Plush ride, composed handling, energetic performance, comfortable seating front and rear, user-friendly multifunction controller.
No third seat option, lost some cargo space, styling may not appeal to everyone.
It's fitting that the 2010 Lexus RX 350 was introduced in Napa Valley, California, the heartland of American wineries. When crafting a delicate Pinot Noir, taking a conservative approach is well advised. One false step can be the difference between perfection and swill. And much like a fine wine, Lexus' best-selling vehicle was developed carefully in a measured, logical fashion; one false, radical step could mean the difference between star and also-ran.
Though at a passing glance the 2010 RX 350 looks similar to the outgoing model, not much is shared between the two. Yet with the exception of semi-significant increases in track width (2.2 inches front, 2.6 inches rear), most key dimensions are similar to last year's RX. However, with a weight gain of more than 400 pounds, the 2010 RX 350 is substantially more full-bodied.
There are a couple of solid reasons for the increased mass — a more robust structure to promote greater crashworthiness and more standard features. The latter include heavier 18-inch wheels and tires (versus last year's 17s), bigger brakes and a keyless ignition system. Because of the typical negative effects on performance and fuel economy, we usually regard weight gain with the same disdain as The Biggest Loser fitness instructors do. Yet it doesn't seem to affect the new RX 350 which, based on our back-to-back drives of 2009 and 2010 editions, feels more athletic thanks to sharpened steering and a revamped suspension. The latter features a rear double-wishbone setup that not only improves handling but opens up more cargo space behind the seats thanks to its more compact design.
In addition to its more composed road manners, the 2010 Lexus RX 350 also brings an easier way to operate its available navigation system. Called Remote Touch, the new interface replaces the former touchscreen setup with a mouselike controller located on the center console. The new interface is immediately intuitive and a comfort to those spooked by previous exposure to multifunction controllers (iDrive, anyone?).
As before, the Lexus RX 350 is a pleasant drive. Incrementally improved, the latest RX should prove to be as palatable to luxury SUV consumers as a carefully crafted Pinot Noir.
Under the Lexus RX 350's hood is the familiar and well-respected Toyota/Lexus 3.5-liter V6, but various revisions (intake and exhaust systems, cylinder heads) bump up the output to 275 horsepower and 257 pound-feet of torque (up 5 hp and 6 lb-ft, respectively). A new six-speed automatic offers one more gear than last year, and the greater spread of ratios allows the new RX 350 to be as quick as the lighter, previous version. Lexus puts the 0-60-mph dash at a quick 7.4 seconds for the front-drive version and 7.5 ticks with AWD. Yet this performance comes with improved fuel economy as well, standing at 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway for FWD and18/24 for the AWD, according to Lexus.
As before, the RX performs admirably without calling attention to itself. The transmission shifts so smoothly that oftentimes only the telltale, sudden movement of the tachometer's needle is proof that a gearchange has occurred. Similarly, braking performance is linear and smooth.
But it's in the area of handling where the new RX shows the most improvement. While we still wouldn't call it sporty — though the steering is quick and precise, it still lacks road feel — the 2010 Lexus RX feels confident on a winding road. Even with the added pudge factor, body roll is kept in check and the ride is, as expected, luxuriously smooth and quiet. We also sampled an RX 350 with the optional sport suspension, but apart from a somewhat firmer ride, we didn't notice much of a difference. In fairness, we didn't push it that hard (no track time at this event) but we imagine that most RX intenders would be happy with the standard setup.
Softly padded but well-shaped, the front seats offer enough support to make an all-day drive comfortable. The power tilt-telescoping steering wheel was welcomed by short and tall editors alike. The second-row seats are up high enough to provide proper thigh support and, as with the previous generation, recline and slide to adjust to a variety of passengers. The lack of a third seat option with this redesign may seem odd to some folks, but consumer feedback told Lexus that current (and perhaps future) RX owners felt that the vehicle's size was just right and that a third row wasn't a requirement.
In keeping with Lexus tradition, the 2010 RX 350 doesn't overwhelm its driver with the operation of its luxury features. The aforementioned Remote Touch control is one good example. If you've ever used a computer mouse, then it should be immediately familiar — simply move the omni-directional knob to move the screen's cursor and then thumb-click the side-mounted "enter" button to select whatever you're pointing at. Also appreciated are the stereo's inclusion of time-tested volume and tuning knobs and the newly standard keyless ignition/entry system.
In addition to optimizing occupant comfort, those multiadjustable second-row seats also make installing a baby seat easier. By sliding back, they allow more room for a parent to maneuver the seat into place, while the recline feature can adjust to suit the angle of the baby seat when facing forward.
Compared to last year's RX 350, cargo space with the second-row seats raised increases by a couple of cubic feet to 40 cubes. Flipping the rear seats down (which can also be done easily via release handles in the cargo bay) reveals a respectable 80.3 cubic feet, which is nevertheless down 5 cubes compared to the '09 RX. Though we can't imagine RX owners hauling anything bigger than a few sets of Pings and/or a couple of Louis Vuitton bags, it can tow up to 3,500 pounds.
