Lexus RX450h hybrid - 2012's facelift goes on saleMon, 21 May 2012
Lexus has refreshed its RX premium off-roader with a slew of new gadgets, a facelifted snout, a few small engineering upgrades and extra equipment.
Sold in the UK only as the RX450h hybrid, you'll spot the new 2012 edition by the addition of the Lexus 'spindle' grille, as seen on recent concept cars such as the LF-LC from Detroit 2012. The rear lamps are redesigned, too, although if you blink you may indeed actually miss them.
Inside there's a new steering wheel design and the Remote Touch controller - Lexus's take on a multi-function controller like BMW's iDrive - has been reworked so it operates more like a computer mouse, says Lexus. Earlier versions CAR tested could prove quite tricky to use on the move, as you point at different icons like with a WYSIWYG-style cursor. Not ideal at 70mph on the motorway.What else is new on the Lexus RX450h for 2012?
There's a new F Sport trim level, which has butched-up design details, such as a deeper front spoiler, 19in dark-finish alloys and a new mesh finish to the upper and lower grilles, plus a lateral damping system to improve the RX's ride and handling.
It replaces the usual fixed bracing struts across the bonnet with a new lateral damper attached to the two suspension towers; by flexing the damping rate, it can effectively stiffen the car's structure of soften depending on the requirements of the ECU, which monitors the body's torsional stiffness, flex and vibrations.
Result? The facelifted 2012 Lexus RX should have greater structural integrity when you need it, and soften up when you want to cruise in Lexus's finest tradition.
And a new Sport mode for the hybrid system can be selected on the drive mode on the steering wheel, sharpening the throttle and electric power steering responses. The dials glow menacingly red when in Sport mode. (Note to Lexus: please don't chase BMW's dynamic mores - we like the gentler, wafty nature of Lexus!)How much does the Lexus RX cost?
Prices start at £44,495 and new-look cars are in UK dealers now.
Every Lexus RX450h gets extra equipment, including LED daytime running lights on SE models, a DVD player and DAB digital radio on the Luxury models and a head-up display for top-trim F Sport and Premier models.
By Tim Pollard