The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

HEELS ON WHEELS: 2010 LEXUS RX 350 REVIEW


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

SEE ALSO: Lexus Buyers Guide

If you're looking to spoil yourself and make life a little easier, the Lexus RX 350 will do it for you!

HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

INTRO TO THE LEXUS RX 350 VEHICLE
Lexus has introduced its third generation of the RX 350 utility vehicles and it does not disappoint. More than one million of this Lexus model has been sold worldwide, which spells major success for Toyota. This luxury 5-passenger ride has a long list of improvements in the performance area, including an all-new six-speed transmission to increased horsepower.

I drove a 2010 Lexus RX 350 with the 275 horsepower 3.5-liter VVT-i V6 engine (the previous powertrain had 270 horsepower) and the 6-speed Multi-Mode Automatic Transmission with a quicker shifting response from the previous 5-speed. The RX 350 has great standards, such as dual-zone climate control, a 10-way power driver and passenger seats with lumbar, roof rails, Homelink, an LCD screen for audio and ventilation settings and a 9-speaker sound system. A few optional packages such as the Comfort Package (heated seats, auto-leveling Bi-Xenon headlamps) and the Navigation System (Remote Touch device, voice command, back up monitor, NavWeather) brought the total price to $49,825.

The RX 350 really sets the bar for other crossovers and SUVs in its class. It's hard to beat a vehicle that is set on perfection, but in spite of all the fancy upgrades, two features should make it a hit with moms: A remote open-and-close liftgate and cargo area side handles that fold the second row flat.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: Busy moms are definitely the target market for this vehicle. The interior is divine, the exterior is classy, and the ride offers performance and is easy to handle. But two key features rarely found on competitors (both luxury and non-luxury) is the remote open and close liftgate along with the side levers to fold the second row seats down flat. This means there will be no reaching around cargo areas trying to push seats down, or having to put kids and groceries down to shut the rear door.

Reliability & Safety Factor: Standard safety features on any RX 350 include: Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, ABS, Electronic Brake Distribution, Tire Pressure Monitoring, fog lamps, intermittent windshield wipers, anti-fog outside mirrors with turn indicators, 10 standard airbags, LATCH and Safety Connect (an automatic collision notification system along with a roadside assistance button). There's also a host of optional safety features such as: Pre-Collision System, backup camera, Head-Up Display, Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) and Intuitive Parking Assist.

Cost Issues: Base price might be in the upper-30k, but the packages can make the RX 350 expensive real fast. Try a $2,2440 Navigation system, a $4,800 Luxury package and a $1,200 Heads Up Display. This is a $50k luxury vehicle – you cannot really get around the fact.

Activity & Performance Ability: It's a smooth ride with a predicable, high-performing engine. A new double-wishbone rear suspension replaces the strut-based configuration that ends up both improving handling and increasing the cargo area. The turning radius is good. Many SUVs or crossovers can make you feel swallowed – the RX 350 is the perfect size. The Remote Touch devise works like a mouse to work the navigation screen, but given Toyota's commitment to safety, you still cannot punch in an address while the car is in motion.

The Green Concern: The V6 gets 18-mpg/city and 25-mpg highway driving for a combined 21-mpg for FWD and about 20-mpg for AWD. Considering the size and weight of the RX 350 (AWD is about 4,500 lbs), it's reasonably decent fuel economy.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
If you're looking to spoil yourself as well as make life a little easier, the Lexus RX 350 does a great job of it for busy moms. Any model will do, really, but many new or improved powertrain and drivetrain features on the 2010 model were previously only found on the larger utility vehicles.

©2009 Katrina Ramser