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2010 Lexus RX 350 Review

2010 Lexus RX 350 (select to view enlarged photo)
2010 Lexus RX 350


2010 Lexus RX 350


Model: 2010 Lexus RX 350
Engine: 3.5-liter DOHC V6
Horsepower/Torque: 275 hp @ 6,200 rpm/257 lb.-ft. @ 4,700 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 107.9 in.
Length/Width/Height: 187.8 x 74.2 x 66.3 in.
Tires: 235/60R18
Cargo volume: 40.0/80.3 cubic feet/rear seat up/down
Fuel economy: 18 mpg city/24 mpg highway/20 mpg combined
Fuel capacity: 19.2 gal.
Sticker: $36,800 (plus $700 transportation charge)

The Bottom Line: Lexus's top-selling RX enters its third generation with the RX 350. It features a new engine, larger dimensions and more content combined with Lexus's legendary quiet ride and comfort. The new car offers improved comfort and better handling over its predecessor, while adding several interesting features.

Lexus hit a gold mine when it introduced the RX 300 in 1998 as a 1999 model. Now, 10 years later, the RX enters its third generation (the RX330 was the second) at the best-selling Lexus vehicle and the one that has established strong owner loyalty.

The new RX 350 is longer and wider than its predecessor, with a host of new features that should make any technogeek happy. As befits a vehicle in its category, it also has improved safety with, for example, 10safety bags and a wide-view side monitor.

Even in a reduced market, Lexus expects to sell 80,000 to 84,000 RX350s this year.

On the road, the Lexus RX 350 offers a pleasant ride devoid of any interference by engine or exhaust noise. Lexus engineers put particular emphasis on reducing as much exterior noise as possible to the extent that they added NASA-type tiles to the undercarriage in specific locations and new wheel well liners. The wheel well liners didn't seem to work as well as the tiles did, still allowing some road and tire noise into the cockpit. But still it wasn't intrusive.

The front seats are comfortable with a decent amount of side support. Both front seats are heated and cooled and have power cushion extenders for under-the-thigh support that's important for taller drivers and passengers on long rides. Rear seat knee- and legroom are very good. The rear has a built in entertainment system with screens mounted behind the front headrests. Two different media can be displayed there; a video and/or a video game, keeping both children in the rear happy.

The rear seat backs fold flat to create a cargo area of 80.3 cubic feet, more than double that with the seat backs up. New this year are remote latch releases for the seat backs that are located in the luggage compartment.

We found the power of the new 3.5-liter engine to be more than sufficie nt for the RX body. Combined with the 6-speed automatic transmission (there's a manual mode to the gearbox), acceleration is smooth and quick. Lexus claims 0-60 times of 7.5 seconds for the front-wheel drive drivetrain and a limited top speed of 112 mph.

The ride quality is excellent, thanks in part to a new double wishbone rear suspension that is more compact than the unit it replaces, therefore offering increased luggage capacity.

The RX 350 incorporates Electric Power Steering that is seamless, meaning that you don't know it's any different from any other kind of power steering. Some older systems exhibited lag, similar to that found in old mechanical systems, but we found none of that in our test.

An interesting new feature is called Remote Touch. Similar to the BMW iDrive, but much easier to use and learn, Remote Touch uses a computer joy stick/mouse-like interface to all the vehicle's systems. In a short time you can click on the correct icons to manage the audio, HVAC and navigation systems of the car. We used it, for example, to control our iPod, which was connected through a USB connection. One neat feature of Remote Touch is that it has "Enter" switches on both sides, so that the driver or passenger can use it. As you maneuver the joystick-type control around, there are simulated detents when you reach an icon, giving greater assurance that the arrow will stay where you want it to.

We didn't test the 10 airbags, but suffice it to say that the additional ones are rear-seat side airbags.

The styling is more evolutionary than revolutionary, but why tinker with a winner? The rear spoiler is now standard, and the rear windshield wiper is tucked under the spoiler, where it won't be affected by ice or snow.

The rear brake lights are now LEDs.

Lexus also introduced a hybrid version, which will be known as the RX 450h. This vehicle will be priced at $38,200 plus delivery charges and is expected to deliver 30 mpg city, 24 mpg highway and 20 mpg overall.

There's no reason why the new Lexus RX 350 should not continue to be Lexus's best-selling vehicle. It retains the groundbreaking styling of the original while offering so much extra content and performance that the owners of the more than 780,000 RX units in operation will all want to trade up.

MORE: 2010 RX 350 and RX 450 "Road Trip" Video

2009 The Auto Page Syndicate