By Cars.com EditorsSeptember 22, 2014
About the video
Cars.com reviewer Bill Jackson said the Lexus RX 350 luxury crossover returns for 2015 as a "comfortable car that impresses with its responsive engine, general comfort, but comes up short in a few areas." Watch the video above for more.
(hood thuds) (engine turns over) (tires screech) The Lexus RX was an early entry into the field of luxury crossover SUV's.
For 2015, the RX 350 is a comfortable car that impresses with its responsive engine, general comfort, but comes up short in a few areas. The engine and transmission are a standout positive feature of the RX 350. It really gets up and goes, whether you're trying to accelerate away from a stoplight or making a pass on the highway. A standout negative feature, though, I'm afraid, is the steering; it's over boosted. There's just too much assist. Now, that's not always bad. If you're driving around a parking lot, for instance, that's when you want all that boost. The problem comes in at highway speeds. There's just no sensation of how far you're turning the wheel. It took me a long time to get used to it. And I think Lexus would be better served to just dial it back a little bit at the higher speeds. Moving inside the RX 350, it's kind of a mixed bag. I liked how everything was laid out; it's very easy to find, very easy to just get in and drive, and there's not a lot of programs you have to adjust. So the RX 350 was recently redesigned, and there's not a lot that's brand new inside here. But one thing that has changed is this multimedia system input. And it's not so great. The old system I liked a lot. It had a pretty stiff joystick here. It also had buttons on either side for inputs. It was pretty easy to use, sort of like using a mouse on your desk at work. It was great. The new system, there's just no sensation of where you are when you move this around. It's very hard to make a selection on the menu. And finally, the buttons on the side are gone, and so to make any sort of input, you have to press down the button. Many times, I felt like that moved the cursor around to where I didn't want it to be. I just can't think that this is an improvement over what was there. Now, judging by the layout and the interior of the RX, I just wasn't wowed. I kinda got in and thought, "Wow, this is one nice Toyota." Toyota's the parent company of Lexus, in case you didn't know. It's not that this is bad or ugly or cheap or anything. It's just that, first of all, we're paying more than $2,700 for the premium package to get this interior, and I just wasn't wowed the way I was in interiors from competitors such as Audi and Acura. Moving back to the second row, the room is acceptable. I'm 6'2", I've got the seat where I would have it, and as you can see, I've got plenty of leg room. Head room is also nice. The only thing I would say is that the seat is a little low, so my knees are just a touch higher than what I would normally like them to be. But this is nowhere near as claustrophobic as some other SUVs in this class can be. Now, the RX 350 is obviously an SUV, so it's good for carrying cargo. What's nice is that Lexus included a few thoughtful features to make it easier to live with. For starters, there are these levers that fold the rear seats. Okay. A lot of people do that. But it is sort of nice if you're carrying large or long items. What Lexus thought of that's really nice is, that rear seat slides and reclines, and no matter how far it moves, there's a little flap there that covers the cargo area so there's no gap for small things to fall into. It's just a little feature, but I found that I really liked it. So overall, looking at the RX 350 as a whole, it doesn't really offer a rewarding driving experience. Yes, there is that responsive engine, but the steering is just too numb to take advantage of it. Also, that multimedia system control just isn't up to par. Now, the positives are what you would want in a luxury car. That same comfort that maybe deadens the enjoyment for the driving enthusiast makes it a good car to just eat up the miles. The lack of road noise, the lack of wind noise, is really nice. So after breaking new ground many years ago and being one of the first on the scene with a luxury SUV, it's nice to see that Lexus hasn't really messed up the RX, but I don't think they've taken a universal step forward. (engine revs)
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