By KBB.com Editors
One of the most successful crossover SUV offerings in the history of the genre, the mid-size RX series continues to attract buyers with its distinctive combination of style, luxury, comfort and safety. This line of car-based five-passenger family haulers includes both the volume-leader RX 350 and the RX 400h Hybrid (reviewed separately), and offers V6 power in both front- and all-wheel-drive configurations. Key RX 350 competitors in the prolific mid-size premium SUV/crossover segment include the Acura MDX, BMW X3 and X5, Cadillac SRX, Infiniti FX35 and FX45, Lincoln MKX and Mercedes-Benz ML350.
With its luxury-sedan sophistication, SUV versatility, first-class creature and safety features plus a premium Lexus pedigree, the RX 350 deserves serious consideration from anyone shopping for a single vehicle with a truly multifaceted personality.
The RX 350 receives only detail changes for 2008, including two new exterior colors, chrome door handles and a revised grille design. Inside, black bird's-eye maple wood trim is now available with the light grey interior and a positive shutoff switch has been added to the standard Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) system.
Driving Impressions Given its primary mission as a luxury-oriented carryall, the RX 350's cabin is well isolated from wind and road noise. With chassis tuning focused more on ride comfort than precision...handling, it's also better suited to effortless cruising than to attacking a twisty two-lane. However, a relatively compact 37.4-feet turning circle makes the RX 350 fairly easy to maneuver in tighter confines, while the available four-position air suspension can raise itself to clear obstacles, lower itself for cruising and even dip for easier entry and exit. A viscous center coupling in the optional all-wheel-drive system can transfer power fore or aft from the normal 50/50 split to instantly compensate for changing traction conditions. All RX 350s come with an effective Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) package that gets a new positive cutoff switch to indulge more enthusiastic drivers and the anti-lock disc brakes excel in short, drama-free stops.
Power Rear Liftgate
This thoughtful standard opens and closes the RX 350's large one-piece liftgate at the touch of a button on the key fob or the dash, making it quicker and easier to load and unload the cargo bay.
Optional Multi-Panel Moonroof
Available in place of the conventional power moonroof, this three-element alternative is 150 percent larger and lets in 250 percent more outside light but creates no additional wind noise. It comes in a package that also includes leather upholstery, corner-following bi-xenon Adaptive Headlamps and a power tilt and telescoping steering column.
Living up to its Lexus heritage, the RX 350's space-efficient cabin has a quality appearance with an impressive level of fit and finish. Standard cloth upholstery, signature Optitron electroluminescent gauges and real wood trim are complemented by a major assortment of comfort and convenience touches. This sophisticated five-passenger transporter pairs supportive 10-way power seats with a 40/20/40 rear bench that splits, folds, slides, reclines, and will comfortably handle two full-size adults or a trio of kids. Accessed by a power liftgate, the RX 350's cargo bay can hold 38.3 cubic feet of your carry-on items with the rear seat up and 84.7 cubic feet with the seatbacks flipped forward and down.Exterior
Consciously avoiding the harder angles and squared-off edges favored by traditional SUVs, the RX 350 celebrates its crossover character by matching rounded body contours with well-defined accent lines and passenger-friendly proportions. Its smartly raked windshield and large glass area help improve driver sightlines while both front and rear doors are large enough to ensure easy access to all seats. Crystalline head- and tail-lamp covers, subtle chrome highlights on the grille and door handles and S-rated 225/65 all-season tires on handsome 17-inch alloy wheels emphasize its upscale personality.
Passenger-pleasing appointments abound in the RX 350, starting with ivory-colored cloth upholstery, walnut or bird's-eye maple wood accents, a mega-roster of power assists headed by 10-way power seats and a power liftgate, dual-zone automatic climate control and an eight-speaker AM/FM/CD unit with six-disc changer. Other highlights include a driver information system, cruise control, numerous modest storage cubbies plus a large locking glovebox, dual 12-volt powerpoints and an anti-theft system. Leading the list of safety features are Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) with Traction Control (TRAC), antilock disc brakes with Brake Assist (BA) circuitry and front, front-side and side-curtain airbags plus a driver's-side knee airbag.
The RX 350 offers several grouped upgrades, beginning with a Premium Package that includes leather upholstery, a power moonroof, power tilt and telescoping steering column and memory for the driver's seat, mirrors and steering wheel. The Premium Plus Package adds bi-xenon Adaptive Front Lighting (AFS) to that mix while the Performance Package brings special 18-inch wheels with V-rated 235/55 tires, four-mode air suspension and a five-speed sequential automatic transmission. Other extras include an oversize multi-panel moonroof, 11-speaker/210-watt Mark Levinson premium audio system, voice-activated navigation system with rear backup camera, rear-seat DVD entertainment system, rain-sensing windshield wipers, distance-maintaining Dynamic Laser Cruise Control and a towing package.
