CNet Previews the 2010 Lexus RX 450h

2010 Lexus RX 450h in Red

CNet has published their take on the 2010 Lexus RX 450h, and it includes a more critical look at the new Remote Touch controller:

Along with the voice command, Lexus updated the controller, using a square joystick on the console to control an onscreen cursor…you can change the settings for the cursor, choosing a different shape and giving more haptic feedback when you move the cursor over a menu item, but the joystick doesn’t feel very solid. Worse, it doesn’t snap back into its center position when you move it around, which gives it a cheap feeling. Another oddity of this interface is that, when you have a fixed number of icons on the screen, you can still move the cursor all over the place.

It would be very easy to argue that all of this points were positive rather than negative, but it’s hard to make a real call until it’s used firsthand.

(Another thing: It’s no Ultrasonic Blue, but this red isn’t all that flattering.)

[Source: CNet]

Lexus Enform: The New In-Car Telematics Service

Lexus Enform Logo

Lexus has announced Lexus Enform, their replacement for Lexus Link in-car service. Referred to as a telematics service, this integrated system will be introduced with the new 2010 Lexus RX and adds a new layer of convenience and utility.

There are the expected features, outlined here:

  • Automatic Collision Notification (ACN): Safety Connect’s ACN will help drivers receive the necessary response from emergency teams. In the event of either an airbag deployment or a severe rear-end collision; the response center will be automatically notified via embedded cellular technology and GPS.
  • Stolen Vehicle Location (SVL): Safety Connect subscribers will be able to rely on an extra level of security in the event that their vehicle is stolen. If this should happen, Safety Connect will assist in tracking the location of the stolen vehicle using the vehicle’s GPS.
  • Emergency Assistance Button (SOS)All Safety Connect–enabled vehicles will come equipped with an SOS button, with the call center’s 24-hour emergency assistance only a press away.
  • Roadside Assistance: Call center agents will help drivers receive aid for a wide range of needs, such as towing, jump start, flat tire, fuel delivery, etc. With this service, drivers will not need to rely on additional membership organizations for roadside coverage to help them get back on the road.

On top of this, Lexus will also be offering some more unique services:

Continue reading this article…

Edmunds Previews the 2010 Lexus RX 350

2010 Lexus RX 350

The second in what’s bound to be an absolute torrent, Edmunds has posted their 2010 Lexus RX preview. Like Popular Mechanics, Edmunds liked the new driving feel, but they were more impressed with the new Remote Touch:

Our experience with iDrive, COMAND and MMI tells us that Remote Touch will be more cumbersome than using a touchscreen. But between the ergonomic controller, a responsive QWERTY onscreen keyboard and our two decades of mousing experience, it’s actually quicker — a lot quicker.

And, as the first example of a truly user-friendly remote-control interface, Remote Touch might be the most important innovation on the redesigned 2010 Lexus RX 350.

I’m sure every one of Lexus’ competitors is giving the evil eye to their R&D departments — this new controller seems so obvious. People use computer mice every day, surely it would also work well in the car, right?

Edmunds also brings up some interesting points about the RX’s weight gain:

We’re also not exactly sure how the 2010 Lexus RX 350 put on so much weight in this redesign. The front-wheel-drive RX 350 now weighs in at 4,340 pounds, a gain of 470 pounds. The all-wheel-drive RX 350 weighs 4,510 pounds, a gain of 420 pounds.

Somehow the 2010 Lexus RX 350 carries all its extra pounds with grace. It’s also just as quick as the 2009 RX 350 when you lay into the gas pedal. And fuel economy is actually a little better. Although the redesigned RX has a lower 0.33 coefficient of drag (compared to 0.35 in 2009), we’re still amazed that the Lexus engineers pulled this off.

Now that’s some serious engineering. Adding 400lbs. and improving fuel economy is exceptional, especially considering that the engine is the same (albeit tweaked).

This will certainly be one of the better previews of the RX, it’s in-depth and certainly worth a read. Highly recommended.

(Thanks Jarrett!)

First Test Drive of the 2010 Lexus RX

2010 Lexus RX450h

Popular Mechanics has published the first journalist test drive of the new 2010 Lexus RX, which reveals a surprising side to the SUV:

Based on a car-like platform, the RX drives with reassuring stability. The electric power steering has been recalibrated to lose the somewhat digital on/off feel afflicting most Toyota/Lexus systems and now provides all the delicate precision one wants from a premium SUV.

With luxury and refinement being such a Lexus characteristic, it’s tempting to ignore the driving-pleasure side of the equation. But the new RX is fast and remarkably agile for a 4500-pound (in AWD spec) leather-lined luxury crossover. Or, in the case of the RX450h hybrid model, a 4800-pound high-tech luxury vehicle.

I don’t know if it’s hyperbole or what, but I certainly wasn’t expecting anyone to be talking about the “driving-pleasure” of the new RX, especially with the new electronic power steering (EPS) system, which reduces the steering effort of the driver. And yet, combine the EPS with a new trailing-arm double-wishbone rear suspension and a new transmission, and maybe it shouldn’t be so surprising after all.

[Source: Popular Mechanics]

Lexus USA 2008 Year-End Sales Report

Lexus Logo

It feels like the only automotive topic left, but the slumping automotive sector certainly left its mark on Lexus USA’s 2008 sales, dropping 21.2% compared to 2007. Here are the year-end totals:

2008 2007 % Change
IS250/350 49,432 54,933 -10.3
ES350 64,135 82,867 -22.9
GS350/460/450h 15,759 23,381 -32.8
SC430 1,986 3,927 -49.6
LS460/600h L 20,255 35,226 -42.7
Total Cars 151,567 200,334 -24.6
RX350/400h 84,181 103,340 -18.8
GX470 16,424 23,035 -28.9
LX570 7,915 2,468 219.7
Total Trucks 108,520 128,843 -16.0
Total Sales 260,087 329,177 -21.2

The 219.7% increase in LX sales is quite possibly the greatest single anomaly in 2008 US auto sales. Both the Nissan Rogue & the Audi A5 saw bigger percentage jumps, but then again, both vehicles were introduced during 2007, and neither is a 6,000lb. monster-SUV. Depending on the actual sales margins, the super-selling LX could have made the 21.2% overall drop a little more bearable.

Another thing, could the new RX model be any more important? In 2008, the outgoing SUV made up 32% of all Lexus sales! If the reasoning behind the evolutionary design of the upcoming 2010 RX wasn’t clear before, it should be crystal now.

It’s hard to look on the bright side of such a poor year, but Lexus still managed to retain its position as the top-selling luxury car manufacturer in USA, besting BMW by 10,974 total units. It was certainly a tight race right up there until the end, and if the 1-series (only 12,018 sold) and the X6 (4,548 sold) had done even slightly better, it wouldn’t have been a contest.