Experts recommend the 2010 Lexus RX 350 more often than any other midsize SUV. It's not the most athletic SUV, but critics love it for day-to-day driving: It's plush, competent and reassuringly safe and reliable. A hybrid version, the 2010 Lexus RX 450h (Base MSRP: $42,685 to $44,275), is one of the top-rated SUVs in our report on Hybrid SUVs and Crossovers.
"Arguably the smoothest, softest SUV around," the RX 350 combines the features of a world-class luxury sedan with the roominess of an SUV, says Kelley Blue Book, whose Recommended Shopping List designation and Best Resale Value award are just two of the many honors scooped up by the redesigned 2010 RX 350.
The new RX 350 "offers more luxury, more features, more conveniences" than the outgoing model, writes Jay Shoemaker at TheTruthAboutCars.com. You'll get more airbags, a bigger cargo bay and better handling than with last year's model, Kiplinger.com points out.
The 2010 RX 350 also gains 400 pounds this year. Motor Trend testers find it "feels heavy on the road," but Shoemaker says the extra weight makes the 2010 version feel "more buttoned down and even a bit Germanic." Despite the weight, a tweaked suspension makes the new RX 350 feel slightly more nimble than before, Edmunds.com says -- although critics agree it's certainly no athlete. If you want something sporty, Edmunds.com advises picking the 2010 Acura MDX (Base MSRP: $42,230 to $51,855), 2010 BMW X5 (Base MSRP: $47,600 to $85,500) or 2010 Infiniti FX35 (Base MSRP: $42,850 to $44,300) instead. For thousands less, critics point out that the 2011 Honda Pilot (Base MSRP: $28,320 to $40,670) can carry eight people comfortably, and the 2010 Toyota 4Runner (Base MSRP: $27,500 to $39,800) is a rugged off-roader.
But if you want a luxury SUV to drive daily, experts agree that you can't do better than the Lexus RX 350. "The 2010 RX will be heading to my garage soon," Shoemaker says. "Let's just call it 'perfect.'"
Class-leading safety and reliability
The Lexus RX 350 seats five, in a cabin that critics find simple and high-quality. Cargo space is a roomy 80 feet. Standard features include wood trim, dual-zone automatic climate control, a CD stereo with auxiliary audio jack, power front seats and sliding/reclining rear seats. Options come in pricey packages, Edmunds.com notes. For example, leather seats come as part of a $2,400 Premium Package with moonroof and more. To get a backseat DVD system, you'll need to buy a $5,615 package that also includes navigation and an upgraded sound system.
The optional navigation system brings with it a mouse-like Remote Touch device that controls navigation and other cabin functions. One major testing organization finds it distracts the driver's attention from the road, but other experts adore its simplicity and satisfying tactile feedback. "Every carmaker has struggled with a simple way to control the ever-increasing amount of interior functions. Lexus has found the answer with the Remote Touch," writes Larry Webster at Popular Mechanics. Motor Trend says it makes "every other automotive user interface system obsolete" and predicts everyone will copy it.
Acceleration is peppy with the RX 350's 257-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6. It comes with a six-speed automatic transmission. Expect 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway/21 mpg combined with front-wheel drive, dropping 1 mpg highway and combined with all-wheel drive. That's good for a midsize luxury SUV, reviewers say, and actually on par with some compact SUVs. The RX 350 can tow 3,500 pounds.
Crash ratings are unsurpassed in the class. The Lexus RX 350 earns the highest possible ratings in all government and independent front, side, rear and rollover roof strength crash tests, with a high 4 stars (out of 5) in federal rollover avoidance tests. Besides the usual safety features -- antilock brakes, traction and stability control and front, front-side and curtain airbags -- the 2010 Lexus RX 350 also comes with front knee airbags.
Reliability is excellent, according to a major owner survey. The Lexus RX 350 carries a four-year/50,000 mile basic warranty and six-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty.