Both front-drive and all-wheel-drive RX 350 models use an identical 3.5-liter all-aluminum V6 that features Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) to help bolster low and mid-range responsiveness. Smooth and free-revving, it makes a very enthusiastic 270 horsepower and 251 pound-feet of torque. The standard transmission is an equally efficient five-speed automatic, and included in the Performance Package is sequential shifting. That matchup allows both front and all-wheel drive RX 350s to run from zero to 60 miles per hour in less than 7.5 seconds and still earn class-competitive fuel economy numbers from the EPA. Step up to the optional towing package and the trailering capability on either RX 350 variant jumps from 2,000 to 3,500 pounds.
270 horsepower @ 6200 rpm
251 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/23(FWD), 17/22(AWD)
By LoveLexus (IN) on Wednesday, March 05, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 180,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "comfortable safe secure enjoyable"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Safe, smooth, and very comfortable. I've used this vehicle as my mobile office since 2006 and logged a lot of windshield time. I also own a new IS 250c but no matter how fun my convertible is to drive, I prefer the 2004 RX 350. It sits high enough off the road so that I can see and provides an extremely smooth ride. I especially love the driver's left side cup holder. It's one of my favorite features….. Great SUV."
By Bill (WI) on Thursday, February 06, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 64,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "Highway comfort, style, luxury interior."
Cons: "Poor cornering and off road capability."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"Excellent in many ways and great on long highway trips, comfort, convenience, features. Negative aspects(Prior SUVs were 2 Cherokees, 1 Gran Cherokee, other car is a 04 Porsche Boxter): *Sloppy on corners (am I used to the Porsche?) *Poor traction off road deep snow, wet grass, mud. *MPG - 12/16 in Winter 23/27 Summer, disappointing. *Prem ethanol free - 5 mpg better. *High tailgate makes backup camera necessary equipment."
7 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By Konrad (CA) on Thursday, January 30, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 100,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "never a mechanical problem, ultra reliable car"
Cons: "poor rear vision"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"95,000 miles, regular recommended service. All I've needed are "nothing." Not one problem with this car mechanically. Rear visibility is poor. Good driving position. Excellent car."
5 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By Mark (CA) on Friday, January 10, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 219,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "great for costco runs! great for roadtrips!"
Cons: "can't think of one"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought mine in 2007 from the dealer with 44k. I do a lot of driving for work so I spend a good part of my work day in it. Very comfortable. The driver's seat could be a little more supportive for long legged folks. Its the right size SUV for me. Not too small or too large. The V6 is very smooth and quiet. The suspension is just the right balance between firm and soft. The car has a very substantial feeling to it.It feels very safe and secure. The ride height is great, it keeps other cars from blinding you with their headlights. The windows are large which I like. Great center console. It has plenty of room for all my stuff. On long trips it can't be beat. I haven't had to make too many repairs, just routine maintenance. The front brake rotors had to be resurfaced and I replaced the driver side window controller. The check engine light is on due to the catalytic converter that needs to be replaced but it doesn't effect driveability. That's it. I get about 22 mpg mixed as long as I take it easy on the gas pedal. Lexus sent me a letter saying they will replace the headlight lenses in the future if needed for free which is good because mine got cloudy about 150k miles ago. To me its been an economy car because its lasted so long with no problems or annoyances. It should easily go another 100k miles."
13 people out of 13 found this review helpful
By louie (NJ) on Wednesday, January 08, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 70,510overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "good gas mileage, great size, comfortable"
Cons: "Service cost"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Excellent car, after owning a non hybrid 300 series. Easy to park, to drive, comfortable, sound interiors, a little noisy, but problem free. Only problem is that the Lexus service is prohibitive after the warranty is up. It means turning in a great car for a new model or paying 8-10000 per year for service."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Lex (NY) on Sunday, November 24, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 91,650overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Very good vehicle for any kind of weather"
Cons: "The steering racks all RX's seals go easy."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"I recommend this car to any one specially families up to 3 kids it is comfortable nice ride I drive it to florida, Boston , Philadelphia , New Jersey, up state New York , Atlanta etc. no problems still looks new rides like new . I have it since new so it's well kept . The only problem that upset me is that lexus knows that all this steering racks are poor in quality and they haven't done anything about this we the owners have to suffer with this $1400.00 expense. Other than that great cars."
9 people out of 9 found this review helpful