The vehicle that started it all is back with more luxury features than ever. The all-new 2004 Lexus RX 330 is equipped with driveline and safety systems that provide the RX driver and passengers with even greater peace of mind in all types of driving conditions. In addition, Lexus increased standard luxury content in the new RX 330 compared to the previous model while making new premium-level options available.
New technology added to the RX 330 was designed to make the vehicle easier and more enjoyable to drive and more comfortable for passengers. "Lexus customers expect any new technology to improve the driving experience, not to complicate or frustrate it," said Denny Clements Lexus group vice president and general manager.
Adaptive Headlight And Cruise Control Systems
The new RX 330 offers several options designed to help improve visibility for night driving and poor weather conditions. Rain-sensing windshield wipers and High-Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights are expected in this segment, but Lexus goes further by offering an Adaptive Front lighting System (AFS) for better illumination in turns and curves. A central controller calculates the optimum lighting direction based on input from vehicle speed and steering angle and swivels the right and left headlights independently. As a result, the driver can see further into a curve.
In place of the standard cruise control system, customers can choose Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) like that offered on the Lexus LS 430 flagship sedan. It uses lasers to measure distance from a vehicle traveling ahead and maintain a set distance from it.
Optional Air Suspension System
A new optional air suspension system helps enhance handling, driving comfort, and versatility in the RX 330. Automatic leveling ensures generous suspension travel and helps to preserve ride comfort. Four driver-selectable height settings allow the driver to tailor the RX 330 to specific driving conditions or needs.
In "Normal" mode, the system lowers ride height by 0.3 inches (7 mm) when vehicle speed exceeds 62 mph (100 km/h) to reduce aerodynamic drag for better handling and ride comfort. The vehicle returns to normal ride height when speed falls below about 50 mph (80 km/h). A driver-selectable "Low" mode reduces ride height by 0.6 inches (15 mm), resulting in more responsive steering and better tracking through curves and further supports the vehicle's sedan-like driving characteristics.
The air suspension system helps boost the light-duty off-road capability that some customers want without compromising the on-road performance and comfort that are cornerstones of the vehicle's appeal and success. For driving over rough roads or unpaved trails at speeds of 30 mph or under, the driver can select the "High" position, which increases ground clearance by 1.2 inches (30 mm) and also increases the angles of approach and departure.
The air suspension's "Access" mode lowers ride height by 1.2 inches (30 mm) to make it easier to exit or load/unload the RX 330. The driver can select this mode while the vehicle is idling in the Park position, and the RX 330 can change to "Access" mode automatically when the ignition switch is turned off if the driver chooses.
Components of the air suspension system include a compressor/dryer unit mounted at the rear of the vehicle, a low-pressure tank under the floor and a pneumatic cylinder at each wheel. Each of the cylinders integrates an air spring and shock absorber. There is a height-control valve between the compressor and each of the pneumatic cylinders, and a height sensor for each axle. A central electronic control unit (ECU) controls the valves in response to signals from the height sensors. The low-pressure tank ensures quick suspension lowering response time. All RX 330 models with the air suspension system are equipped with a multi-mode automatic (sequential) transmission.
New VSC-Controlled Four-Wheel Drive
Both the front-drive and four-wheel drive RX 330 models come equipped with the Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) system as standard. In both models, VSC helps keep the vehicle going on its intended course by detecting front wheel slide and rear-wheel slide during cornering and attempting to control either condition with torque intervention and/or by braking individual wheels.
The new four-wheel drive system for the RX 330 is simpler and lighter than the one used previously and uses VSC to redirect engine power when wheel slippage occurs. In addition, driveshaft elements are situated in a straighter line, which helps reduce friction and driveline noise.
Like its predecessor, the RX 330 uses a center differential to split engine power evenly between the front and rear wheels. If wheelslip occurs, VSC re-apportions power front-to-rear and side-to-side, eliminating the need for the viscous coupling used on the previous model.
A new standard tire pressure monitor alerts the driver in the event of tire under-inflation. VSC and the Brake Assist feature work with the standard four-wheel anti-lock brake system (ABS). Brake Assist is designed to determine if the driver is attempting emergency braking and, if the driver has not stepped hard enough on the brake pedal to engage the ABS, the system applies maximum braking power until pedal pressure is released.
New Safety Systems
The new-generation supplemental restraint systems (SRS) in the RX 330 include multi-stage front airbags for the driver and passenger, a new knee airbag for the driver and a new kind of side airbag in the front seats. The multi-stage front passenger and driver front airbags deploy according to impact severity. The technology behind these systems also takes passenger weight and driver seat position on the seat track into account.
The Lexus RX 330 side airbags cover the torso, abdomen and pelvis and are larger than those used in other vehicles. The side airbags also help provide additional crash energy management for the front and rear outboard occupants.
The RX 330 is available with the optional Lexus Link system. At the press of a button, or automatically in certain emergency situations, Lexus Link combines GPS satellite and cellular phone technology to connect the customer with experienced and trained Lexus Link advisors at anytime, day or night, 365 days a year (when cellular and GPS services are available). Lexus Link services include automatic notification of air bag deployment, dispatch of emergency services, accident assistance, roadside assistance with location, theft notification and stolen vehicle tracking, plus remote door lock and unlock.
New Options Raise the Level of Luxury
A number of new options for the RX 330 are designed to increase comfort, convenience and listening pleasure. Lexus expects most RX 330 customers to choose the power rear liftgate, which can be controlled by the standard in-key remote entry unit. An available power tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel column helps to ensure comfort for drivers of all heights.
Lexus is the only car company to offer custom-tailored Mark Levinson audio systems. The RX 330 system produces 240 watts of continuous average power at a remarkably low .01% THD, through a 20-20,000 Hz frequency response. The Mark Levinson system available in the RX 330 plays through 11 speakers, including a center channel speaker.
An optional, factory-installed DVD rear-seat entertainment system uses a high-resolution TFT screen that lowers from the headliner, and the package includes a remote control and two wireless headphones. Rear seat passengers can listen to a different audio source than those in the front when using the wireless headphones.
A DVD-based Lexus Navigation System with a rear back-up camera is optional. The rear back-up camera is mounted near the top of the license plate surround and automatically projects an image of what is behind the vehicle onto the navigation screen when the vehicle is in the reverse gear.