Although competitors offer superior driving dynamics, the 2009 Lexus RX 350 will impress anyone shopping for a luxury crossover SUV with its plush ride quality, exceptional fit and finish, and ample day-to-day utility.
By the early 1990s, Lexus had solidified its reputation as a builder of upscale luxury vehicles that appealed to those who prized a magic carpet ride over sports car handling dynamics. In keeping with that philosophy, the company rolled out the first luxury crossover SUV, the RX 300, in 1999. Meeting affluent consumers' increasing desire for sensibly sized SUVs that were easy to drive in suburbia and furnished to luxury sedan standards, the RX 300 was a home run for Lexus. Contributing to its success was its easygoing personality, upscale cabin, virtually silent powertrain and outstanding build quality.
The next-generation RX (the 330) arrived for 2004, sporting more aggressive styling and a larger (3.3-liter) V6. Three years later, a more muscular V6 filled the engine bay, and the name changed to RX 350. Now in its sixth year, the second generation of Lexus' midsize crossover is nearing the end of its life cycle, yet it remains a strong choice in its segment.
Like other luxury crossover SUVs, the 2009 Lexus RX 350 is based on a car platform, in this case the 2002-'06 Toyota Camry. As one may rightfully assume, this makes the RX 350 a serene highway cruiser, but not exactly an athlete. Still, the current RX can be a touch sporty if equipped with the available air suspension and 18-inch wheels. Acceleration, on the other hand, would make Carl Lewis grin, thanks to that potent 3.5-liter V6 transplant that Lexus performed a few years ago.