2010 Lexus RX 350
2010 Lexus RX 350. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Grant Yoxon

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2010 Lexus RX

We challenged Mother Nature to Bring it On! But she took one look at the vehicles we were driving and chickened out. Unlike other parts of Canada (I can hear you Maritimes), spring came early to Ontario. It is just the first of April and all the snow is gone, even here in normally-colder-than-the-rest-of-Ontario, Ottawa.

All that is left of Ottawa roads is crumbling asphalt, huge potholes lurking beneath puddles and frost heaves that criss-cross streets like concrete curbs. The road hazards are hard on shocks and springs, risky for low profile tires and expensive wheels and generally uncomfortable in most any vehicle…

..except the 2010 Lexus RX 350, which seemed unperturbed by the decaying pavement. In the three plus weeks that we drove the new RX, we were pleased with how it smoothed out the rough roads with its ultra-comfortable ride. With SUVs (or is it crossovers?) running the gamut from all-terrain trucks to suburban cruisers, the Lexus can be positioned right at the far end of the cruiser side of the scale. You can outfit the RX with a sport package that adds “sport tuned” suspension and 19-inch alloy wheels, but the ride is still cushy comfortable. This is a crowded segment, with plenty to choose from, but few utility vehicles can match the comfort of the Lexus.

2010 Lexus RX 350
2010 Lexus RX 350
2010 Lexus RX 350. Click image to enlarge

But comfortable does not equal slow or unwieldy. Despite gaining 115 kg over last year’s model, the extra weight only serves to make the RX feel more solid. Its revised 3.5-litre engine never feels underpowered. The RX accelerates briskly and handling is much improved thanks to more responsive electric power steering, a much wider track and improved rear suspension.

You’d be hard pressed to classify the Lexus RX 350 as an “entry level luxury vehicle” although, in the Lexus line-up that is exactly what it is. With features like dual zone climate control, real wood trim, eight-way power passenger seat, eight-inch LCD display and push button start, the base RX 350 feels anything but base. Load it up with the ultra premium package, as our tester was equipped, and one has to ask how much more luxurious can it get? Check some of these features: rear backup camera and wide-view side monitor, heads-up display, navigation system, 15-speaker Mark Levinson audio, dual screen rear entertainment system, adaptive front lighting with Bi-Xenon HID headlamps. And leather of course.

Standard active and passive safety features are top of the line as well – 10 standard air bags, all-wheel drive, stability control, traction control, anti-lock brakes with brake assist, and available Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM). Check last week’s instalment for the details.

With a base price of $46,900 and an as tested price of $62,200, owning an entry level Lexus is a serious financial commitment. But if driving around with all this luxury makes you feel a bit guilty, just remember that Canadians built it in Cambridge, Ontario. It makes buying a Lexus seem like a patriotic duty.

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