Car Review Lexus RX 350 Adds iDrive (But Easy to Use) Mobile Geek com

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Lexus RX Electric Cars

Deal of the Day

The 2010 Lexus RX 350 and RX 450h Hybrid now have a controller like BMW s iDrive but the Remote Touch controller is simple to use. Remote is the technology highlight of the third of Lexus midsize luxury along with an impressive system, iPod integration, navigation, and a hybrid version will account for one in five RX

Lexus Remote Touch the previous-generation touchscreen display and a force-feedback joystick rather the control wheel employed by BMW Audi (MMI), Mercedes-Benz as well as Honda/Acura, Hyundai, and Force feedback means when the joystick pointer an object on the 8-inch onscreen the pointer snaps to the selection.

Touch is idiot-proof. The controller has a big with a short, joystick-like pad at the front. (It looks like you re around a squarish, leather-capped more than a tall stalk.) Push to slide the where you want to go, press the button on the left or right of the palm rest, then and click again to fine-tune selection. Even as BMW s latest on the 3 Series and 7 Series has become simple to use, Remote is simpler still for navigating the

Lexus says it added $2,000 in additional features and the base price by $900, to (including freight) for the front-drive, Lexus RX 350. Such a The hybrid (Lexus RX 450h) hasn t been set, but if it the form of the previous models, may be that payback in fuel will be in the range of 6 to 10 years.

One Big to Remote Touch (Not Buttons)

Remote Touch has a drawback: no fixed-function buttons than Menu and Map, at the very front of the controller right). With iDrive or you press a button to jump to the functions you do all the time: navigation, CD/iPod, radio/satellite radio.

Remote Touch, you have to to the function you want by pressing scrolling to the selection, then Select. It s only a couple each time and Lexus may say buttons equals less for users. But anyone who s used an or BMW will quickly conclude Remote Touch 1.0 is needlessly

Once you re past the first iDrive takes more to manipulate, but it s no longer the horror you heard about five ago. And once you ve really iDrive, it s faster than Touch, but a lot of people never iDrive. The clear advantage for the majority of American drivers with Remote Touch.

s even a Display button on the so you can quickly adjust screen without going multiple layers deep.

Even the shortage of function buttons right), Remote Touch is the one controller that makes feel comfortable the first they sit in the car. I suspect two will happen within 2-3 to change how controllers are deployed in

Other automakers will beefy joystick controllers. And not the wobble-stick joysticks employed on small cars. A useful is big and it s mounted on a horizontal, not vertical where you can rest your Audi, BMW, and Mercedes spent almost a decade control wheels sort-of-workable.

The Genesis controller is also easy to use in its first iteration. made a joystick work the first time. For most it s more intuitive to use a joystick to a pointer around the screen a control wheel that now has a joystick-like function (because it t look like a joystick).

will likely add more function buttons: navigation, iPod, radio, and back than joystick-scrolling to a back along with the current and map keys. If nothing else, swipe the BMW design (photo, which is nearly perfect as far as the placement, and shape of buttons Right now, Lexus fewer fixed-function buttons are better because of less clutter.

That was the tune BMW from 2002 to 2008 bowing to the wisdom of the Audi MMI of controller plus key fixed-function

Driving Impressions

I drove Lexus RX 350 and RX 450 Hybrid models at a press launch. Both are luxurious, quiet, and comfortable to in and ride in. The styling is a known and utterly inoffensive. Front comfort is excellent. Short and passengers will like there s an optional that the seat cushion to adjust for

Back seat passengers find passable legroom and the seat cushions were an or two higher, and that s the same as on most mid-to-large SUVs. being the smallest of the Lexus SUV (RX, GX, LX), there s no row.

Little touches the 2010 RX models better. The LCD display (no longer touchscren) or monochrome display on non-navigation is now at the top of the center stack and deeply The rear suspension is a double-wishbone something associated with sports cars rather soft-riding Lexuses, but it s more intrudes less into the area, and improves rear capacity (which remains by the raked rear roofline). The transmission is now six not five speeds top gear effectively overdrive to the old transmission.

Power steering is not hydraulic and saves 3% on gas mileage, says, and if there s less feel transmitted to the steering that s not a big issue to a Lexus Headlamps are auto-dimming; steerable headlamps are available. A hill-start control (HAC) feature the car from slipping back on

A big cutout under the console, on both sides, is the perfect to stash a purse, and helps why women flock to the Lexus RX: 60% of the are women, a figure Lexus to equalize; it also wants to get the buyer age down from the 58.

The already dazzling main in the instrument panel are lit by OLEDs LEDs, photo above). brake and license plate are LED (oddly, tail lamps and signals still use traditional bulbs). The airbag count is up to 10 the addition of second row side The rear entertainment system now two headrest-mount LCDs rather a single overhead drop-down.

The spoiler is now standard, so the rear mounts there, where it can t be by car wash brushes. The two water cutouts in the center console don t with passenger operation of Touch, something Mercedes-Benz t master with its latest of the Comand controller in the C-Class (admittedly a smaller vehicle).

A BMW X5 or MDX is more fun to drive, slightly and in BMW s case about $10,000 costly, but Lexus outsells its competitor, BMW, by more 2-1, which suggests better understands the American More people want a ride and friendly dealers an SUV that can confidently lap the Nurburgring At least Lexus now offers an RX 350 package for those who want a pillowy ride.

Lexus RX 450h Hybrid

The RX 450h is a fine car to drive and a lot of sense for the environment and for fuel if most of your driving is town. The hybrid components all been made smaller, or more efficient. It s rated an 30 mpg city, 27 mpg highway, and 28 mpg overall, are big improvements over the all-wheel-drive RX 350 s 18 24 highway, 19 overall. City is twice that of gas-engine BMW, Lincoln, and Mercedes-Benz The RX 450h uses an Atkinson engine, a gasoline engine for efficiency.

