Lexus RX350 Origins
Starting off life as the RX300 in 1999, the Lexus RX series of midsize sport utility vehicles (SUV) has become rather ubiquitous to say the least. These are the best selling cars made by Lexus. Based on the Toyota Highlander platform, the RX models fit into the luxury maker’s lineup somewhere between the ES sedans and the bigger SUVs that sit on truck platforms in the GX and LX series. Something akin to a minivan in popularity and preferred duty, the RX line has many admirers.
The first generation RX300 models lasted through 2003. This generation contains a 220 horsepower, 3.0-liter V-6 engine with a four-speed automatic transmission. It actually uses the same engine as the ES 300. The model only offers one trim and a rather limited options list. For 2001, the available options increased noticeably, and the exterior received a minor facelift.
The model year 2004 vehicle became the RX 330. It shows style changes inside and out and uses higher quality materials. These second generation RX models contain an upgraded engine—a 3.3-liter V-6 producing 230 hp and coupling with a five-speed automatic transmission. These models also use high-tech add-ons that competing models don’t offer.
In 2009, another design over-haul led to another numerical designation, and the third generation became known as the RX350. This group uses the same engine as the 330, but it produces 275 hp. The model adds more features as well, and the 350 is considered a serious luxury vehicle with reasonable, although not great, responsiveness. The RX line also saw the addition of updated navigation and safety technology in this generation.About the Lexus RX350
The RX350 carries a reputation for great reliability and luxury. Its performance is better attuned for luxury seekers than thrill seekers. Being a midsize crossover SUV, the 350 is expected to move families, groceries, and some gear around. Like a minivan, it is more family trickster than performance beast. It stands on a smaller platform than the truck-like SUVs in the Lexus line, and it shows. While it won’t handle or perform like an IS series vehicle, and it doesn’t have the penthouse-on-wheels-feel that the LX series offers, it is a comfort machine at its heart.
Besides reliability with a touch of luxury, the RX350 also touts popularity. Being the best seller in the Lexus fleet says something about a car. This says that many people trust the vehicle, and it must be a rather well-designed, well-made option. Granted, the midsize crossover SUV class is probably the most popular and best-selling group of vehicles on the road, but that shouldn’t diminish the impact of the RX350’s success. This crossover faces a lot of competition, namely the Acura MDX, Hyundai Veracruz, BMW X5, Audi Q7, Mercedes-Benz ML-Class, and Lincoln MKX. Selling well in this group says this SUV does something right.Lexus RX350 Features
The 2012 RX350 uses the third generation powertrain with a 275 hp V-6 hooked into a six-speed automatic transmission. Two basic models are available, one standard with front-wheel drive and the other optional with all-wheel drive. The generous list of standard features includes 18-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry/ignition, 10-way power front seats, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a nine-speaker stereo. All of the options are grouped into packages such as sport, luxury, premium, towing, comfort, and more. Some of the options include a blind-spot detection system, a power liftgate, heated/cooled front seats, leather upholstery, a navigation system, a rear DVD entertainment system, and a back-up camera.
This five-seat crossover is considered a rather plush ride. No extra performance appears to be needed as sales figures imply that Lexus has this car-buying demographic all figured out. The 2012 RX350 carries a few complaints, but not many. Some of the in class competition has third-row seating. It’s a bit noisy inside for a luxury model. Some don’t like the navigation system interface because of its similarities to a home computer. The exterior could almost be called generic for this vehicle type. But these are minor quibbles for such a feature-laden and luxurious crossover with sufficient utility.Lexus RX350 Evolution
The models made from 2007 through 2009 are really an RX 330 with a bigger engine. The extensive redesign in 2010 changed things, but since then there have been no major revisions or alterations other than some safety and luxury upgrades and a slight increase in overall size.