Lexus RX 350 Elegantly Leads Segment It Launched

September 03, 2008

The Lexus RX 350 remains the most popular vehicle in the car-based luxury utility vehicle segment that it established over a decade ago. The RX 350 received styling enhancements for 2008 and for 2009 changes about half of its elegant color palette.

The RX 350's 3.5-liter V6 engine produces 270 horsepower and 251 lb.-ft. of torque. Featuring all-aluminum construction, the V6 harnesses the benefits of advanced technologies and low weight to improve performance and fuel efficiency as well as to reduce emissions. Dual Variable Valve Timing with Intelligence (VVT-i) also helps reduce emissions and improve fuel economy and optimizes torque for quick and powerful response at all engine speeds.

The Electronic Throttle Control with intelligence (ETC-i) helps to manage idle speed, cruise control, Traction Control (TRAC), and Vehicle Stability Control (VSC). The FWD RX 350 can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in just 7.3 seconds; the AWD model in 7.4 seconds. The RX 350 achieves Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicle II (ULEV II) certification.

The RX 350 delivers all-weather performance in both front- and all-wheel-drive models. The all-wheel drive RX 350 uses a viscous limited-slip center differential to enhance drivability in all types of driving conditions. The full-time AWD system distributes power to both axles with a 50:50 front-to-rear power split. If slippage occurs, the viscous coupling differential, also working with the traction control (TRAC), directs torque to the wheels with the most traction.

Both RX 350 models come standard-equipped with the Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) system, which helps control loss of lateral traction while cornering. VSC helps keep the vehicle going on its intended course by detecting front- and rear-wheel slide during cornering, attempting to control either condition with torque intervention and, if necessary, by applying brake pressure to individual wheels.

VSC and Brake Assist work with the standard Anti-lock Braking System (ABS). Brake Assist is designed to determine if the driver is attempting emergency braking. If the driver has not stepped firmly enough on the brake pedal to engage ABS, the system applies increased braking power until the driver releases pedal pressure.

The Lexus RX models have set a high mark for smooth, quiet ride quality. A rigid body structure, vibration-canceling engine mounts, strategically placed sound-absorption materials, an acoustic glass windshield, and refined aerodynamic details all contribute to maintaining that standing.

The high-strength platform, standard 17-inch alloy wheels and tight steering control optimize handling response in the RX 350. The standard 225/65R17 all-season tires can be replaced with optional 18-inch alloy wheels with 235/55VR18 tires. A direct-type Tire Pressure Monitor (TPM) system alerts the driver via a warning light on the instrument panel if a critical drop in tire pressure is detected in any of the tires.

An optional air-suspension system provides automatic leveling with four height settings, allowing the driver to tailor the RX 350 to specific driving conditions or needs. In "normal" mode, the system automatically lowers the RX 350 by 0.3-inch at speeds over 62 mph for enhanced ride quality. "Low" mode lowers the ride height by 0.6-inch to enhance handling response, and "high" mode raises ground clearance by 1.2 inches for driving over rough surfaces at speeds under 30 mph. "Access" mode lowers the RX 350 by 1.2 inches to provide easier entry, exit and loading. Models with the air suspension system are also equipped with a multimode sequential automatic transmission.

Safety/Security Features
A high-strength cabin and comprehensive Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) are designed to help provide a high level of crash-energy management in the RX 350. The SRS includes advanced driver- and front-passenger airbags, a driver's knee airbag, and front-seat-mounted side airbags designed to help protect the torso, abdomen, and pelvis. The front airbag technology takes into account crash severity, passenger weight, and driver-seat track position. Standard side-curtain airbags employ a roll sensor and can inflate if a predetermined threshold of vehicle-roll angle is detected.

