2010 Lexus RX Review

2010 Lexus RX - All new for 2010 and still one of the best.


Vehicle Tested
2010 Lexus RX 350 AWD
Base Price: $38,650
At-Tested Price: $52,314
Built in Japan and Ontario, Canada.

Comforat Package
Rear-Seat Entertainment Package
Luxury Package
Cargo Net
Premium Floormats

Engine: 3.4-Liter V6
Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic
Drive Wheels: All-Wheel Drive

Lexus redesigns its flagship crossover for 2010. All new from the ground up, the RX sports fresh styling, additional features and more power. The new model has a familiar silhouette but is one inch longer in wheelbase and overall length and almost 400 pounds heavier than the model it replaces

The RX stays a five-passenger four-door wagon and competes with vehicles like the Acura MDX, BMW X5, Cadillac SRX, Infiniti FX, Lincoln MKX, Mercedes-Benx M-Class, and Volvo XC60. The RX is the only car in the class that offers a hybrid gas-electric version, called the RX 450h. FYI, gas-only models are again called the RX 350.

The RX 350 comes in a single trim level with either front- or all-wheel drive. It is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that makes 275 horsepower--five more than last year. Sole transmission choice is a six-speed automatic, which it up one gear on last year's automatic.

The RX 450h hybrid is also available with front- or all-wheel drive. Its gas-electric hybrid powertrain makes the equivalent of 295 horsepower, which is 27 more than last year. Like other Toyota and Lexus hybrids, the RX 450h can run on one or both of its power sources to balance acceleration and fuel economy and requires no plug-in charging.

Standard safety features include antilock four-wheel disc brakes with brake assist, stability control, front-seat active head restraints, tire-pressure monitor, and dual-front, front-side, curtain-side and front-knee airbags. Optional are park assist, rear-view camera and Lexus' Pre-Collision Safety System, which is designed to tighten the seatbelts and ready full braking power when sensors detect an imminent collision.

The RX 350 lists for $37,625 with front-wheel drive and $39,025 with all-wheel drive. It comes standard with air conditioning with dual-zone automatic climate controls, interior air filter, power tilt-telescope leather-wrapped steering wheel with radio controls, cruise control, ten-way power front seats with lumbar adjustment, center console, adjustable split-folding rear seat, wood interior trim, heated power mirrors with integrated turn signals, power windows, power door locks, keyless access and engine start, AM/FM radio with in-dash six-disc CD changer, variable-intermittent wipers, universal garage door opener, illuminated visor mirrors, cargo cover, rear defogger, intermittent rear wiper/washer, automatic headlights, floormats, theft-deterrent system, rear privacy glass, fog lights, rear spoiler, 235/60R18 tires and alloy wheels.

The front-drive version of the RX 450h lists for $42,685 and the all-wheel drive model carries a base price of $44,275. The Hybrid models add to the RX 350 the hybrid gas-electric powertrain and a continuously variable transmission.

The option list is quite lengthy. Some of the more significant available items include Mark Levinson sound system, head-up instrument display, two levels of Leather upholstery, power sunroof, iPod adapter, power liftgate, power-folding mirrors, wide-angle side view monitoring system, illuminated front door sills, steering-linked adaptive and self-dimming headlights, heated/cooled front seats, rain-sensing wipers and dual-screen rear-seat entertainment system. Also available is a navigation system that includes voice-recognition, real-time traffic information, hard drive, Bluetooth cell-phone link and rearview camera.

The RX is assembled in Japan and Ontario, Canada, and carries an $875 destination charge.

Get Up and Go  For a fairly large and heavily-equipped crossover, the RX moves out quite smartly at stoplights and has ample around-town and highway passing power. Zero to 60 mph takes about 7.5 seconds, which is quick for the class. The new automatic transmission has nicely spaced gears and shifts quite smoothly. Downshifts require a deliberate prod of the accelerator and are accompanied by a short pause from the transmission.

There's some wheel spin on front-drive models when the road is slippery, so those wanting the extra security of all-wheel drive would be wise to pony up a few extra dollars for that feature.

With EPA ratings of 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway, the AWD system doesn't seem to hurt fuel economy that much. Those numbers are on par with class competitors. Unfortunately, Lexus recommends premium-grade gasoline for the RX.

Behind the Wheel  Despite a redesign with an eye toward making the RX drive more like a sports sedan, I'm happy to report that the RX still rides with the smoothness and composure of a typical Lexus. The ride is absorbent and comfortable, with only a slight hint of harshness on models equipped with the available Sport package.

