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Stephen Walker with the Lexus RX 350 Sport

ROAD TEST:   Lexus RX 350 Sport

by Stephen Walker

22nd June, 2009

Home > Road Tests > Lexus

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 sustainability.

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 time. (copyright image)

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 kms.

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). (copyright image)

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!


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