The RX luxury crossover vehicle has been a huge success for Lexus. Introduced in 1998, the RX is now in its third-generation and selling at a strong pace.
The RX 350 was reintroduced as an all-new model for the 2010 model year and 2011 brings only a few changes, including the new Smart Stop Technology and a several color changes.
• Smart Stop Technology — a braking system enhancement that automatically reduces engine power when the brake pedal and accelerator pedal are applied simultaneously under certain driving conditions.
• Color Changes — New exterior colors are Satin Cashmere Mica (replaces Golden Almond Metallic) and Stargazer Black; Truffle Mica and Black Sapphire Pearl have been discontinued.
The Lexus RX is a good looking vehicle, with a sleek profile accentuated by pronounced front fenders that flow into the doors and rear fender flares that sweep around to pull the corners together. A rear spoiler helps aerodynamically and conceals the rear wiper and houses the AM/FM radio antenna and high-mount stoplight. Up front, the grille is situated lower than the headlights (standard halogen or optional HID) and the lower edges of the grille form a unique arrowhead design.
Under the hood, the Lexus RX 350 is powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 engine mated to a six-speed Multi-Mode Automatic Transmission and makes 275 hp at 6,200 rpm. Intake and exhaust manifolds have been tuned for better performance and fuel economy. Lexus also maximized the torque output to better meet the needs of luxury crossover drivers, with 90 percent or more of the peak torque available from 2,300 to 6,100 rpm, where torque is most utilized. Dual Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) is used to control both intake and exhaust camshafts independently, optimizing engine performance at all speeds and loads.
The six-speed automatic transmission has a quick-shifting response with help from miniature high-flow linear solenoids that control transmission-fluid line-pressure. The torque converter uses a low-speed lockup damper to enable lock-up from second to sixth gear and improve fuel economy.
When applying the accelerator pedal rapidly during kick-down, the direct-downshift control allows the transmission to directly shift from sixth to third or fifth to second, skipping the intermediate gears to get the quickest response. With the Multi-Mode Automatic Transmission, the driver can shift manually by moving the gated shift lever to the “S” slot, then pushing it forward to up shift and backward to downshift.
Lexus offers the RX 350 with a choice between front-wheel drive (FWD) and an electronically controlled Active Torque Control all-wheel drive (AWD) system.
Pricing on the 2011 Lexus RX 350 starts at $37,975.
Ron Beasley is the automotive editor for Miami’s Community Newspapers. He may be contacted by calling 305-662-2277, ext. 261, or by addressing email correspondence to LetsTalkCars@aol.com.