Improvements in overall composure have been made, but the RX still isn't as agile as class leaders like the BMW X5 or Cadillac SRX. The steering and brakes lack feel and transmit a sense of numbness and there's just too much body lean in quick corners to call the RX athletic.

Interior noise levels are pleasantly hushed. The 3.5-liter V6 is smooth, refined, and most importantly, nearly silent. At times there's some wind noise from the large outside mirrors, but overall, the RX is one of the quietest vehicles in the class.

Behind the Wheel  Like many luxury crossovers, the RX has a very stylized interior. Materials and fit-and-finish appear to be top notch and the overall effect is of restrained luxury.

Thankfully, the design places most of the buttons and controls close at hand. Luminescent gauges are large, well-marked and easy to read day or night. Audio and climate controls are grouped near the top of the center stack and are somewhat off putting because of their small size. Window, lock and mirror switches are easy to access.

Models with the optional navigation system get a large display that's well forward in the dashboard. This is excellent for eliminating glare but puts the screen out of easy reach. Unfortunately, it's controlled by a trackball-like joystick that's clunky and distracting. A touch screen would be a better option.

The front seats are large and quite comfortable. They offer plenty of support and enough padding to be long-haul comfortable. Head and leg room are quite good and there are enough seat and steering wheel adjustments to ensure that almost any size driver can find a comfortable position. Outward visibility is good forward, decent to the sides, but blocked to the rear by the thick pillars.

The rear seat slides fore and aft a few inches to accommodate taller adults. Sadly, head room is at a premium, so those more than six feet tall will be scrunching a bit. The seat is quite comfortable and offers an adjustable backrest angle. The floor is devoid of a driveline hump, adding to foot space.

The cargo area is class competitive, but somewhat diminished by the sloping roof line. Rear seats fold in a snap from the side or the rear, but they don't lay completely flat. There are a couple of small under floor bins for hidden storage. Interior storage is scarce with only a few small bins. There is a deep center console cubby, but it's hard to access while driving.

Bottom Line  Lexus' RX is the undisputed king of luxury crossovers. How so? In May 2010 Lexus sold more than 9000 RX 350s. The next closest competitor was the brand-new Cadillac SRX, which saw a surprising 4000 sales. Things drop quickly in Lexus' favor from there. So much so that if you throw out the Caddy numbers, the RX outsells all of the other cars in the segment combined.

Still, being the best selling doesn't necessarily mean it is the best overall. However, in this case, the RX deserves "top dog" spot. It offers a great blend of luxury, room, comfort, power, and features at a very far price. All of the crossovers in this class are also quite impressive, so make sure you drive a few before you settle on a winner.

Specifications, 2010 Lexus RX 350 AWD
4-door wagon
Wheelbase, in.
Size, liters/cu. in.
3.5 / 211
Length, in.
Horsepower @ rpm
275 @ 6200
Width, in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) @ rpm
257 @ 4700
Height, in.
6-Speed Automatic
Weight, lbs.
EPA Estimates, mpg
18 city / 24 highway
Cargo Capacity, cu. ft.

Fuel Capacity, gals.
Manufacturer's Warranty
Seating Capacity
4 years / 50,000 miles
Front Head Room, in.
6 years / 70,000 miles
Front Leg Room, in.
6 years / Unlimited miles
Second-Row Head Room, in.
37.7Free Roadside Assistance
4 years / 50,000 miles
Second-Row Leg Room, in.
Free Scheduled Maintenance
1st & 2nd scheduled service

Mark Bilek

Mark Bilek is the Senior Director of Communications and Technology for the Chicago Auto Trade Association and the General Manager for DriveChicago.com. He is also responsible for developing and maintaining the Chicago Auto Show Web site.

Mark has been reviewing vehicles for more than two decades. Previously, he was associate publisher at Consumer Guide, where he oversaw publication of Consumer Guide Car & Truck Test, Consumer Guide's Used Car Book, and ConsumerGuide.com. He was also responsible for publication of "Collectible Automobile" and various hardcover automotive titles. In 2001 and 2002 he served as president of a Midwest Automotive Media Association. Mark has appeared on NBC TV, ABC TV, Fox News, WGN and MotorTrend TV as an automotive consultant. He hosts the Drive Chicago radio show on WLS 890 AM and was a regular guest on WGN Radio's Steve & Johnnie show. Mark lives in the northwest suburbs with his wife and three sons.