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

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2010 Lexus RX

Surrey, British Columbia – What’s very different, yet not obvious, about the just-released and completely redesigned 2010 Lexus RX 350? It’s the first Lexus to be built outside of Japan – and it’s built in Canada in Cambridge, Ontario.

A stalwart of the Lexus lineup for over 10 years, the new RX 350, like its two predecessors (RX 300 and RX 330), is a mid-sized luxury utility vehicle based on a unibody car chassis.

The overall package is a familiar one and the new RX does not look dramatically different, yet the changes are significant. Dimensionally it’s a little longer, wider, and lower and it has a longer wheelbase. Yet you have to drive this RX to really appreciate the improvements in both handling and performance.

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

An important key to its sharpened handling characteristics is a new double-wishbone rear suspension, plus a wider wheel track (by 69.9 millimetres). Its drivetrain is positioned lower, and that also lowers the overall centre of gravity of the vehicle. In addition, the compactness of the new rear suspension yields some extra cargo room on the inside.

At first glance, the increase in engine horsepower (270 to 275) may seem timid, but the new 3.5-litre V6 can now produce a lot more torque at lower engine speeds, and it’s more fuel efficient too. Over 90 per cent of its 257 lb-ft of peak torque is available from 2,300 all the way up to 6,100 rpm.

A new six-speed automatic transmission replaces the old five-speed. It comes with a new torque-converter lockup system that improves fuel economy, plus a new quick-response downshift control that allows it to rapidly downshift multiple gears at a one time, when the gas pedal is forcefully applied.

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

The new RX 350 is a “don’t mess with success” redesign that retains key design traits of the last generation RX, yet introduces subtle styling revisions that incorporate what Lexus calls its new “L-finesse” corporate design philosophy. A deep, well-defined front-to-rear character line is a prominent styling cue. Starting at the front grille, it helps emphasize the broad front fenders of the RX, sweeps back through its doors, accentuates rear fender flares and merges into a new design rear taillight.

In addition, to help make the RX even more aerodynamic, a clever new design feature of the rear window spoiler is that it hides the wiper system and has a built-in radio antenna, plus high-mount stop lamp.

The side mirrors have integrated LED turn signals and the RX 350 comes with a new touch-sensor smart switch on the front door handles: instead of a push button, you simply run a finger across this sensor to lock the doors.

Interior impressions

Keyless entry and engine start, high-quality, black-leather upholstery and rich-looking real wood trim give an immediate air of affluence. A power-operated tilt and telescopic steering column was another classy inclusion, and my test RX 350 came with a 15-speaker Mark Levinson sound system.

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