2011 Lexus RX350:Subtle and seductive

27 Jan 2011 | 2,071 views | No Comment
By Don Hammonds Some things just make themselves right at home without you even noticing it. We suspect that most, if not all Lexus products fit that description. They aren't usually the fastest, the most dazzingly styled, or the most daring products around, but once you drive one for a while, you're loath---very, very loath--to give them up. They're seductive. They comfort yu and cosset you with every conceivable technlogical feature there is.  They are smooth as butter to drive, and quiet as tombs. They are among the most reliable vehicles on the road, and they do their job skillfully and without argument. That pretty much sums up the 2011 Lexus  RX350, which starts at $38,375,  too.  We've driven plenty of fancier looking, showier products in their market segment--entry level small luxury crossovers and SUVs--but the RX350 is like a pair of comfortable shoes--woe be unto the person who tries to take them away from you. Let's go for a drive. The first thing you'll notice is the buttery soft seating that manages to be supportive without being harsh.  You sit right down and it's like being in your favorite easy chair in your living room.  As you turn on the car, you'll see the shadowy, moonlit-looking bckgroubnd lighting for the gauges come to life, and your hand fits right on top of the Remote Touch Inte4rface for the navigation screen and other functions. It has a pleasant clicking feel to it when you select what you want the system to do and it's almost precisely like using a mouse controller. Hands down, it's among the best systems of its kind in the industry. As you drive, you'll notice how smoothly and quietly the RX350 takes to the road, an acceleration is pretty decent, too.  But you'll also notice moderate body lean in the corners and  around curves; it's not annoying, but it does remind you that this is not a sports performance luxury crossover---if you want one of those, there are several brands to choose from and we are sure you know which ones they are. While we're underway, you'll notice there's plenty of room for back seat passengers, and they have seats that slide, tilt and are otherwise adjustable for supremely comfortable touring on the road. You will note, however, that only a limited number of people are with us; one of the RX350's shortcomings in our book is that it does not have a third row seat available. Standard features include 18-inch alloy wheels, foglights, automatic headlights, heated outside mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, 10-way power front seats, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, second-row seats that slide and recline, cloth upholstery, wood interior trim, dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a nine-speaker stereo (with a six-CD changer, steering-wheel-mounted controls, an auxiliary audio jack and satellite radio). Of course, if there are other goodies you want, you'll find a package of options to fit your needs. Consumers seem to go for two in particular--the Sports package and the Premium package.  The Sports package gets you 19-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension and Lexus' Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) system. The Premium package adds a sunroof, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, leather upholstery, a power rear liftgate, driver seat memory settings, a rear-seat armrest and an iPod/USB input/interface. There's also the Comfort, Luxury and Navigation packages; these have plenty of good stuff too, and we refer you to your dealer for more details. Changes for the 2011RX 350 include  a standard brake override system which  automatically reduces engine power when the brake pedal and the accelerator pedal are applied simultaneously under certain driving conditions. New exterior colors are offered to complement the RX 350’s refinement. Satin Cashmere Mica replaces Golden Almond Metallic. Stargazer Black is added to the palette, while Truffle Mica and Black Sapphire Pearl are discontinued. Power for the  RX 350 comes from a 3.5-liter V6 engine good for 275 horsepower with a six-speed Multi-Mode Automatic Transmission. Mileage rating is 18/25.

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