We found the RX 350's ride and handling above average, but the somewhat soft suspension failed to return the same level of sharp, responsive cornering we've experienced with the href='http://www.kbb.com/bmw/x5/' alt_o_t='BMW X5'>BMW X5 or Cadillac SRX. The RX 350's five-speed automatic transmission includes a snow setting that allows starting from a dead stop in second gear, thus minimizing wheel spin. We found that the five-speed works smoothly, though it does pause longer before completing a downshift than we might sometimes prefer, as when wishing to pass slower traffic in a hurry. This was not something that happened often, however, and overall the transmission's operation was as effortless as you might expect of a Lexus. The fifth gear meant relatively low engine speeds during highway cruising, which enhances fuel economy and reduces interior noise.