The role model
On the market since 1999, the RX luxury sport-utility was among the first of its kind to come from Japan. We doubted the Lexus would be a victim of its own success, as every other premium brand followed suit a year or two later.
But the RX is still a strong seller in Canada, beating out every other luxury SUV in its market segment this year; only the Mercedes-Benz GLK comes remotely close.
The 3rd-generation RX looks pretty much like the previous one. At a quick glance, you’d think the SUV only received a facelift, but in fact, a complete makeover was performed. The 2010 version gets a lower grille, sloping headlights and broader shoulders, while in back, the sloped rear window and spoiler remain.
Due to its high bumper and the absence of a prominent chin spoiler, the Lexus benefits from a good approach angle, although its departure angle is average at best. That’s not a major issue since we don’t expect many RX customers to go rock hopping.
Overall, the Lexus looks good, but its styling is a little too generic for our tastes.
The RX 350 boasts a 3.5-litre V6 that develops 275 horses and 257 lb-ft of torque. That’s more than enough gusto for this SUV, as it hits 100 km/h in 7.8 seconds and the quarter-mile in 15.7 seconds at 142 km/h.
As for fuel economy, our average is 11.8 L/100 km with a mix of city and highway driving, which is quite good. We actually dipped below 10 L/100 km in the midst of a recent comparison test.
Unsurprisingly, the Lexus doesn’t exploit a sporty driving character as a few of its competitors, namely the Acura RDX, Audi Q5 and BMW X3, but can handle itself pretty nonetheless. The RX does excel in ride quality and cabin quietness, though.
Under normal driving conditions, the RX’s all-wheel drive system sends 100% of the power to the front wheels. When wheel slippage is detected, up to 50% of available power can be dialed back to the rear wheels. At low speeds, however, the driver can manually lock the system in a 50/50 split as needed.
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