Tony O'Kane | Nov 21, 2008

Lexus has taken the wraps off its all-new RX-series SUV lineup, which now receives a new range of redesigned engines, suspension hardware, interior equipment and a redesigned body.

Going on sale from the first quarter of 2009, the RX 350 gets a slightly improved 3.5 litre petrol V6 engine, which now produces 204kW - one kiloWatt more than the current model.

The RX 450h, on the other hand, develops 220kW from its 3.5 litre Atkinson-cycle V6 and electric assistance motor, some 20kW more than the current RX 400h.

Both models put their power down to all four wheels, however the hybrid RX 450h differs from the RX 350 in that power delivery to the rear wheels is accomplished by the electric motor alone.

The petrol-only RX 350 uses a more traditional slip-sensing centre differential, which only takes torque to the rear when the front wheels lose traction.

The current RX350's five-speed automatic has been ditched in favour of a more sophisticated six-speed electronically-controlled sequential transmission.

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Both RX 450h and RX350 get a redesigned double-wishbone rear suspension, which improves agility and stability and also comes with the added bonus of improving interior space in the rear by 22 litres.

The front suspension system is still of a MacPherson strut design, however the geometry has been tweaked for the 2009 model.

The RX's sheetmetal is now more muscular and high-shouldered, but there's still an unmistakable visual link between it and its predecessor.

Underneath the RX lies a new undertray design, which helps cut the car's coefficient of drag to just 0.32 - an admirable figure for such a big, tall vehicle.

The hybrid 450h gets a new grille, front bumper, tinted tail lamps, LED-equipped headlamps and different badging to differentiate it from its petrol-chugging sister, but other than that there's little external difference between the two models.

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Inside is where the greatest changes have been made. The dashboard is a completely new, more driver-centric design, while Lexus has introduced its brand-new Remote Touch control system for the navigation system.

The Lexus Remote Touch system resembles a large computer mouse and is designed to allow the driver to program the nav system without having to drop his or her eyes down to the controller itself.

This, combined with the steering wheel-mounted controls, side and rear-view cameras and optional heads-up display, promises to make piloting the new RX a far less demanding task.

Vehicle Dynamic Integrated Management control (let's call it stability control, shall we?) and Lexus's Pre-Collision System help keep the RX out of the weeds.

In the event of a crash, a full complement of 10 airbags should help keep occupants in one piece.

The all-new RX 350 and RX 450h will be on sale in Australia from the start of next year onward, with the RX 350 arriving in Lexus showrooms in the first quarter of next year and the RX450h hybrid landing on our shores three months later.

Pricing has yet to be announced, but we'll keep you informed as that information comes to hand.

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