In addition to rain-sensing windshield wipers and high-intensity discharge (HID) headlights, the RX 350 also offers the Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS) for better nighttime illumination in turns and curves. With AFS, a central controller calculates the optimum lighting direction based on input from vehicle speed and steering angle and then swivels the right and left headlights independently. An auto-dimming rearview mirror with an integrated digital compass is standard, as are auto-dimming and heated exterior mirrors. The integrated HomeLink® transmitter can control a variety of compatible home-security devices and systems.

Lexus craftsmanship and renowned attention to detail provide sumptuous comfort by design in the RX 350. Standard dual-zone automatic climate control with micro dust and pollen air filters, 10-way power front seats with available memory, adjustable light in the visor vanity mirrors, and wood interior trim set the tone for luxury. A wood- and leather-trimmed steering wheel features integrated audio system and trip computer controls. Convenience extends to the smallest details, including water-repellant front door glass and illuminated front cup holders.

The RX 350's hushed interior provides a superb listening environment for the standard premium, satellite radio-ready, eight-speaker AM/FM/CD audio player with in-dash six-disc CD changer. The system is compatible with MP3/WMA-formatted CDs and is equipped with a digital signal processor, Automatic Sound Levelizer (ASL) and the Radio Data System (RDS).

Luxury Options
RX 350 options include a power tilt and telescoping steering wheel with memory, and an illuminated entry system that lights the door handles, scuff plates, and front foot wells. Additionally, the RX 350 offers an available Dynamic Laser Cruise Control system, which measures and helps maintain a set distance from a vehicle traveling ahead. A wide-opening, multi-panel moonroof is an optional alternative to the standard moonroof. Made of three separate glass panels, it provides an open area that is 150 percent larger than a standard moonroof and an illumination area that is 250 percent larger.

An 11-speaker Mark Levinson® Premium Audio System is available. This audiophile-pleasing system features an in-dash six-disc DVD/CD changer, DVD-audio, and DVD-video playback as well as remarkable sound clarity at any listening volume, with 210 watts at 0.1% THD, 20-20,000 Hz.

The optional Lexus Navigation System integrates Bluetooth® wireless technology. When combined with a compatible phone, Bluetooth allows the driver to make hands-free phone calls through its touch-screen control panel and to transfer personal phone books to the navigation unit.

The driver can enter a destination by voice command. A central VGA screen features a high-resolution 800x480 pixel display in 32,000 colors. On-screen details are crisp and clean, and maps and roads are highlighted by 3D shadow effects. Text-display choices include English, Spanish and French, and the user can select the language preference at system start-up. System functions include multiple route calculation, route preview, simplified highway-junction graphics and a dual-map screen mode.

The DVD map database contains more than five million points of interest. The database for Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York includes a "building footprint" display feature that can show graphic representations of buildings and structures to help the driver identify surroundings.

Exterior Design
The RX 350 set the trend for sleek crossover SUV design. Its sleek profile conveys a clean, elegant appearance with no cladding, while pronounced wheel wells lend a muscular stance. Large headlamp clusters are raked back into the hood. Details that speak to the model’s luxury position include black privacy glass, chrome door handles, LED brake lights set inside rear housings merged with back window glass.

Interior Design
The RX 350's 106.9-inch wheelbase and 186.2-inch length yield an easy-to-drive, easy-to-park vehicle that provides roomy comfort for five occupants. The rear seatbacks feature a versatile 40/20/40-split design and offer both sliding and reclining adjustments. The 38.3-cu.-ft. rear-cargo capacity expands to 84.7 cu. ft. with the rear seatbacks folded down, while an automatic retracting tonneau cover adds security and convenience. The standard power rear lift gate can be programmed for one-click opening via the keyless remote control for a hands-free cargo-area opening. A beeper sounds when the door is opening and closing and a touch sensor can detect if something is impeding the hatch and stop it from closing.

All new Lexus vehicles come with a 48-month/50,000-mile basic limited warranty with roadside assistance for 48 months/unlimited miles. Powertrain and restraint system coverage is provided for 72 months/70,000 miles. Corrosion perforation protection is covered for 72 months, regardless of mileage.


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