2011 RX 350 New Car Test Drive
The Lexus RX 350 and RX 450h are uncommonly easy to operate, even though they are brimming with electronic technology. If the RX were a computer, and in more ways than ever, it is, it would have a plug-and-play operating system and an inviting, engaging user interface.
The Lexus RX was completely redesigned and re-engineered for 2010, so it's carried over for 2011 largely unchanged. This latest-generation model features a wishbone, rather than strut-type, independent rear suspension and an improved all-wheel-drive system, and the entire car was improved. A mouse-like controller Lexus calls Remote Touch is used instead of a touch screen to operate climate, audio and the navigation system.
We've found the RX to be softer and smoother than the other SUVs in its class. It's also more fuel-efficient. The RX 350 beats the fuel economy ratings of the Acura MDX, Mercedes ML 350, and BMW X5 xDrive3.5i. The RX 450h hybrid gets better mileage yet, and is among the cleanest vehicles yet devised by man.
The RX 350 and RX 450h are offered with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The all-wheel-drive system is lighter and more efficient than in the previous generation. It works electronically without the locking center differential in previous models.
The RX 350 comes with a 3.5-liter V6 mated to a 6-speed automatic multi-mode transmission. Compared to the previous model, this latest RX 350 is a little heavier due to stouter rear suspension components, which provide upgraded crash performance.
Like all Lexus vehicles, the 2011 Lexus RX adds Smart Stop Technology, which automatically reduces engine power when the brake and accelerator pedals are applied simultaneously under certain driving conditions. Aside from some new paint colors, there are no other changes for 2011.
When it was first launched as a 1999 model, the Lexus RX was at the leading edge of a revolution of sport-utilities built like cars rather than like trucks. Today, nearly all but the largest SUVs are these so-called crossovers. The RX remains the standard against which many are measured, and this latest-generation version is the best RX to date.
The 2011 Lexus RX 350 comes with front-wheel drive ($37,975) or all-wheel drive ($39,375). The RX 450h offers the same choice of front-drive ($43,235) or all-wheel drive ($44,825) and is similarly equipped. All come with fabric upholstery, automatic dual-zone climate control, AM/FM/6CD with nine speakers and a luxury level of standard equipment.
The optional Luxury Package ($4900) includes semi-aniline leather trim interior; one-touch-open/close Moonroof; Power Retractable Electrochromic Outside Mirrors; Wood and Lather Steering Wheel and Shift Knob; Wide Angle Side-View Monitor, 19-inch Alloy wheels with Mud and Snow Tires; iPod/USB port; Power Rear Door; Illuminated Scuff Plate; and Headlamp Cleaner. The Comfort Package ($1950) includes bi-xenon high intensity discharge (HID) projector headlamps; adaptive front lighting system; automatic high beams; rain-sensing automatic wipers; 12-speaker audio; and heated and cooled front seats.
Dual-Screen Rear Seat Entertainment with Navigation ($5005) includes DVD rear-seat entertainment system with wireless headphones, audio/video inputs, 120V AC power outlet and navigation system with voice command, backup monitor, XM Nav Traffic and Nav Weather with 90-day trial subscription and Remote Touch controller.
Options include a Heads-Up Display ($1200), Heated/Ventilated Front Seats ($640), 19-inch Aluminum Alloy Wheels with Mud and Snow Tires ($660), and Bi-Xenon High Intensity Discharge Headlamps with AFS and Automatic High Beams ($800-875). Mark Levinson Audio ($1610) and Intuitive Parking Assist ($500) are also available as stand-alone options. The Navigation System option ($2465) includes Hard Disc Drive Navigation with voice command, Backup Monitor, XM Nav Traffic and Nav Weather with 90-day trial subscription, and the Remote Touch controller. The Sports Package ($1300) includes 19-inch Sport finish alloy wheels with mud and snow tires, sport-tuned suspension, and Vehicle Dynamic Management (VDIM).
Safety equipment includes front airbags; front-seat mounted side airbags; roll-sensing front and rear side-curtain air bags; driver and front passenger knee airbags and side airbags; active headrests for front seats; force-limiting seatbelt pre-tensioners for driver and front passenger seats; three-point seatbelts with pre-tensioners for all rear seating positions (3); direct-type tire pressure monitoring system; four-sensor, four-channel anti-lock brake system (ABS) with Brake Assist; enhanced VSC (Vehicle Stability Control). Optional safety features include Pre-collision System and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control ($1500); Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) comes with the Sports Package.