Lexus RX 450h Long Term Review: Week 5


2010 Lexus RX 450h Steering Wheel

I’m now halfway through my time with the 2010 Lexus RX 450h— after six weeks, the interior controls and options has become second nature, and that familiarity has increased my appreciation of the design decisions throughout the cabin, particularly with the steering wheel layout.

You would think the steering wheel would feel crowded with nine buttons and a toggle switch, but it’s arranged in such a way that I have yet to accidentally press a button. The radio & telephone controls are similar to what’s found in the rest of the Lexus lineup, but one new refinement is the toggle switch that controls the dashboard info display:

2010 Lexus RX 450h Steering Wheel Controls

The amount of information never ceases to amaze me—here are the available info screens in the RX 450h:

Lexus RX 450h Screen Options

The button beside the toggle switch adds a second level with access to vehicle features:

Lexus RX 450h Multi-Information Display

ECO mode modulates throttle response and temperature controls to improve fuel efficiency, and I’ve tried to make a habit to have it engaged—the effect on acceleration and the heating is obvious, but it does help in the gas mileage department. Sometimes you have to balance the good with the bad. Activating the Intuitive Parking Assist is a set-and-forget option, as is the Adaptive Front light System, but it’s a shame that the EV (all-electric) mode is buried in this menu rather than having its own dedicated button like the LSh & HSh.

The passenger side camera, activated by the “tea cup” button under the radio controls, is also extremely handy, and can be viewed from two different angles:

Lexus RX 450h Side Monitor 1

Lexus RX 450h Side Monitor 2

One of the biggest luxuries in the RXh is the radar cruise control, which makes long distance driving as close to an automated experience as I would feel comfortable with. Being able to digitally control your speed along with the distance between you and the vehicle ahead simplifies driving to the matter of a paddleshift and a button press, monitored via your trust dashboard display:

Lexus Radar Cruise Control

I’m really taken with the system, it does a great job at reducing highway stress.

(Still, there are some crazy people out there, which lead to a first-hand experience with the Active Safety system. After another driver swerved in front of me merging onto the highway, I heard a sharp beep and felt a deep response from the brakes along with what I thought was the seatbelt tightening. The RXh had me instantly prepared for a possible collision by amplifying my own reactions and reading the situation perfectly. Considering my expectation that the Active Safety system would feel intrusive and robotically harsh, I was especially impressed with its assistance.)

There’s been a weird learning curve with the Remote Touch controller:

Lexus Remote Touch

At first, I was impressed by the computer mouse interface, which feels obvious and intuitive—but after a few weeks, I started to feel frustrated and found myself wishing for a touchscreen instead. This went on for a week or so, and then my muscle memory kicked in and I came full-turn back around. Once those initial growing pains wear off, the Remote Touch system is so much better than a touchscreen—the controller placement feels natural in hand, and with its haptic feedback, it’s literally possible to navigate by touch. Whoever named the system hit the nail right on. My only complaint? There needs to be a BACK button on the controller.

The black interior is holding up, though it does tend to show the slightest dirt—a difficult situation when every single step outside is in a mixture of snow, salt and mud. On the plus side, the carpet mats and the interior are very easy to clean.

Rear storage room has yet to let me down—I picked up my in-laws’ new 40” LCD TV, and it was no problem at all:

Lexus RX 450h Cargo Room

My next task is to take some proper photos of the RXh exterior, but it’s proven difficult with the poor weather. My latest idea is to take photos while out and about doing errands and the such—I’m going to try that this week and see how it turns out.

Special thanks to Lexus Canada for providing me with this vehicle for the purpose of review. The RX 450h with the Ultra Luxury Package retails for $71,400CAD ($67,150USD).

Comments


Comments


  1. Thanks for the followup! Few other websites and magazines provide the necessary information.

    A couple questions:
    - Does the way the dash is designed make you feel like the Nav screen could be a little bigger?
    - Can you easily, simultaneously activate the cameras and the sensors for parking? I keep forgetting to check for this feature.
    - Are those guidelines I see through the side camera, or are they actual lines in a parking lot? I wish Lexus would offer guidelines that move with the steering wheel and maybe even work in conjunction with the parking sensors.

    Thought: That horn cover on the steering wheel is just dying to be covered with leather. I wonder if the LFA’s steering wheel had leather… its concepts did with the addition of visible stitching.

  2. Nice update Krew!  How are you finding the LED headlights are they indeed brighter?  Also, do you have an ipod, how do you find the integration with the Nav using USB and/or bluetooth?

    Is it me or the back taillights because its a hybrid and has the blue hue in them, look weird with the smokey granite…?

    Thanks!
    Joshd

  3. Great write up:

    to worldofluxury, those are the lines on the actual road. I too wished lexus did trajectory lines that move with the steering wheel (backup camera)

    I also have a question: When you noticed the precollision system activating, did you see the “BRAKE” on the head up display? maybe you didnt have that feature activated.

    Also, I have read that even at its shortest distance setting, the radar cruise still keeps you at a very far space behind a car. How are you feelings about that?

  4. @Joshd: The taillights due indeed have some blue accents, which are just as noticeable as the blue hue in the hybrid L-logos - very obvious at times and sometimes not at all.

    To add on to Joshd’ question, do you get the highest quality from the iPod through the iPod-specific adapter? what about Bluetooth?

    @Josh: and to add on to Josh’s questions, how much braking is applied with the precollision system? Did you get the sense that you have to quickly apply the brakes yourself before the system’s “assist” loses its ability to completely prevent a collision?
    ...and then… do you have to restart the adaptive cruise control? And does the adaptive cruise control let people leisurely cut in front of you without giving other drivers too much space?

