Test Drive: 2012 Lexus RX 350 car test drives reviews luxury cars lexus
2012 Lexus RX 350. Click image to enlarge
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Lexus Canada

Review and photos by Paul Williams

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2012 Lexus RX 350

The Lexus company is fond of claiming that it invented the luxury crossover segment, and the fact is, they have a point. The RX model debuted in 1998 and caused something of a sensation at that time. The idea that you could make a “truck” — or an “SUV” as they came to be called for the next decade or so — a luxury oriented, somewhat softly sprung family vehicle was either a master stroke or a really dumb idea.

Turns out RXs sold very well indeed and opened the floodgates for similar vehicles thereafter. Over the years the RX has grown from compact to mid-size, and is still the only Lexus product built outside of Japan (in Cambridge, Ontario, to be precise). Now, the luxury crossover is an established segment, and this model is a Canadian success story.

The 2012 RX 350 starts at $44,950 (plus a hefty $1,950 freight and pre-delivery charge), but is reasonably equipped at that price. Standard features include seating for five occupants, 18-inch aluminum wheels, dual-zone climate control with dust, pollen, and deodorizing air filter, Bluetooth, XM satellite radio, power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, moonroof, roof mounted spoiler, and eight-way power front seats.

Test Drive: 2012 Lexus RX 350 car test drives reviews luxury cars lexus
Test Drive: 2012 Lexus RX 350 car test drives reviews luxury cars lexus
2012 Lexus RX 350. Click image to enlarge

Note that the standard upholstery in the base vehicle is fabric; you’ll have to pay an extra $5,000 for leather, which is part of the Premium Package. Other packages are similarly pricey, ranging up to $17,900 for the Ultra Premium Package 2.

Our tester arrived with the Ultra Premium Package 1 ($14,500), taking its price to $61,535, including freight and minor taxes and fees (plus sales taxes, in other words). This package pretty much loads the RX 350, and includes 19-inch alloy wheels, the Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management system, 15-speaker Mark Levinson audio, premium leather upholstery with heated and ventilated front seats, navigation, leather and wood trim, adaptive front lighting, and power retractable auto-dimming side mirrors. There’s more, but these are highlights. Missing from this package are the optional head-up display, pre-collision system, and dynamic cruise control.

Power comes from a 3.5L V6 engine making 275 horsepower and 257 pound-feet of torque mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with sequential shift mode. All-wheel drive with active torque control is standard, as is a manual locking centre differential. The RX 350 is capable of towing 1,587 kg (3,500 lb), and has comparatively good fuel consumption number of 11.8/8.3/10.2 L/100 km, city/highway/combined. Its 72.5 L tank gives the RX 350 a realistic highway range of over 600 kilometres.

The fit and finish in this vehicle is exquisite, and the cabin is whisper quiet at all speeds. The multi-adjustable seats and steering column should enable nearly all drivers to find a comfortable position. Headroom is very good; there is even a power thigh support control for the front seats.

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