2010 Lexus RX Review and Prices

Last Updated: Aug 5, 2011

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2010 Lexus RX Buying Advice

The 2010 Lexus RX is the best car for you if you want to experience the SUV that invented its own market category, and discover why it’s still the finest example of a premium midsize crossover.  

The 2010 Lexus RX is an extensively refreshed edition of a crossover SUV last redesigned for model-year 2004. It returns as the 2010 Lexus RX 350 and as the gas-electric hybrid 2010 Lexus 450h. The 2010 RX grows slightly and has evolutionary new styling, but remains a five-passenger wagon available with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (AWD).

Advances in power and features are relatively modest, and the 2010 RX’s styling has already come under fire for being too derivative – some critics say it looks (horrors!) like a Hyundai. If the 2010 Lexus RX does look a little like a Hyundai Veracruz, it’s because those South Korean stylists know an upscale SUV when they copy one. Indeed, every Lexus RX dating back to the first in 1998 has set the standard for elegant, almost feminine, understatement in this class. Some rivals broadcast their performance aspirations with flamboyant shapes. The RX delivers the refined driving experience its styling promises.

2010 Lexus RX Changes back to top

Styling: The new sheet metal is hardly exciting, though compared to the 2009 RX, the 2010 does look smoother, with more shoulder in the fenders, a slight droop to the nose, and nicely raked-back headlamps. The 2010 RX 450h hybrid, by the way, gets its own slightly different grille and front bumper, plus hybrid badging and blue-trimmed Lexus logos. Dimensionally, the 2010 Lexus RX’s body is about an inch and a half longer and wider than the 2009 model’s. Wheelbase -- the distance between front and rear axles -- is an inch longer, but at 107.9 inches, is still among the shortest in this class. That helps maneuverability, but doesn’t maximize passenger room. A redesigned rear suspension creates a lower rear load floor and helps increase cargo volume by 5 percent, to 38.3 cubic feet behind the rear seat and to 84.7 with the rear seat folded down. Curb weight is unchanged at 3,500 pounds.            

Mechanical: Like most crossover SUVs, the Lexus RX is based on front-wheel-drive car-type structure. The 2010 RX 350 retains a 3.5-liter V-6 -- that’s where “350” in the name comes from – and gains five horsepower, to 275. The transmission advances to a six-speed automatic from a five-speed and it includes a separate gate for manual shifting. The “450” in RX 450h is Lexus’s way of suggesting this hybrid duplicates the performance of a 4.5-liter engine; the “h” stands for hybrid. Here’s where the 2010 RX sees its biggest gains in power and technology. The hybrid exchanges a 3.3-liter V-6 for a 3.5-liter and gets more-efficient electric-drive components. The result is a combined 295 horsepower, 27 more than the 2009 RX 400h. As before, the RX hybrid runs on gas or electric power exclusively or in combination, depending on fuel-economy and performance demands. Most fuel savings come from using electric-power propulsion at low speeds and from shutting off the gas engine when the vehicle is stopped. Lexus says the 2010 RX 450h can idle its gas engine more often and for longer periods than before. The hybrid’s transmission is a continuously variable automatic (CVT) that dispenses with traditional gears in favor of rheostat-like conduction. AWD versions of the RX 450h power the rear wheels with a separate electric motor as needed. The RX450h requires no plug-in charging.      

Features: Most features new to the 2010 Lexus RX aim to enhance driver convenience. The highlight is the Remote Touch controller, a sort of leather-covered computer mouse perched just left of the center console. It’s included with the navigation system and governs mapping, climate, audio, communications, and more. Uniquely, it responds to inputs with tactile feedback and allows Lexus to mount the display monitor quite near the windshield, in the driver’s line of sight, a location incompatible with a touch screen. The navigation system now incorporates Bluetooth wireless phone connectivity and can accept casual-language commands. USB MP3 and iPod linking is also available. The headlights can turn to anticipate by three seconds where the RX is headed thanks to the new Intelligent Adaptive Front-lighting System. Among standard features are dual-zone automatic climate control, 10-way power front seats, and wood interior trim. Also included is a wood/leather steering wheel with audio and trip-computer controls. Various option packages incorporate a Mark Levinson-brand audio system, dual-screen rear-seat DVD entertainment, dynamic radar cruise control, and a Sports Package with a sport-tuned suspension. Among the 10 standard airbags are driver- and front-passenger knee airbags. The available Pre-Collision System uses radar to anticipate an unavoidable frontal crash, then cinches seatbelts and primes the brakes for quicker stopping.

2010 Lexus RX Prices back to top

The 2010 Lexus RX 350 is priced at $37,625 for the front-wheel-drive model (base prices listed here include the manufacturer’s mandated $825 destination fee). The 2010 RX 350 with all-wheel-drive starts at $39,025. (Lexus has not yet released prices for the 2010 RX 450h, which goes on sale some months after the RX 350.) Major options for the RX 350 include a $4,980 navigation/DVD group and a $4,800 Luxury Package with upgraded leather upholstery, power tailgate, and other items. The navigation system is available separately at $2,440 and includes a backup camera. The $2,400 Premium Package adds leather upholstery, power moonroof and tailgate, seat memory, and heated mirrors. A head-up display that projects key instrument readouts onto the windshield is $1,200, heated and cooled front seats are $640.

2010 Lexus RX Fuel Economy back to top

EPA mileage estimates for 2010 models were not released in time for this report, but based on 2009 ratings, a 2010 Lexus RX 350 ought to achieve something like 19/25 mpg (city/highway) with front-wheel drive and 18/24 with AWD. The 2010 RX 450h should be around 28/25 and 27/25 with AWD. Both models will likely require premium-octane gas.

2010 Lexus RX Release Date back to top

The 2010 RX 350 goes on sale in February 2009. The 2010 RX 450h hits dealerships nationwide in spring 2009.

2010 Lexus RX Competition back to top

Acura MDX: Base prices are on the high side at $41,000-$49,000, but many features for which rivals charge extra are standard, including AWD, leather upholstery, heated front seats with memory, sunroof, and the like. The MDX is priced about the same as a similarly equipped Lexus RX, but delivers a sportier driving experience, more extroverted styling inside and out, and three-row seating for seven. It’s a spicier crossover from a brand with customer-satisfaction ratings rivaling those of Lexus.

2010 Cadillac SRX: If you know anything about Cadillac’s oddball car-based SUV, forget it. The 2010 SRX is a crossover of a different color. Small, lighter, and prettier, it has seats for five instead of seven and a choice of three V-6 engines instead of one V-6 and one V-8. Cadillac makes no secret that in price, performance, and posh, the redesigned and refocused 2010 SRX aims directly for the 2010 Lexus RX. 

Infiniti EX35: This impressive newcomer stands out for base prices in the $33,000-$37,000 range and for an edgy, urban attitude. Introduced as a 2008 model, the EX35 is based on a rear-wheel-drive layout and is available with AWD. A 297-horsepower V-6 and a tight suspension make it entertaining on the road and high-grade cabin materials make it luxurious. If you don’t need family-sized rear seating, this is an SUV you ought to sample.

2010 Lexus RX Next Steps