The RX 350 was a move by Lexus to satisfy the luxury minded crossover owner who needed more seating for his family or daily commuting coworkers – I suppose. And before I say anything else, let me offset my comments with – there are many, many wonderful things to like about Lexus in general and the RX series specifically. Okay, having said that, here comes the bomb – Personally, I think Lexus has ‘missed the mark’ with the 350. The idea was to add a few inches to the overall length of the vehicle, balance it all out, and have people raving about having 7 passenger capacity. They missed. Yes, they have third row seating. But those seats can only accommodate small children at best. There is virtually almost no leg room, even with row two seats moved forward as far as they can and still able to accommodate two adults. The pictures always make it look like it is easy to get into the third row as well. Sorry, not happening – unless you are under 25, weigh 140lbs or less and are very limber – small children, no problem; average size adult over 40, “grande problema”, as my Argentine partner would say.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, look at this picture and tell me I am wrong. The front row has to accommodate the second row, which HAS to accommodate the third row, which, when accommodated, still doesn’t have enough leg room for anyone to be comfortable. Stop the insanity, just stop it. I know you guys spent a ton of money on design, but come on Lexus, stand up, say we missed and stop trying to sell them.
At this point I feel bad about saying less than favorable things about any Lexus, but my job is to let the consumer know what I think is good and not so good about a vehicle these days. If I raved about it and you bought and said “Hey, this isn’t what I understood it to be”, who are you going to blame? The dealership? No. Me, that’s who. Okay, since I have ruined my creditability with Lexus, let me tell you a couple of more things I would put in ‘poor’ column, and then I promise to point out all the wonderful features of the RX 350.
I am not a fan of Remote Touch, the rectangular knob, which resides at your fingertips, if your arm is on the rest to your right. One, it is very sensitive and difficult for a Neanderthal, like me, to use. No, that’s no true – yes, I am a Neanderthal, but I think it is difficult for most people to use. It is very sensitive for one thing, so controlling exactly where you want to go isn’t easy. Plus, if you accidentally brush it while resting your arm, there’s no telling what’s going to show up on your display screen. To mitigate that somewhat and really show case technology capability, the Lexus RX has Voice Command that allows you to not only make voice calls, but also control sound, climate and navigation with your voice. One touch on the steering wheel and you can work a lot of magic without taking your eyes off the road.
Last in my less than the best column would be the horsepower for the RX 350. I took the following right from their site – “With a 3.5-liter V6 engine with direct and port fuel injection, the RX 350 and RX 350L are specially tuned for fuel efficiency and low emissions.” Hmmmm, personally, when carrying four or more adults, plus cargo, plus I am in traffic or on the open road, I am also very interested in power and response. With 295 HP, the engine is adequate and very good at what it is designed for fuel efficiency and low emissions, but I would like to see more power in the engine for a vehicle this size.
Okay, that’s enough disappointment in a car of this caliber, so let’s ‘accentuate the positive’, as Bing Crosby once sang – you know, Bing – I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas, Bing. Yes, he actually sang many other songs. Google the lyrics above to see. We’ll put that in the ‘life’ part of our column.
Back to the car – let’s point out some of the many wonderful features of the Lexus RX 350. While styling and the beauty of the interior are the first things that capture our visual attention, safety, to me anyway, has to be the first point of consideration in any new car purchase these days. It needs to keep me out of an accident if at all possible and mitigate bad results if I am in an accident. The Lexus RX 350 and really, most Lexus vehicles, get accolades in those departments.
How about this, Lexus has an Enform Safety Connect that can send any needed emergency assistance to your vehicle’s GPS. Hope you or I never need it. Glad to know we have it. All your information is on the 12.3” display, a big monitor that makes it easy to glance and know what you need. That is if the information isn’t shown on your wonderful Heads Up Display. Okay, I strayed a little from safety but I am back on it now.
Again, taken directly from the website, these are words every Dad, Grandad, or Great Grandad are looking for – The most comprehensive safety system ever offered on the RX, Lexus Safety System+ is designed to help pave the way to a world with fewer collisions and better-informed drivers. An integrated suite of advanced active safety equipment, the system is designed to help in certain circumstances, from providing pedestrian alerts to preventing lane drift.
