Lexus RX350 SUV : High glam factor and safety all in one
by Kathy Chin Leong

Aug2015-product-1.jpgGood news! We moved my college son back home, having carefully loaded his worldly belongings into the back seat and trunk of the new Lexus 2016 crossover vehicle, and everything fit. An extra thumbs up and a hip, hip hooray for the back rear view camera.  What a relief!

Seriously folks, this is a sturdy enough vehicle that will bear up under several guitars, computer monitors, game systems, a wealth of textbooks, and miscellaneous mounds of clean (I hope) clothing and soccer shoes.  You know, average college man stuff. 

When you are driving long distances for several hours, you want a vehicle that is not only dependable, but delivers the comfort you deserve. The newest 5-door Lexus SUV starting at $42,000 does this and more.  

For starters, it has the features which make safety count: side mirror alerts that softly beep and light up when the BSM or Blind Spot monitor button is activated. A projection feature shines your actual driving speed on the windshield in front of you so your eyes do not have to dart up  and down from the dashboard. The ten airbags give you so much cushion upon impact that you could practically turn the thing into an inflatable boat, but don't try it, my friends. On top of that, the LED fog lamps and bright Xenon HID headlamps adds more to the safety lineup-something that is becoming standard on luxury vehicles. 

We drove with pride knowing that we had uptick features like the back seat DVD player built behind the driver and front passenger headrests.  In the front seat, the car offers dual bun warmers , a sweet 15-speaker Mark Levinson Premium surround sound system and satellite radio. The driver seat features ten-way adjustment so your upper and lower back is cradled just so. One of my favorite all-time goodies is the automatic rear door lift that rises with the touch of a car button or the remote control. What a relief to have this when you are carrying multiple bags of groceries.  

Aug2015-product-2.jpgTech wise, the car has a bevy of inserts and plugs to support your electronics so you can juice them up on the road.  The dashboard visual display controls radio music, GPS, climate, phone, and personal media devices. Using the voice recognition feature, you can tell the system to play music, dial numbers, inquire about the weather, and direct the GPS. The windshield wipers have an automatic rain sensing feature that turn on when droplets begin to fall.  The automatic car parking assist will give you up to the nano-second directions on how to park your car flawlessly.  

Let me share with you some nitty gritty data points. It's got a 3.5 liter V6 engine with variable valve timing. The 6-speed automatic transmission and full-time active torque control all-wheel drive, plus all-season tires gives you the confidence to drive through snow and sleet or whatever the winds may bring.

And when appearance is very important to you, this car has the options that many will drool over. The automatic moon roof opens completely or tilts. The sleek dashboard with brushed chrome edging and wood and leather trimmed steering wheel and shift knob pretty much lets you know that financially you've done well in this stage of life if you haven't had to take a mortgage out on your house and borrow from your brother-in-law.  

Requiring standard unleaded gas, the car gets 18 mpg in the city and 24 on the highway, so you can expect to spend about $2,600 in fuel costs over the course of a year.  Not the best in fuel efficiency, but that's not why you would buy this car, right? 
The handling such as acceleration and turning and braking are all perfect to the touch. Acceleration is comfortable and braking is not too sensitive.  All have been exquisitely crafted so your expectations are met when you consider how this car should behave on the road.  
The ride is as comfortable and smooth as glass. Further, the SmartAccess system lets you open the door while you are close to the door handle, and your keyless remote can be in your pocket.  The FOB key will not let you lock yourself out, for the car will not lock if you don't have your key with you.

The car is nicely designed as a high-end vehicle and the height from the ground is perfect so you don't feel like you have to leap out of the car. It is only about ten inches off the ground.

The dual climate controls are excellent and work well.  I am impressed that during these hot summer days, it took just a few seconds to get the car's air conditioning to the temperature I desired. 

Steering wheel controls allow you to control the channels and volume of the audio system and also your Bluetooth phone connection. 
What is missing is a front space under the dashboard arms length from the driver. I would have liked a small platform to situate my iPhone or smart phone nearby. However, ports inside a central console let you stash your expensive doodads there.  Another feature that is not a super bonus for me: the on-board GPS and entertainment screen is controlled by a toggle near the gear shift so you do not touch the screen at all.  Not a fan, really. It seems to be faster when you can finger-control the screen directly. However, it does keep your screen clear of fingerprints. 

Bottom Line
Overall, a solid performer, and I know many will love it.  The miracle of technology delivers comfort and safety features. The front dashboard's bells and whistles and 10-way adjustable seats make this one a keeper and a solid long-distance winner.

Lexus RX 350 SUV
Cost: $42,195

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