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.

Lexus USA December 2008 Sales Report

Lexus Logo

The sales for Lexus USA’s last month of 2008 are in, and it wasn’t exactly a December to Remember. Here are the model-by-model numbers:

2008 2007 % Change
IS250/350/F 3,539 5,651 -37.4
ES350 5,236 8,005 -34.6
GS350/460/450h 1,200 2,579 -53.5
SC430 116 348 -66.7
LS460/600h L 1,451 3,257 -55.4
Total Cars 11,542 19,840 -41.8
RX350/400h 9,932 11,835 -16.1
GX470 1,380 2,748 -49.8
LX570 508 132 284.8
Total Trucks 11,820 14,715 -19.7
Total Sales 23,362 34,555 -32.4

A couple things I noticed right away: sales of the LS are nervously low & sales of the RX are extremely high.

With the LS, my reaction is tempered because I know it’s the most expensive car in the lineup, but the design is less than two years old and sales are down sharply. It’s no wonder a facelift is expected this year, and the introduction of an LS-Sport (which I’ve had confirmed by A++ sources) makes a whole lot of sense. Something needs to be done.

Compare that with the RX, which saw the smallest drop despite the fact it’s being replaced by a brand-new model in February. There might have been some impetus to get rid of the outgoing RX’s, but the sales surprised me.

And how did Lexus do over the full year? That’s up next…

[Source: Lexus]

2010 Lexus ES 350?

2010 Lexus ES 350

It looks like the rumor of a 2010 Lexus ES facelift is right on the mark, as blogger Vince Burlapp has posted a blurry photo of an ES with a revised front-end.

The headlight treatment does seem a little derivative, but I really like the new grille. It has a strong, unique look, especially when you consider the current design.

There is a possibility this image is fake, but I’m inclined to believe it real. In fact, I’ve been told the new grille would resemble the LF-Xh, and that certainly holds up here.

One last interesting thing — there seems to be a blue tint to the Lexus logo. An ES hybrid, perhaps?