There's lots to like about the new 2011 Lexus RX 350, including its plush cabin, premium features, solid ride quality, robust acceleration, excellent crash test ratings and high quality materials. The fact that it lacks a third-row option or isn't as sporty a driver as some of its rivals does little to hurt its wide-ranging appeal.
After all, the 2011 RX 350 offers just what most luxury SUV buyers are looking for: roominess, confident yet comfortable road manners, a silky smooth and quiet ride, plenty of features that pamper, top-of-the-line cabin materials and outstanding fit and finish. And under the hood is a 275 horsepower V6 that delivers energetic acceleration as well as very respectable gas mileage.
Trims, Standard Features And Options:
The 2011 Lexus RX 350 is a five-passenger midsize luxury crossover SUV that's available in a single trim. Standard features on this well-equipped vehicle include full power accessories, keyless entry and ignition, 10-way power front seats, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, 18-inch alloy wheels, heated exterior mirrors, a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, automatic headlights, foglights, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, second-row sliding and reclining seats, cloth upholstery, wood interior trim and a 9-speaker audio system with a 6-disc CD changer, satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack.
Most optional features are combined into packages. The Sports package includes a sport-tuned suspension, 19-inch wheels and Lexus' Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) system, while the Premium package adds leather upholstery, driver memory functions, an iPod/USB input/interface, a sunroof, a rear seat armrest, auto-dimming exterior mirrors and a power rear liftgate.
The Comfort, Luxury and Navigation packages become available for those who opt for the Premium package. The Comfort package includes heated and ventilated front seats, an upgraded 12-speaker sound system, rain-sensing wipers and bi-xenon adaptive headlights with automatic high beams. The Luxury package adds upgraded leather upholstery, a wood and leather steering wheel, a right-hand sideview camera, 19-inch wheels, extendable front seat cushions and power-retractable outside mirrors, while the Navigation package includes a hard-drive-based navigation system with voice controls and real-time traffic, a back-up camera, Lexus' Remote Touch interface, Enform enhanced telematics and additional Bluetooth functions.
Stand-alone optional features include adaptive cruise control with a Pre-Collision System (automatically stiffens the suspension, primes the brakes and tightens the seatbelts when an imminent collision is detected), a dual-screen rear DVD entertainment system, rear parking sensors, a head-up display and a premium Mark Levinson surround-sound audio system. Some package features are also offered as stand-alone options.
Engines, Powertrain And Gas Mileage:
Powering the 2011 Lexus RX 350 is a 3.5-liter V6 that generates a healthy 275 horsepower and 257 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission and a buyer-choice of either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. In performance tests, a FWD RX 350 was timed from a standstill to 60 mph in a very respectable 7.1 seconds. And when outfitted with the optional towing package, the RX 350 has a tow capacity of 3,500 pounds.
The EPA-estimated gas mileage for a 2011 RX 350 with FWD stands at 18 mpg city and 25 mpg on the highway, a quite decent performance given the power. Gas mileage for the AWD RX 350 dips only slightly to 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway.
Standard safety features for the 2011 RX 350 include stability control, traction control, antilock disc brakes (ABS), front-seat side airbags, dual front knee bags, rear-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and Safety Connect telematics (with emergency assistance, automatic collision notification and a stolen vehicle locator). In addition, the Sports package's VDIM system adds extra traction capabilities, while adaptive cruise control with the Pre-Collision System is optional.
The Lexus RX 350 excelled across the board in government crash tests by earning the highest possible ratings of five stars in all frontal- and side-impact occupant protection categories.
The RX 350's cabin is more elegant, refined and expensive looking than one would expect from an entry-level luxury vehicle. The materials quality is exceptional, as is the workmanship. With its high-quality leather, authentic wood trim, abundance of premium appointments, high-tech features and overall design layout, the RX 350 is likely to please both drivers and passengers alike. In addition, the optional Mark Levinson audio system is simply one of the best available.
Seating is comfortable and supportive both front and rear. Rear passengers will be particularly grateful on long trips for seats that both slide and recline. Cargo space is also ample with 40 cubic feet behind the rear seats, expandable to 80 cubic feet by stowing them.
The 2011 RX 350's compliant suspension and excellent noise insulation provide a super smooth driving experience bathed in quiet luxury. The overall performance quality is confident, the steering is precise and 3.5-liter V6 is impressively quick to accelerate when needed. While not engineered for an engaging and sporty drive, most drivers will likely be pleased with its performance. Those who place a higher value on sporty handling may want to try out the firmer suspension tuning that's part of the Sport package.
How To Get The Lowest Price:
Best Negotiating Tactic: Well, there's definitely a 'best way' when it comes to new car buying. If you want to get the best bottomline, out-the-door price you need to know exactly who to talk to at the dealership, how to make the contact and how to make this person eager to quickly drop prices as low as possible to get your sale.
Those of you in the market for a used car may want to check out this article about how to buy a used car at the lowest price. It details a super effective buying method, one that often beats down prices to wholesale levels.
And somewhat related to this, here's another excellent method that identifies Price-Distressed Cars Right On Dealer Lots. These are vehicles they are so desperate to unload they would welcome your wholesale offer.
In addition, you can also try a Wholesale Auction in your own geographic area. While there can be a lot of junk vehicles at these auctions, there are often absolute gems sprinkled in as well. This article reviews what to expect at open-to-the-public car auctions and how to locate them in your own area.
Price: 2011 Lexus RX 350:
RX 350, FWD: list price: $37,975, invoice price: $34,366
RX 350, AWD: list price: $39,375, invoice price: $35,633