2010 Lexus RX 350 – Still the Smooth Operator of Crossovers

January 9, 2019/Steve Tackett

MOTOR MATTERS NEW ON WHEELS BY BILL VISNIC

The simple reason the RX 350 crossover is by far the most-purchased model in the Lexus range: it’s sophisticated, versatile and by most metrics still the industry’s best all-around premium crossover.
Take note of that “all-around” qualifier (there’s always a qualifier in a car market that offers something like 350 individual models these days). After all, there are other premium crossovers that handle better or have a more powerful engine or more gears in the transmission. But viewed as an entire package, sort of how you’d scout a multi-talented baseball player, the RX 350 proves why it’s been the industry benchmark since it was first launched in 1998.
For 2010, Lexus has upgraded the RX 350 with a few extra enticements, such as another 5 horsepower for its buttery 2.5-liter V-6; a more efficient 6-speed automatic transmission; and a more effective $38,200 all-wheel-drive system — although front-wheel-drive remains standard.
But really, those who gravitate to Lexus don’t do it for horsepower or because of an intense interest in the oily parts. They go Lexus because they expect supreme refinement, scads of convenience and tech features and utter comfort.
Buyers get all of that with the 2010 RX 350, plus the handy utility that helped make the RX the template pretty much all midsize crossovers — premium or not — have copied. This means the kind of right-sizing that doesn’t mess around trying to wedge in one of those “kids only” third-row seats, and offers the security of all-weather all-wheel-drive capability, as well as enough towing capacity (3,500 pounds) to pull most reasonable lifestyle toys.
Nobody’s going to find fault with the 3.5-liter V-6’s turbine-steady 275 horsepower, but Lexus engineers really shouldn’t demand premium unleaded to get it. A new 6-speed automatic transmission improves on the dated 5-speeder Lexus slyly foisted on last year’s buyers.
We suspect most RX 350s are sold the instant a buyer’s butt first meets seat. Although we question leather seating still being optional (part of the $2,400 premium package) for a car of this caliber, you can’t escape the immediate impression the RX’s interior makes: there’s real depth and density to the materials and the attention build quality is front and center. Some premium vehicles sort of pretend on these points — door armrests tacked with flimsy pseudo-lux material, for example — but the RX 350 walks the walk.
We particularly like the control cocoon the RX 350’s interior layout creates.

2010 Lexus RX 350

Multi-adjustable seats, one of the best steering wheels in the business and a cozy-but-not-too-close proximity for the center console puts everything in comfortable reach.
And while we’re about it, we’ll reservedly recommend the pricey $2,440 navigation system option because it includes the superb Remote Touch controller, Lexus’ answer to the seemingly increasing need for all-commanding control “mouse” to handle the growing number of onboard tech and communication features.
The RX 350’s Remote Touch module is placed where your hand can rest comfortably, almost reassuringly, upon it, while the joystick-like input stick generates a gentle “haptic” feedback that prevents the cursor from flying wildly about and confirms your inputs. Remote Touch makes the system’s effective voice controls an unfortunate redundancy however.
All is not perfect with the interior, mind you. There are two 12-volt power outlets; both are inconveniently sited in the deep and oh-so-dark box in the center console. At the upper rear edge of the driver’s side window, our tester had an intense wind howl at highway speeds that we have to believe is not representative of all RXs. And if there’s a fussier cover for the cargo bay, we haven’t seen it.
The RX 350 wraps it all with a refined, discreet styling. The RX 350 manages to look sleek, adeptly disguising its pudgy and fuel-economy-killing 4,334-pound curb weight — the price most customers happily pay to hit the road in the market’s most well rounded luxury crossover. — Bill Visnic, Motor Matters

Next New On Wheels (Bonus Wheels): 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid

RX 350 front interior

SPECIFICATIONS
2010 LEXUS RX 350
VEHICLE TYPE_________________ 5-passenger AWD midsize crossover
BASE PRICE___________________ $38,200 (as tested: $48,061)
ENGINE TYPE__________________ 24-valve DOHC V-6
DISPLACEMENT_________________ 3.5-liter
HORSEPOWER (net)_____________ 275 at 6200 rpm
TORQUE (lb.-ft.)_____________ 257 at 4700 rpm
TRANSMISSION_________________ 6-speed automatic
WHEELBASE____________________ 107.9 in.
OVERALL LENGTH_______________ 187.8 in.
CURB WEIGHT__________________ 4,343 lbs.
FUEL CAPACITY________________ 19.2 gal.
EPA MILEAGE RATING___________ 18 mpg city, 24 mpg highway
Copyright, Motor Matters, 2010

RX 350 _ rear profile