What does that include? Pre-collision warning system for vehicles and pedestrians, both audible and visual warning, plus automatic braking. I’m loving this. I never thought much about pedestrian crossings until we moved here to Pinehurst. In several places on some of the major streets there is striping to indicate where pedestrians can walk. Rule 1 – Pedestrians have the right of way. It isn’t a nice gesture. It’s logical and the law. It is meant to keep people, averaging 150 pounds, from being pounded by a car, weighing 2000 pounds or more. If people don’t know what the white striping means, someone can get in trouble in a hurry. Most pedestrians look to see if a car is coming and if it is going to stop so they can cross. Let’s face it, who loses in the wrong encounter? It isn’t the car, at least damage wise, so pedestrians should look, both ways, to make sure they keep walking. But as drivers, we are supposed to know what the white stripes mean, note if there are people trying to cross, and unless there is some pressing emergency, stop so they can cross safely. We, who have stopped, serve as the shield to allow them to cross. The misunderstanding of this simple premise was brought home a few weeks ago when one car stopped to let a golf cart cross the road in its well defined white stripe area, a normality here in golf rich Pinehurst, but the car coming the opposite way, for whatever reason, refused to stop, and the subsequent crash left the golf cart driver dead. How many bad things could be avoided if we only paid attention? Maybe this technology could have saved a life that day. I wish it had.
Back to the car helping us – we also have Lane Departure Alert with Lane Keep Assist. Using high resolution cameras to monitor lane markings the system vibrates the steering wheel and uses audible and visual warning to get the driver back on track. I am not a fan of vibrating steering wheels or seats, because the startle me, but if they work to keep people, and me, in their correct lanes, vibrate away. If you are on radar cruise control, as on the interstate, the Lane Keep actually helps keep you in the center of the lane.
The reference to Interstate driving leads into All Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, the system that controls your speed and monitors who is in front of you and what they are doing, slowing you down based on the car’s speed in front of you, and returning to the set speed when the lane is clear. Love it.
The Lexus RX 350 has Intelligent High Beams, too, that keep your light bright when the road is open and switches to low beams when other lights are encountered. I like this feature and always have.
Also, I can’t leave a Lexus review without saying some words about comfort, style, and quiet. How about comfort with separately heated and cooled front seats, zone heating and cooling for the back. Lexus has cleverly incorporated both leather and non-leather accessories to the vehicle, and it would take a better eye than mine to tell the difference. Seats are not leather and are called NuLuxe – half the weight of leather, but just as good looking and supple. Panel and dash trimming as well as the driver’s steering wheel are leather. The steering wheel is heated, of course. Front seats are adjustable 10 ways, including adjustable head rests, Rear seats fold down with the push of a button. There’s a panoramic sun roof, a touch free power rear door that opens with a wave of the hand, or get this, elbow. Now that’s cool. There’s UV reduction exterior glass that keeps damaging UV rays out of the cabin – loving it. There are auto-dimming outside mirrors that help reduce glare from bright lights behind you – gotta love it. Oh, and did I tell you it rides like a dream, seriously, and has three drive modes, normal (why would you ever change), sport (in a big crossover, please), and ECO (good for the open road and long distances).
Okay, let’s see – you have grand looks, great ride, unbelievable comfort, wonderful bells and whistles, 8 speed transmission, 27mpg highway, and a price tag starting at $43K and running up to $54K, it is a LOT of car for the money! Who needs three seats anyway? Not this retiree and his babe. Sure looks good in my driveway … the car that is. This could be trouble. I’m pretty sure whatever I say next is going to need explaining.
# # #
To find a Lexus dealer near you, log onto https://www.lexus.com/dealers
# # # # #
In the PINEHURST area, contact:
JOHNSON LEXUS OF DURHAM at 1013 Southpoint Auto Park, Durham, NC 27713;
FLOW LEXUS OF GREENSBORO at 85 Norwalk Street, Greensboro, NC 27407; and
JOHNSON LEXUS OF RALEIGH at 5839 Capital Boulevard, Raleigh, NC 27626.
# # # # # # #
In the NEW YORK METROPOLITAN area, contact:
LEXUS OF MANHATTAN, 627 11th Avenue, New York City, NY 10036;
RAY CATENA LEXUS, 1435 Boston Post Road, Larchmont, NY 10538;
LEXUS OF MT. KISCO, 75 Kisco Avenue, Mt. Kisco, NY 10549;
LEXUS OF GREENWICH, 19 Railroad Avenue, Greenwich, CT 06830; and
LEXUS OF QUEENS, 4040 Northern Blvd., Long Island City, NY 11101.