The 2012 Lexus RX 450h AWD comes equipped with a part-time AWD system, which adjusts torque to each wheel for optimal traction in all types of road conditions. In normal driving situations, the system sends power only to the front wheels, but when it detects slippage, it redirects torque to all 4 wheels. It channels power from a Hybrid Drive system, which combines a 3.5-liter Atkinson-cycle V6 engine with 2 electric motors and a compact 288-volt nickel metal hydride (Ni-MH) battery pack. On its own, the V6 engine produces 245 hp and 234 lb-ft of torque, but when the electric motors kick in, total horsepower jumps to 295. The hybrid system also includes an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission with intelligence (ECVT-i), which features Snow and manual-shift Sequential modes. Fuel economy numbers check in at 30 mpg city/28 highway. Safety features include 10 airbags and a Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management program, which monitors and integrates the stability control, traction control, antilock brake, brake assist and hill assist systems.
Outside, the RX 450h receives a new Nebula Gray Pearl exterior color, which is its only update for 2012. The RX 450h AWD displays athletic exterior styling, with a rounded nose, aerodynamic lines, subtly concaved sides, pronounced fender flares and a sweptback roofline. It also gets a unique silver grille and front bumper, which distinguish it from the gas-powered RX. Other standard exterior features include a shark-fin antenna, side mirrors with integrated LED turn signals, a rear spoiler and 18-inch aluminum wheels. Inside the quiet cabin, the 5-passenger RX 450h comes well-equipped with such standard features as 10-way power-adjustable front seats, Espresso birds-eye maple or brown walnut wood trim, dual-zone automatic climate control and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. A 9-speaker Premium Sound System includes a 6-CD changer, Bluetooth, SiriusXM satellite radio, an iPod port and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. Keyless entry with push-button start, a power tilt/telescopic steering column, an illuminated entry system, cruise control and power windows and door locks are also included. Cloth seats come standard, although owners can opt for a Premium Package, which includes leather upholstery, memory for the driver's seat, a power rear hatch and a power tilt/slide moonroof. Other options include a navigation system, a dual-screen rear entertainment system, heated and ventilated front seats and an upgraded 15-speaker Mark Levinson Surround Sound audio system.