ConsumerReports.org provides the most complete review of the Lexus RX 350, testing the redesigned 2010 model and ranking it against most other SUVs on the market. Edmunds.com, Cars.com, Motor Trend, Popular Mechanics and TheTruthAboutCars.com also test the 2010 Lexus RX 350 and write very descriptive reviews. Reviews at ConsumerGuide.com, Kelley Blue Book and Kiplinger.com are shorter, but still informative. SaferCar.gov and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conduct separate crash tests of the 2010 Lexus RX 350, and FuelEconomy.gov provides official fuel-economy estimates.
ConsumerReports.org tests and ranks most SUVs on the market, including the redesigned 2010 Lexus RX 350. Editors' recommendations are based on performance, comfort, fuel economy, reliability and safety.
Review: Lexus RX, Editors of ConsumerReports.org
Although it's not very athletic and lacks a third row, editors here say the Lexus RX 350 is still a great choice for buyers who like their SUVs plush and comfortable.
Review: 2010 Lexus RX 350 Review, Editors of Edmunds.com
Cars.com names the Lexus RX 350 a 2010 Best Bet. It's not the sportiest luxury SUV you can buy, Mike Hanley says, but it is comfortable and refined -- even more so with the new 2010 version.
Review: 2010 Lexus RX 350, Mike Hanley, Jan. 7, 2009
4. Motor Trend
The 2010 Lexus RX 350 doesn't win Motor Trend's Sport/Utility of the Year award, but editors do like its safety and high-tech features. Still, they find it fairly boring to drive.
Review: 2010 Motor Trend Sport/Utility of the Year: The Contenders: 2010 Lexus RX, Allyson Harwood, October 2009
The Cadillac SRX proves more agile than the Lexus RX 350 in this test, but reviewer Larry Webster finds the more comfortable, refined Lexus a better daily driver.
Review: Cadillac SRX vs. Lexus RX 350 Comparison Test: Can GM's Best Topple Lexus?, Larry Webster, July 1, 2009
6. The Truth About Cars
Critics here are usually hard to impress, but the RX 350 wins over tester Jay Shoemaker by offering more features and luxury than the outgoing model.
Review: Review: 2010 Lexus RX350, Jay Shoemaker, Feb. 25, 2009
The comfortable, practical, well-built Lexus RX 350 is once again a Best Buy at ConsumerGuide.com. Testers rate it above the class average on almost every measure, although they do criticize its "lifeless" steering and brakes.
Review: 2010 Lexus RX: Road Test, Editors of ConsumerGuide.com
8. Kelley Blue Book
The Lexus RX 350 wins a spot on Kelley Blue Book's 2010 Recommended Shopping List and a Best Resale Value award. Editors say it is as comfortable as a first-class luxury sedan, but with the space of an SUV.
Review: 2010 Lexus RX 4-door RX 350 Sport Utility, Editors of Kelley Blue Book
Kiplinger.com recommends vehicles based on their overall value, including price, resale value, fuel economy and insurance and repair costs. The Lexus RX 350 is one of the editors' top picks for 2010.
Review: Best New Model: Large and Midsize Crossovers, Editors of Kiplinger.com, March 2010
The Lexus RX 350 ties with several other 2010 midsize SUVs for the highest government crash ratings in the class. It earns perfect 5-star ratings in front and side crash tests, with 4 stars for rollover resistance.
Review: 5-Star Safety Ratings, Editors of SaferCar.gov
11. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
The 2010 Lexus RX 350 is a Top Safety Pick here, earning the highest rating of "Good" in front, side, rear and rollover roof strength crash tests.
Review: Midsize Luxury SUVs, Editors of IIHS.org
The Lexus RX 350's fuel economy is quite good for a midsize luxury SUV, according to this government chart that ranks most 2010 SUVs by fuel consumption. The RX 350 is on par with some smaller SUVs, at 20 to 21 mpg overall.
Review: 2010 Sport Utility Vehicles, Editors of FuelEconomy.gov