2010 Lexus RX 350Posted on January 22nd, 2010
Midsize luxury crossover vehicle
By Nina Russin
In 1998, Lexus introduced a new crossover vehicle called the RX 300: the luxury twin to Toyota’s Highlander. A hybrid version rolled out in 2005, diversifying the product mix. Last year, Lexus unveiled the RX 350: a new model with more power and numerous technology upgrades.
Engineers tuned the standard 3.5-liter V6 engine to produce a flat torque curve. The all-wheel drive version tows up to 3500 pounds, meeting our ALV minimum standard. A six-speed automatic transmission seamlessly transitions between gears while enhancing fuel economy.
Inside, the RX 350 seats up to five adults, and adds a spacious cargo bay with a standard tonneau cover. The rear seats fold flat to extend the cargo floor, so the RX meets our bicycle-friendly standards. Standard roof-rails make it easy to add a cargo rack.
Enhanced safety features
Engineers adapted Toyota’s vehicle dynamics integrated management system for the RX 350. The system, originally developed for hybrids, integrates antilock braking, traction and stability control. The technology counteracts torque steer and enhances steering response on uneven or partially wet surfaces.
The 2010 model comes with driver and front passenger knee airbags, in addition to the front, side and side curtain bags.
The test car is equipped with adaptive front headlamps as part of the bi-xenon beam option. Bi-xenon headlamps are brighter and project a longer beam of light than halogen. Actuators swivel the headlamps according to steering inputs to illuminate corners of the road.
A pre-collision option on the test car automatically cinches the seatbelts and primes the brakes when sensors determine a collision is imminent. The same option adds dynamic cruise control, which allows the driver to follow the car in front at a pre-determined distance.
All models come with tire pressure monitoring, front active headrests and a first aid kit.
Wet weather test drive
A series of rainstorms came through Phoenix this week. Because rain is so rare in the southwest, oil that accumulates on the roads between storms can cause vehicles to lose traction.
Several feet of snow up north forced the highway patrol to close major interstates, so I limited the test routes to the Phoenix metro area. The RX 350 handled the wet road surfaces with aplomb. Even at highway speeds, there was very little difference in brake performance or steering response to dry roads. Sensors from the VDIM system described above picked up changes in road conditions instantaneously, and triggered the necessary safety mechanisms to maintain directional control.
The electric power steering pump on the RX 350 replaces hydraulic components that are heavier and can wear out over time. Some electric systems produce better steering response than others. Lexus engineers did a good job of tuning the steering on the RX. When I simulated an emergency lane change, the system maintained a positive on-center response.
Being a high-profile vehicle, the RX 350 is less stable in wind than a passenger car. I found myself fighting the steering wheel when some harsh crosswinds moved over the highway.
Visibility is pretty good around the car. I had no problems seeing over the side mirrors when I cornered in either direction, and found it easy to see cars in the adjacent lanes. A standard rear wiper, concealed in the rear spoiler, keeps the back glass clear in rainy weather.
The thick rear pillars create some blind spots to the rear. The reverse camera made a significant difference in visibility backing up the car and parking.
The interior of the cabin is extremely quiet, with no noticeable road noise or wind around the side mirrors or windshield. Passengers in both rows should find it easy to converse.
The RX 350 interior combines the luxury features found in Lexus passenger cars with a larger, more versatile cargo area. Because the vehicle has no floor tunnel, the RX can easily seat three adults in the second row.
Heated and cooled front seats keep the driver and front passenger comfortable in temperature extremes. Designers used a similar mouse device to that found in the HS 250h to control comfort and convenience functions.
The device comes as close to a computer mouse as anything I’ve seen on a car. It is extremely easy to use: “enter” buttons on both sides make the device accessible from both the driver’s and front passenger seats.
I found the driver’s seat with a ten-way power adjustment comfortable during long drives. A standard dead pedal minimizes leg fatigue. The front armrest slides back and forth to accommodate different size drivers. A power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel helps smaller drivers maintain a clear forward view.
A standard heads-up display projects speedometer readings onto the bottom of the windshield. The white-on-black gauges are easy to read in a variety of lighting conditions: ditto for the navigation screen in the center stack.
A digital display in the gauge cluster gives the driver distance to empty, instant and average fuel economy readings. My average fuel economy for the test drive was 23.3 miles-per-gallon.
The navigation screen doubles as an information display for the audio system. The driver can also pull up vehicle maintenance reminders, and customize functions such as interior lighting and vehicle locking.
The power liftgate is handy for owners who need to load an armful of groceries or large cargo in back. There is a 12-volt power point for recharging electronic devices on one side of the cargo bay, and the standard first aid kit on the other. Four tie-down loops secure large items. The spare tire is located under the cargo floor.
Base price for the RX 350 is $36,800, not including a $875 destination charge. The 2010 Lexus RX 350 is on display at dealerships nationwide.
Likes: A versatile crossover vehicle with passenger car handling. An all-wheel drive model adds capability in wet weather and snow.
Dislikes: Thick D pillars create blind spots in the rear corners.
Model: RX 350
Base price: $ 36,800
As tested: $49,300
Horsepower: 275 Hp @ 6200 rpm
Torque: 257 lbs.-ft. @ 4700 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: Standard
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Towing: Yes (all-wheel drive model only)
Fuel economy: 18/25 mpg city/highway
One response to “2010 Lexus RX 350”
The cockpit is nice but what happened to the front?
Leave a reply