Harriers running around being sold at a much cheaper price, you can expect the new RX to make a Malaysian debut very soon next year.

Look for a hi-res gallery of the new RX after the jump.

PHOTO GALLERY: Third Generation Lexus RX450h and RX350
Click thumbnails to view high resolution photo