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2013 Lexus RX 450h offers new sport driving mode and driving assist features

The 2013 Lexus RX 450h refresh includes a new sport driving mode, and new driver assist system to maintain a safe following distance, all in a 30 miles/gallon luxury SUV.

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With the new Sport Mode, Lexus RX 450h owners can "fully exploit power train capabilities" while enjoying up to 30 miles/gallon fuel economy in this full hybrid luxury SUV. Toyota released, on Friday, details of the Lexus RX 450h revealing a luxury SUV that's better than ever, with new safety and driver assist features that should make for a safer driving experience.

“In 2005, the RX 400h was the world’s first luxury hybrid vehicle,” said Mark Templin, Lexus group vice president and general manager. “The new 2013 RX 450h will continue to be the segment leader as it has all the benefits of the industry’s most popular luxury utility vehicle, and Lexus Hybrid Drive.”

Engine, Transmission, Hybrid Drivetrain and Performance

The RX 450h is equipped with the Lexus Hybrid Drive system, with a 3.5-liter V6 Atkinson-cycle engine, offering 295 total system horsepower. The company claims that even though it is a V6 engine, it offers V8-like performance. The hybrid side of the vehicle has a 288V DC Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) battery pack, and a 123-kW electric motor-generator. That powerful of an electric motor surely plays a role in creating that "V8-like performance."

The vehicle carries the Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV) certification in California, meaning that it's pretty darn clean in terms of emissions. The Front Wheel Drive (FWD) RX 450h offers 32 mpg city, 28 mpg highway, 30 mpg combined fuel efficiency, while for the All-Wheel Drive (AWD) model it is 30 mpg city, 28 mpg highway, 29 mpg combined.

To assist in maintaining optimum fuel efficiency, an Eco driving indicator displays current fuel economy and alerts the driver when fuel efficiency falls off.

Acceleration is a respectable 7.8 seconds 0-60 mph for the front wheel drive RX 450h, and 7.4 seconds for the all wheel drive model.

The all wheel drive system uses a separate 50 kilwatt electric motor on the rear to provide power to the rear wheels when road conditions or throttle response dictates. The AWD system responds to road conditions by increasing rear-wheel torque when the front tires start to lose traction and vice versa. Additionally a SNOW mode slows the throttle response to reduce the chance of wheel spin.

Driving assist and safety features

Adding to the AWD system is a Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) system which adds steering assist torque for improved handling on surfaces with varying amounts of friction. The VSC is part of a Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) that includes the Anti-lock Braking System, Brake Assist (BA), Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Traction Control (TRAC). The VDIM coordinates these systems seamlessly to to make corrections in vehicle control in tricky driving situations.

An optional Pre-Collision System (PCS) with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control uses milimeter-wave radar to detect nearby vehicles on the road, and, for example, maintain a pre-set following distance from vehicles ahead.

The PCS can detect obstacles ahead, and analyze vehicle speed, steering angle and yaw-rate inputs to determine whether a collision is imminent. Upon detecting an upcoming collision, the system tightens seat belts and changes the brakes to increase braking as soon as the driver presses the pedal.

A Hill-start Assist Control feature automatically applies brake pressure while starting up on a hill, to prevent the RX 450h from rolling backward.

To reduce driver distraction and wasted movement, several features have been strategically placed close to the driver including the multi-information switch, the optional Remote Touch console-mounted navigation controller and the optional Heads-Up Display. The information display also shows video from the backup camera while the car is in reverse.

Luxury, Comfort and Convenience

A standard feature of the RX 450h is the SmartAccess key-less entry and pushbutton start system.

The 10-way power front seats provide seating comfort, and include power lumbar adjustment.

A smog sensor is available to detect harmful particles (CO, HC, NOx) in the outside air, and to automatically switch between fresh air and recirculation modes. Research has shown that some highways have heavy concentrations of pollution, which has cardiovascular effects, and that a filter can reduce these effects.

The navigation system features Lexus Enform with App Suite. App Suite uses the customers mobile smart phone to provide connectivity and information management. Local searches can be done using Bing, make restaurant reservations through OpenTable, get movie tickets via, receive internet radio station services like Pandora and iHeartRadio, view business reviews on Yelp, and check listings using Facebook Places. App Suite requires a subscription fee, and a one-year trial subscription comes with the RX 450h.

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