Design/Fit and Finish
Looking at the 2010 Lexus RX 350 straight on, you may confuse it with an IS sedan, as the trapezoidal grille looks as if it was lifted from that car. A closer look reveals the top edge of the grille bleeding into the Camry-like headlights. The overall profile and window treatment mimics the outgoing RX. But the new sheet metal has some strange contours — notably down low on the rear doors — ostensibly to give it a sporty look. Out back, the distinctive taillights that melded with the rear window are gone, replaced by more generic units set into the more standard location below. We prefer last year's styling, but that's just us.
The cabin is cleanly styled and fitted with quality materials (including real walnut wood accents) assembled with great care. Our test vehicles were pre-production units, but you'd never guess that given their excellent build quality. There were no squeaks or rattles, even when cruising along a Napa Valley vineyard trail.
Who should consider this vehicle
Previous (and current) owners of any Lexus RX as well as anyone looking for a midsize luxury SUV that provides comfort and impeccable build quality, as well as a sterling reputation for reliability and low upkeep costs.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.
2010 Lexus RX 350 Overview Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2010 Lexus RX 350 and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2010 RX 350 featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
Our Review Process This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.
Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2010 Lexus RX 350 and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2010 RX 350 4.3 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2010 RX 350.
Review After having a 2004 Lexus 330 RX for 7 years, I was thrilled to get a new 2010 350 RX last October. Very quickly I began to realize that the ride and the drive were clearly not the same. The 2010 is the roughest ride ever. I have complained at the dealership and had it checked out and they say everything is as it should be but I continue to bounce and rock sideways over the slightest bumps. Also the cargo pad is worthless. It is thin and has no substance and has wrinkled into a gnarly mess. The dealership says we had to have closed the cargo door on it and that just did not happen. The 2004 was a stronger fabric and much higher quality.
Edmunds Value Edmunds has deep data on over 6 million new, used, and certified pre-owned vehicles, including rich, trim-level features and specs information like: MSRP, average price paid, warranty information (basic, drivetrain, and maintenance), features (upholstery, bluetooth, navigation, heated seating, cooled seating, cruise control, parking assistance, keyless ignition, satellite radio, folding rears seats ,run flat tires, wheel type, tire size, wheel tire, sunroof, etc.), vehicle specifications (engine cylinder count, drivetrain, engine power, engine torque, engine displacement, transmission), fuel economy (city, highway, combined, fuel capacity, range), vehicle dimensions (length, width, seating capacity, cargo space), car safety, true cost to own. Edmunds also provides tools to allow shopper to compare vehicles to similar models of their choosing by warranty, interior features, exterior features, specifications, fuel economy, vehicle dimensions, consumer rating, edmunds rating, and color
Available Lexus RX 350 2010 Submodel Types: SUV
Available Trims: Base, F SPORT, Crafted Line
Exterior Colors: Nebula Gray Pearl, Eminent White Pearl, Obsidian, Atomic Silver, Starfire Pearl, Nightfall Mica, Silver Lining Metallic, Caviar, Stargazer Black, Satin Cashmere Metallic, Matador Red Mica, Ultra White, Tungsten Pearl, Claret Mica, Smoky Granite Mica, Deep Sea Mica, Breakwater Blue Metallic, Crystal White, Truffle Mica, Millennium Silver Metallic, Autumn Shimmer, Flint Mica, Classic Silver Metallic, Black Onyx, Cerulean Blue Metallic, Fire Agate Pearl, Millennium Silver, Black, Golden Almond Metallic, Desert Sage Metallic, Neptune Blue Mica, Savannah Metallic, Crystal White Mica, Black Sapphire Pearl, Bamboo Pearl, Brandywine Mica
Interior Colors: Parchment leather, Black leather, Noble Brown premium leather, Black leatherette, Stratus Gray leather, Rioja Red leather, Light Gray leather, Light Gray premium leather, Saddle Tan leather, Ivory cloth, Black premium leather, Saddle Tan premium leather, Parchment premium leather, Black cloth, Perforated Black leather, Ivory leather, Stratus Gray leatherette, Cabernet leather, Light Gray cloth, Black/Cabernet leather
Popular Features: Alarm, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Auto Climate Control, Fold Flat Rear Seats, Multi-Zone Climate Control, Power Driver Seat, Rear Bench Seats, Stability Control, Tire Pressure Warning, Trip Computer, 3500lb Towing Capacity, AWD/4WD, Bluetooth, Post-collision safety system, Power Liftgate/Trunk, Aux Audio Inputs, USB Inputs, Back-up camera, Keyless Entry/Start, Upgraded Headlights, Heated seats, Leather Seats, Sunroof/Moonroof, Cooled Seats, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, Pre-collision safety system, Blind Spot Monitoring, Navigation, Upgraded Stereo, Electronic Folding Mirrors, Heads up display, 360-degree camera, Parking sensors, Towing Hitch, Remote Start