with the Lexus RX 350 Sport|
ROAD TEST: Lexus RX 350 Sport
by Stephen Walker
22nd June, 2009
Road Tests >
One of the success stories from Lexus is their mid-sized luxury SUV. Known as RX, this model has become
well accepted over the years. It is an easy model to recognise because of the distinctive "D" pillar. This
styling feature is retained for the new model, which was released just a few months ago. The Lexus RX
models sit in the Lexus model line-up above their IS model, which is a small luxury sedan.
The brand itself, has been plying the well paved roadways of the world since 1989 when the Toyota owned
brand first appeared in the USA before heading to all major markets.
The Lexus RX is available with a choice between two powertrains. The conventional RX 350 has a 3.5 litre
petrol-fuelled V6 as its motive power. A new hybrid version, the RX 450h is about to be released locally,
for those who believe or even suspect hybrids offer a more effective alternative for ecological
On this occasion, the subject of our road test is the new petrol-fuelled Lexus RX 350. Three
versions are now available in this popular model series, Prestige, Sports and Sports Luxury. We drove the
mid-spec Lexus RX 350 Sports, a model which we discovered provided plenty of comfort upfront. The
well-equipped RX line-up was priced from the mid-80s to just a little over $100,000 approximately at the
time of their introduction. Prices now vary, of course, from state/territory to state/territory because of
the new rules introduced by the Federal Government regarding drive-away prices (which, of course, vary
between each jurisdiction). The new pricing requirements replace the often quoted (and very easy to
comprehend) recommended retail price which had enjoyed national understanding over quite a long period of
On the road, the new Lexus RX 350 Sport impressed us with its easy to manage driving behaviour. More
particularly, it impressed us greatly with the quiet way it undertook its driving duties. That, in addition
to the comfortable interior made it a 'good ride' for all occupants, in fact. The compliant ride made it a
good drive, too.
Our driving experience, with the new Lexus RX 350 Sport, was around suburban Melbourne covering some 314
The fuel economy for our adventures averaged 12.9 litres per 100 kilometres, which was all urban traffic
conditions. Lexus suggests the combined cycle fuel economy would come in at 10.8 litres per 100 kms. Our
useage suggests that the stated figures from Lexus are right on the money (so to speak). The CO2 rating at
this rate is 254 grammes per kilometre. However, generally speaking, SUV drivers don't tend to worry too
much about emissions. If they did, SUV sales wouldn't be so high.
The RX 350 is powered by a 3.5 litre V6. It features 204 kW of power at 6,200 rpm and 346 Nm of torque
at 4,700 rpm. Be assured, these figures are more than adequate as the RX 350 is plenty powerful enough. The
rate of acceleration is another comforting factor. Just one transmission is available, a 6-speed unit, which
does its job well. The cruise control was of the user-friendly variety.
The all-wheel drive RX 350 has four-wheel disc brakes and power rack and pinion steering as standard.
Four alloy wheels are fitted and a space-saver spare wheel is provided. A "real" spare is optional for those
who have a need for it (eg. those who frequent poor road surfaces).
The interior seemed to have some compromises. We noticed that back seat passengers had little space under
the front seats for their feet. Additionally, we suspect the back seat is positioned a little lower than it
needs to be. This is especially the case, if adults are the usual occupants. Tall passengers will notice that
their knees will be elevated whilst travelling as back seat passengers. However, there is no compromise with
the front seats. Bolsters are gentle and well positioned for this type of vehicle. There is a memory function
for the driver's seat, too. And, when the ignition is turned off, the driver's seat moves rearward a little
to provide for an easy egress and subsequent entry. Very thoughtful. The steering wheel has 4-way power
adjustment, another nice feature. The contrasting trim looks very nice and provides a luxurious ambience. Both
front doors have a lock/unlock control switch and that is a good thing. The power operated tailgate makes
using the fifth door anything but a chore. And there is still more power to the occupants ..... the windows
are electrically operated, with one-flick for either the up or down movement request.
The Lexus RX 350 Sport is well-equipped. Standard features include moonroof, satellite navigation, 6 disc
audio system, trip computer, inward folding external rear view mirrors, metallic/mica paint, xenon gas
headlights, leather seat facings/trim items and dual-zone climate control air conditioning.
Safety aspects include 10 airbags and a stability control system.
The stylish Lexus RX 350 makes a statement everywhere it goes. Even casual observers recognise that the
RX 350 is a cut above the usual mid-size luxury SUV. But, to conclude, let me suggest that this Lexus is just
like kids in the old days ..... seen, but not heard!