The old Lexus hybrid a more traditional gasoline engine.

Hybrid pricing t been set. The outgoing RX 400h listed at $42,080, $4,000 over the gasoline The Lexus RX 450h will the RX 350 gasoline model by about months, meaning first in early summer. You ll have to do own calculations to see if the RX 450h hybrid, no how desirable, makes dollars and with no federal tax credits for hybrids any more.

It may be you ll need to buy on that you re doing something for the environment, not necessarily for your cost of ownership.

If there s a price premium for the hybrid, you d about seven years to get money back assuming you 12,000 miles a year and fuel costs $2.50 a The hybrid s fuel savings be $471 a year. But if you own a Lexus RX and are lucky enough to see premium cost $3.50 a gallon, you d save $600 a year and get the back in five years.

If the premium is $4,000, you d need 9.3 ($2.50 a gallon) or 6.7 years a gallon).

Lexus RX 350, RX Features

Here are some new or impressed on the Lexus RXs, of for those who appreciate technology, technology that isn t just for s sake:

Active cruise control Lexus calls it a Pre-Collision (PCS) with Dynamic Cruise Control ($1,500). In traffic, this cruise paces the car ahead at one of three distances. It also warns you to in the event of an impending collision.

costlier ACC systems are stop-and-go; one cuts out below 20 mph because the can t track at close following While Lexus offers (ACC) and rear (parking force fields for safety, the RX don t offer blind sport or lane departure warning, are relatively cheap to implement.

display (HUD). This display ($1,200) places the crucial information in a small window that appears to just over the front of the hood. You get your current a navigation arrow as you approach a and some basic audio

It s useful but other HUDs, BMW s, provides more information a multi-color (but not full HUD. Here s one example the Lexus HUD falls short on The audio system passes and the HUD displays the track number iPod is playing but not the name of the With satellite radio, it along the channel number but not the name or song name.

by-the-way calls it a heads-up . which should elicit notes from pilots who out that it s head-up display . So there.

Lexus RX Electric Cars

iPod adapter. It s all but offered on the most basic of the RX 350 s packages. (That said, it be universally standard, as Bluetooth A USB jack in the center console with a line-in jack and two outlets) allows virtually any containing device to be controlled the Remote Touch controller. I some audio menus and poorly thought out, but the experience is still better using a line-in jack and the iPod by hand.

XM satellite now comes standard and you can order levels of premium audio a Mark Levinson-branded system.

It comes standard and works There s both Bluetooth for phone and Bluetooth for streaming

I m not sure I get the audio Bluetooth it won t allow you to control your or recharge it, but what the heck.

Navigation package. Lexus it with a backup camera, drive, a CD changer, 12-speaker audio, improved voice and XM NavTraffic and XM NavWeather, for $2,550. (Or in costlier options packages.) Denso navigation system is and more responsive; in recent Denso systems went technology leader to laggard to again. Now, my only are the lack of useful split modes (say, audio in one navigation in another), the failure of the display to pop up over another (say, audio) when a turn approaches, and Lexus t-sue-us nervousness that them lock out some features while moving if there s a passenger aboard. voice input does let you a destination while moving, at For display flexibility, Infiniti s system remains the gold

Because there s so much here, it s hard to get a sense of the overall price is reasonable the best Garmin portable are less than $1,000 and portable navigation devices are Also, if you opt for all three XM services, it s $24 a and the $5 a month imputed to traffic is shaky (I believe), since the best traffic info to be wrong about half the That s creeping up from the $10 a you initially paid for standalone radio.

Wide view monitor. A down-facing camera in the side mirror projects a view as you re easing into or out of a space. Infiniti s three-camera View system is cooler and but this is almost as useful.

key. Keyless entry and are standard. On some cars, s a $500-$1,000 option.

Lexus the tradition of big options packages, you may have to take options you don t to get ones you do. There s a Navigation with Additional Options bundles, for $6,818, the navigation/camera with the first level of audio, a smog sensor (it on climate control recirculation), alloy wheels, heated and seats, and a towing prep Do you see a common thread among the

Me neither. Also: The Lexus shows some standalone that aren t available you actually go to configure a car. It be the site is still sorting out, or I m not smart enough to use the

Or that you may need to go see a Lexus to configure the RX 350 you want.

Bottom Lexus RX as the SUV to Beat

The Lexus RX 350 is not the for driving twisty back It is a superb choice, for those who can a vehicle selling for $45,000-$50,000, for luxurious, comfortable, and entertaining and long-distance travel. Two adults and two who pack light can go anywhere in an RX 350 or RX 450 (The rear cargo remember, is not that big, and the seat is okay not luxurious for because of the low seat height.) The Touch joystick means can now work a navigation system, not those who spend hours over the manual and memorizing patterns before inserting the key. You d be hard-pressed to go wrong the new Lexus.

For the third time, the RX is the midsize luxury SUV benchmark for to match.

Lexus RX 350, RX450h

Price: $37,625 $$39,025 all-wheel-drive (includes freight). Lexus RX 450h TBA 2009).

EPA economy: RX 350, 18 mpg 24 highway, 20 combined (premium). RX 30 city, 27 highway, and 28 combined.

Best-yet way to control an LCD display Touch joystick). Useful new Standard Bluetooth, nearly iPod adapter.

Cons: of fixed-function buttons to speed up access to Remote Touch Some onscreen menus Website pretty but build-your-own work.

Bottom line: hits another home run the third generation RX. Remote is the most effective cockpit yet (but not perfect). Price of hybrid RX 450h over RX if similar to the old RXs, may not make economic sense for the first

Lexus RX Electric Cars
Lexus RX Electric Cars
Lexus RX Electric Cars

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