  5. Thx for the insights and pics!!!

    There are quite a few gadgets on the RXh, quite a different driving experience really.

    Also, as far as the parking guidelines, Lexus vehicles to have them, but just not in the N. American market:

    2197017730_0428eabba3.jpg

  6. @Dan: Why?! So Toyota is less worried about their unintended acceleration and future lawsuits than they are about lawsuits against possible misinterpretation of the trajectory lines? misuse fully active adaptive cruise control and precollision?! I think Toyota is just misinterpreting us Americans.

  7. @WorldofLuxury:

    I have no definitive answer, but Europe got the navigation lockout removal option a while back, and the Active Headrests were introduced elsewhere because in the US they needed FCC approval (for who knows why, but that’s what CNN said). However, I’m quite certain they are worried most at the moment about the unintended acceleration, that’s why they’re adding the brake override, temporarily stopping sales, etc.

    Anyhow, back to the RXh, I’m glad to see all the gadgets migrate to more Lexus vehicles, provided they work with the line’s vaunted reliability.  The GX now has the Driver Monitoring System to boot, that’s previously only an LSh option.  Remote Touch, I agree could use a Back button, but still is pretty great.

    I’m wondering—how are the casual voice commands working out?

  8. WorldofLuxury:Does the way the dash is designed make you feel like the Nav screen could be a little bigger?

    Because of its position high in the dash, I think a bigger screen would be pretty distracting. I don’t find it small at all.

    WorldofLuxury:Can you easily, simultaneously activate the cameras and the sensors for parking? I keep forgetting to check for this feature.

    The Park Assist is always on, and doesn’t effect the camera.  I did find out today that putting the RXh in Snow mode means the cruise control won’t work.

    WorldofLuxury:Are those guidelines I see through the side camera, or are they actual lines in a parking lot?

    Lines in the parking lot.

    smile

  9. oh yeah a second question: I know ECO mode makes it so that you have to apply more pressure to the gas pedal to get the car moving. Does it feel exactly like snow mode? cause I know snow mode does the same in terms of pedal stiffness

  10. Joshd:Nice update Krew!  How are you finding the LED headlights are they indeed brighter?  Also, do you have an ipod, how do you find the integration with the Nav using USB and/or bluetooth?

    Is it me or the back taillights because its a hybrid and has the blue hue in them, look weird with the smokey granite…?

    The LED headlights are fantastic—the projected light is very clear, the only downside is that oncoming drivers think my brights are on. The headlight design is just so unusual, it’s my favorite part of the vehicle.

    The iPod integration is another story altogether, it’s in need of a software upgrade in the way it navigates the music library. Hard to describe, I should try recording it.

    There is a blue hue, but it’s super subtle and matches the blue L emblem, so it doesn’t look out of place.

    smile

  11. Josh:I also have a question: When you noticed the precollision system activating, did you see the "BRAKE" on the head up display? maybe you didnt have that feature activated.

    Did not notice that, but then I have the HUD set to a very low brightness. Hopefully I don’t see it any time soon! wink

    Josh:Also, I have read that even at its shortest distance setting, the radar cruise still keeps you at a very far space behind a car. How are you feelings about that?

    The shortest distance is 30m (98 ft.), then 40m (132 ft.), and the longest distance is 60m (197 ft.). I usually have it set to the longest distance, especially on the highway, as it makes it less likely that someone will cut right in front of you and cause the radar cruise to get all jerky slowing down and speeding up.

  12. @Dan: So back to the BMWs with their brake override. They seem to allow intentional use of both the brake pedal and accelerator, or else, they just don’t work at all… or weren’t turned on… or were optional. Anyways, I’m going to miss burnouts and safe, controlled drifts and doughnuts. crying Well, it looks like it’s time to restore my LS.

  13. Dan:I'm wondering—how are the casual voice commands working out?

    Funny you should ask—I’ve used the system sparingly so far, but I am planning to try a full week of using voice commands only. I wonder what my frustation level will be after seven days. LOL

  14. Josh:oh yeah a second question: I know ECO mode makes it so that you have to apply more pressure to the gas pedal to get the car moving. Does it feel exactly like snow mode? cause I know snow mode does the same in terms of pedal stiffness

    If anything, I would say that ECO mode lightens the gas pedal—it’s the acceleration where the sluggishness is felt. Snow mode does the exact opposite, it’s probably subliminal but I can really feel the AWD system when it’s activated. The pedal gets much more stiff.

  15. If I had the money I’d buy an RX faster than you could say “Dark Opal”. Love tha car!:-)

  16. Just wanted to share that I checked on my 2genRX, and I can activate snow mode and cruise control at the same time. lol

  17. Very nicely done, indeed.

  18. A very informative report from Krew! The interior build quality looks super & so does the wood trim adjacent to the controller (too bad there isn’t more wood). The exterior cameras are indispensible (& fun) one you’ve tried it.
    The GX460 has a world first - FOUR external cameras ! The 4th is below the driver’s side mirror & works only when the Multi-Terrain Select is switched on (So you can see the edge of the cliff you’re about to fall off !)
    @Krew :
    - Doesn’t the RX trip computer have elapsed time & current fuel cosump readouts like LS, GX etc ?
    - What do you think of the push-hold a/c ‘OFF’ switch ? Every other Lexus has a separate OFF button which I personally find very convenient. This is one of the biggest flaws in the RX for me.

  19. @WorldofLuxury: The LFA steering hub doesn’t have any visible stitching, so I’m guessing it isn’t leather. It seems only the rim where the driver grips the wheel has leather, the rest is carbon fiber/aluminum.