Since its inception in 1990, Lexus has made a habit of producing quality vehicles that appeal to multitudes of luxury-segment buyers. A great example is the ever-popular RX-series luxury crossover SUV. Fully redesigned for 2010, the Lexus RX 350 doesn’t stray too far from its successful formula of pleasant driving dynamics, a “just right” five-passenger size, a cabin full of luxury features and impeccable build quality.
Understandably, Lexus took a conservative approach when it reworked its bread-and-butter crossover. The tweaks made to this new-generation RX include a slight increase in width (though other dimensions remain essentially unchanged), bigger standard wheels (18s versus 17s), bigger brakes, a new six-speed transmission, more airbags (now at 10), a keyless ignition system and a new mouse-like multifunction controller for the navigation system that’s actually both clever and intuitive to use. One downside to these new features, however, is that they contribute to the new 2010 RX 350’s weight gain — it’s up more than 400 pounds compared to last year’s model.
However, you won’t need to e-mail the “Biggest Loser” to ask if they have a vehicular-themed show coming up — the increased poundage hasn’t marred the 2010 RX 350’s performance. If anything, we’ve found the new RX to be more athletic than the outgoing model, thanks to sharpened steering and a revamped suspension. A new double-wishbone rear suspension setup not only improves handling but provides a little more cargo space behind the seats, thanks to its more compact design.
Compared to its competition, the 2010 Lexus RX 350 still serves as a fine example of what a luxury crossover SUV should be. Yes, those looking for sportier corner-carving machines would still be better served by the Acura MDX, BMW X5 and Infiniti FX35. And those needing third-row accommodations should check out the Cadillac SRX, Mercedes-Benz R350 or Volvo XC90. However, if you’re interested in a plush, convenience-laden five-passenger crossover, it doesn’t get much better than the RX 350.
The 2010 Lexus RX 350 is a midsize luxury crossover SUV that seats five. Standard features include 18-inch alloy wheels, keyless ignition and entry, 10-way power front seats, a power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, wood interior trim, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth, a nine-speaker stereo (with a CD changer, steering-wheel-mounted controls and an auxiliary audio jack) and second-row seats that slide and recline.
Options include a number of packages. The Sport package adds 19-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension and Lexus’ Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) system. The Premium package adds leather seating, a sunroof, a power rear liftgate, driver seat memory settings, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and an iPod input/interface. Selecting this package allows further upgrades via the Comfort package (heated and ventilated front seats, bi-xenon adaptive headlights and rain-sensing wipers) and the Luxury package (19-inch wheels, retractable outside mirrors, upgraded leather seating, a side-monitoring system, a wood and leather steering wheel, extendable front seat cushions). The Navigation package (requires the Premium package) includes a hard-drive-based navigation system with real-time traffic, a back-up camera, Bluetooth and upgraded speakers.
Individual options include park assist, a premium Mark Levinson surround-sound audio system, a dual-rear-screen DVD entertainment system, a head-up display and the Pre-Collision System (which primes the brakes and tightens the seatbelts if a collision is deemed imminent). Many of the various package features are also available à la carte.
A 3.5-liter V6 rated at 275 horsepower and 257 pound-feet of torque powers the 2010 Lexus RX 350. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard, and buyers have a choice of either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Lexus claims either version will run from zero to 60 mph in about 7.5 seconds.
Fuel economy estimates stand at 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined for the FWD model, with the AWD version rating 1 mpg less. Properly equipped, the RX 350 can tow up to 3,500 pounds.
The RX 350 comes standard with no fewer than 10 airbags, which include front- and rear-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and dual front knee bags. Standard stability and traction control systems as well as antilock brakes with brake assist are on hand to help one avoid an accident in the first place.
In true Lexus fashion, the 2010 Lexus RX 350 possesses a smooth and sophisticated personality. Acceleration is swift and silent, thanks to the 3.5-liter V6 and quiet cabin. This is first and foremost a luxury vehicle, and as such, the standard suspension is tuned more for a plush ride than sporty handling, though it never feels the least bit floaty. Those seeking a firmer dynamic should consider the Sport package, which includes a sport-tuned suspension along with 19-inch wheels fitted with performance tires. Even fitted with the latter, however, the refined RX 350 still leans more toward an isolated ride than an enthusiast-oriented, involving drive.
Although the RX 350 is an entry-level luxury SUV, the cabin gives the impression that this could be the company’s flagship. Real wood and high-quality leather trim make for a rich ambience, and the optional Mark Levinson sound system rivals the best systems available anywhere. In addition to voice command capability, the optional navigation system employs Remote Touch, a new interface that replaces the former touchscreen setup with a mouse-like controller located on the center console. Remote Touch is immediately intuitive and generally easier to use than interfaces offered by the RX 350’s competitors.
Rear passengers will be quite comfortable thanks to the seat’s reclining and sliding adjustments. That seat is split 40/20/40 to optimize both passenger comfort and cargo-carrying flexibility. When it’s time to turn this luxury cruiser into a beast of burden, the RX 350 is ready with 40 cubic feet of cargo capacity with the rear seats up and 80 cubes with those seats down.
|Vehicle Traction||All Wheel Drive, Front Wheel Drive|
|Exterior Color||Red Multi-Coat|