2011 Lexus RX 350 AWD

Matt Tierney

It's easy to hold up the RX as a symbol of what's wrong with the Lexus brand -- dull to look at, dull to drive, far too common -- but as an actual vehicle it remains quite good. The RX exudes a sense of solidity that goes beyond its size. The interior, though dour and dark for my tastes, fits together impeccably and filters out just about all outside noise. Toyota's 3.5-liter V-6 has to work pretty hard to hustle the RX350's 4343 pounds, but it's one of the most refined six-cylinders on the market, so it never sounds unpleasantly strained. I'm always surprised by how firm the steering and suspension are in this crossover. It's not an athletic, involving machine, but neither is it a flaccid one.

Ironically, if there's anything really wrong with the RX, it's that competitors have so successfully targeted it. The brand so often accused of knowing only how to imitate basically invented this segment years ago, forcing everyone from Audi to Saab to scramble for a response. Now many of those competitors look and/or drive better than the RX, which has pretty stayed much the same.

David Zenlea, Assistant Editor

I spent the Labor Day weekend with the RX. Unfortunately, I also worked pretty much the entire Labor Day weekend, so I didn't actually drive it that much. However, this is the perfect car to get into when you're a little burned out and just want a nice, uneventful drive home. The seats are comfortable, the controls are familiar, and the powertrain is exceptionally smooth. This particular RX350 was equipped with the luxury package, which coddles even further. However, $4900 seems like an awful lot of money for leather, a moonroof, heated mirrors, a wide-angle camera, and bigger wheels. I did appreciate the heated/ventilated seats, which are part of a separate $1900 comfort package and did a decent job of cooling me down on a 90-plus-degree Saturday.

Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor

I was shocked by the as-tested price of our RX350. I still think of the Lexus RX as being about a $40,000 vehicle. For this kind of money, I'd much rather have an Audi Q5 or BMW X3, but I fully understand the RX350's appeal and why it is the bestselling Lexus model. It's quiet, luxurious, and refined, and it's easy to get into and out of yet is tall enough to provide a feeling of security for people who like to ride a bit higher than you can in a sedan.

Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor

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I was also surprised at how firmly this thing rides. The problem is that there's no real payoff in the handling. Our MDX (with the magneto-rheological dampers) both rides better and handles MUCH better than the RX, and it will transport 7 people in a pinch.The wood and leather are nicer in the RX, but the MDX is the better vehicle.

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