2012 RX 350 New Car Test Drive
First launched as a 1999 model, the Lexus RX was most recently redesigned and re-engineered for 2010. Changes since have been minimal. Most significantly, the 2012 RX 350 has been tuned to run on regular unleaded (87 octane) fuel. Premium (91 octane) is recommended for the 2012 RX 450h.
(For 2013, Lexus RX models will feature revised styling and new interior materials. The 2013 RX is expected to go on sale summer 2012. The 2013 version won't be that much different from the 2012 except in terms of its appearance.)
The 2012 Lexus RX 350 and RX 450h are easy to operate and ride more softly than other SUVs. They're also more fuel-efficient than many of their competitors.
Powered by a 3.5-liter V6 mated to a 6-speed automatic multi-mode transmission, the RX 350 beats the fuel economy ratings of the Acura MDX, Mercedes ML 350, and BMW X5 xDrive3.5i. The RX 450h hybrid gets better mileage yet, and achieves a Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (SULEV II) certification in California, and a Tier 2-Bin 3 emissions rating in all other states.
The 2012 RX 350 and RX 450h are offered with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The RX 350 uses a light-weight all-wheel-drive system that operates through an electronic coupling on the rear differential, eliminating the need for a center differential. The RX 450h uses an electric motor to drive the rear wheels so no mechanical connection between the axles is needed.
The 2012 Lexus RX 350 comes with front-wheel drive ($39,075) or all-wheel drive ($40,475). The RX 450h offers the same choice of front-drive ($45,235) or all-wheel drive ($46,825) and comes with a bit more standard equipment, which is why some of the option packages listed below cost less for the Hybrid than for the standard RX 350. Both come with fabric upholstery, automatic dual-zone climate control, AM/FM/6CD with nine speakers and a luxury level of standard equipment.
The optional Luxury Package includes semi-aniline leather trim interior; one-touch-open/close Moonroof; Power Retractable Electrochromic Outside Mirrors; Wood and Leather Steering Wheel and Shift Knob; Wide Angle Side-View Monitor, 19-inch Alloy wheels with Mud and Snow Tires; iPod/USB port; Power Rear Door; Illuminated Scuff Plate; and Headlamp Cleaner. The Comfort Package includes bi-xenon high intensity discharge (HID) projector headlamps; adaptive front lighting system; automatic high beams; rain-sensing automatic wipers; 12-speaker audio; and heated and cooled front seats.
Dual-Screen Rear Seat Entertainment with Navigation ($5,005) includes DVD rear-seat entertainment system with wireless headphones, audio/video inputs, 120V AC power outlet and navigation system with voice command, backup monitor, XM Nav Traffic and Nav Weather with 90-day trial subscription and Remote Touch controller.
Options include a Heads-Up Display ($1200), Heated/Ventilated Front Seats ($640), 19-inch Aluminum Alloy Wheels with Mud and Snow Tires ($660), and Bi-Xenon High Intensity Discharge Headlamps with AFS and Automatic High Beams ($875). Mark Levinson Audio ($1610) and Intuitive Parking Assist ($500) are also available as stand-alone options. The Navigation System option ($2465) includes Hard Disc Drive Navigation with voice command, Backup Monitor, XM Nav Traffic and Nav Weather with 90-day trial subscription, and the Remote Touch controller. The Sports Package ($1300) includes 19-inch Sport finish alloy wheels with mud and snow tires, sport-tuned suspension, and Vehicle Dynamic Management (VDIM). The Sports Package is not available on the Hybrid; but then only Hybrid buyers can choose energy-saving LED headlamps ($1825), which come with washers, AFS, and intelligent high beams.
Safety equipment includes front airbags; front-seat mounted side airbags; roll-sensing front and rear side-curtain air bags; driver and front passenger knee airbags and side airbags; active headrests for front seats; force-limiting seatbelt pre-tensioners for driver and front passenger seats; three-point seatbelts with pre-tensioners for all rear seating positions (3); direct-type tire pressure monitoring system; four-sensor, four-channel anti-lock brake system (ABS) with Brake Assist; enhanced VSC (Vehicle Stability Control). Optional safety features include Pre-collision System and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) comes with the Sports Package. Like all Lexus vehicles, the 2012 Lexus RX comes with Smart Stop Technology, which automatically reduces engine power when the brake and accelerator pedals are applied simultaneously under certain driving conditions.