Technology Gadgets Galore
The new RX has a long list of high-tech gadgets, including an available Hard Disk Drive (HDD) navigation system, featuring an all-new “Remote Touch” controller. Positioned on the center console, Remote Touch is comparable to a computer mouse. While the new RX features voice recognition as standard equipment, the new navigation system also includes a new casual language voice-recognition system that acknowledges conversational commands. Standard XM satellite-radio capability is joined by XM NavTraffic and new NavWeather features.
The move from a touchscreen to a remote-control-type interface also has allowed Lexus to design a more shapely dash for the RX that spreads out before you instead of getting up in your face. So you no longer have the suspicion that you’re driving around in a repackaged minivan with an expensive hybrid drivetrain.
The new RX makes it easier to stay connected with Bluetooth technology (standard) and the navigation system’s voice commands (optional) – whether it’s communication with family and friends, singing along with your favorite music, or finding what you want when you want it.
The new navigation system stores its maps on a hard drive. Unfortunately, the RX 450h only offers 2D maps, as opposed to the 3D maps becoming common with other automakers. But these maps show good resolution and are overlaid with traffic information, including traffic flow in red, amber, or green, as well as specific incidents.
The 2010 RX 450h offers most of the music sources we’ve come to expect from a modern system. Along with satellite radio, there is an MP3 compatible in-dash six-CD changer, a USB port that can also accept an iPod cable, an auxiliary input, and Bluetooth audio streaming. The only things it lacks are HD radio and the ability to rip CDs to the navigation system’s hard drive.
For the eco-conscious driver who wants more than a plane-Jane Prius, there are lots and lots of luxury amenities. The 6-disc DVD changer and 330 Watt 15-speaker Mark Levinson surround system allows passengers to enjoy videos and 7.1-channel surround sound. Visual stimulation for passengers in the second row is also possible with the rear seat entertainment system. Rear-seat video monitors are conveniently mounted to the backs of the front seats, meaning they don’t change positions with the headrests and there is no screen dropping down from the ceiling to obscure the rearview mirror. Totally kick-ass even if you are not an audiophile or movie fan.
The Bluetooth phone system is the same one we saw in the RX 350, and it does everything we could ask. It paired easily to an iPhone and let us upload the phone’s contact list to the car. Contacts were available on the LCD, using the Remote Touch controller, but, more conveniently, each contact can be dialed by name with the car’s voice command system.
The headlights not only turn on and off automatically, but the high beams automatically switch to low beams when another vehicle is sensed by a camera mounted to the rearview mirror. The side mirrors have LED turn-signal indicators, and the brake lights and taillights are LEDs, too.
The SmartAccess keyless entry system was one of my favorite new features because it freed up my hands. The key stays in your pocket and the doors unlock by themselves when you reach for them. There’s a button on the keyfob to open the power rear liftgate and a button in the cargo area to close it.
Although it’s not any quicker, the 2010 Lexus RX 450h is a better vehicle than the RX 400h. It’s a bit more fuel-efficient, and whether you’re accelerating, braking or turning a corner, this hybrid RX is a touch smoother and more refined. It feels more like a normal luxury crossover SUV.
Yet the 2010 Lexus RX 450h’s extreme poundage seems to be at odds with its mission of efficiency. Maybe hybrids will save us from cooking ourselves in CO2 one day, but not if they weigh 4,800 pounds apiece.
|Official website for Lexus cars, hybrids, and SUVs – www.lexus.com|
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