2007 Lexus RX 350 Road Test

rx350_6.jpg

By K-lane -North America’s number one selling luxury SUV, the RX 330, is being reworked for 2007, and is now renamed RX 350. Compared to its previous revolutionary update, that saw its alphanumeric designation move up from RX 300 to RX 330 to coincide with a complete makeover from tires to roof rack in model year 2004, visually noticeable modifications are minor, however, the changes made under its shapely exterior panels are significant.

One of the biggest changes effects the engine. Now sitting under the hood for 2007 is a new 3.5-litre V6. The new all-aluminum engine has dual variable valve timing with intelligence (VVT-I), which allows for greater torque over a wider powerband. The RX 350 produces 270 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 251 lb-ft of torque at 4,700 rpm, up 47 horses and 13 lb-ft from the 2006 RX 330. The SUV’s ability to accelerate is a respectable as some V8s. For example, the new RX can zip from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.4 seconds. Now let us take a look a couple luxury V8s. BMW’s X5 4.4 manages the same feat in 7.2 seconds, only 0.2 seconds quicker, and Mercedes-Benz’s ML500 is even a touch slower getting from standstill to 100 km/h, needing 7.5 seconds.

The sensible person in me loves the more power, less gas philosophy. The five-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission combines for great fuel efficiency, with city driving at 12.4 L/100 km and highway at 9.0 L/100 km. And for those concerned about ozone levels, the quicker 2007 RX produces about the same amount of emissions as its predecessor, giving it Ultra Low Vehicle 2 (ULV2) status.

All-wheel drive remains standard, but changes have been made to the AWD system with the addition of an integrated transfer case and viscous coupling controlled, limited slip centre differential. What this means in English is that normally the torque would be split half and half between the front and rear axles, however, should the front or rear wheels encounter a slippery patch of road, the limited slip differential will direct the power to the axle with the most traction.

One of the first things I noticed when driving this luxury SUV is how smooth and quiet the ride is. Now don’t get me wrong, the original RX was never jarring or loud, however, the engineers at Lexus took the 2007 a few steps further up the desirability ladder. On top of such design features like a rigid body structure and vibration canceling engine mounts, they have now made it even quieter with the addition of an acoustic glass windshield and sound insulation in the floor mats, door and instrument panels. Bye-bye wind noise and droning tire sounds.

The interior has all the fancy trimmings expected; beautiful leather and wood trim with heated power front seats and two driver seat memory settings, plus a power tilt/telescopic steering wheel. A sliding centre console hid all my odds and ends cleverly. All my passengers were kept at the perfect temperature thanks to dual zone, automatic climate control with rear seat heater ducts. Other spoils included rain-sensing wipers, headlamp washers, an integrated Homelink garage door opener, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and auto-dimming and heated exterior mirrors.

The 40/20/40 split back seats fold down to provide 2,398 litres (84.7 cubic feet) of cargo area. The model I drove was equipped with the Ultra Premium Package which included upgrades like a very smart looking and convenient illuminated entry system, a wood and leather wrapped steering wheel, a wooden shift knob, a power rear liftgate, an auto leveling headlamp system and adaptive front lighting system that sheds light into the road’s twist and turns.

Nowhere better to listen to you favourite tunes than in the quiet interior. The premium satellite-ready 8-speaker AM/FM/CD audio player with an in-dash 6-CD changer comes standard. This system also includes MP3/WMA compatibility, digital signal processing and is easy to use without looking thanks to controls integrated into the steering wheel spokes. Once again the model I drove was fully loaded, and therefore came with the upgraded Mark Levinson Premium Audio 11 speaker System – awesome sound. The rear seat DVD system also received an upgrade increasing the screen from seven inches to nine and included a remote control, rear audio controls and two sets of wireless headphones. If your rear passengers do not possess the same exquisite entertainment taste as you don’t fret, the back seat passengers can listen to a different audio source than you by using their headphones.

Ultra premium models come with a spookingly accurate Lexus Navigation System. The system was very easy to use by either touching its display screen or via voice commands. The voice control component can be used in English, French or Spanish, however, it can guide you vocally in ten different languages. I put the system to the test frequently and it came through with flying colours. The navigation display screen has been improved as well with improved clarity and contrast. The system also comes with a very handy back-up camera, which appears instantly once you place the transmission in reverse. It made visibility very clear, but remember that objects viewed are closer than they appear. Also incorporated into the system is Bluetooth handsfree technology, which allows you to take or make calls via your Bluetooth equipped cellular phone by linking it to the RX’s system and then using the touch screen to place or receive calls. Even easier, you can make call with the steering wheel controls too. The system can also download and store all the contact numbers in your phone.

Standard on the RX 350 is a new tire pressure monitoring system. A sensor is placed on each wheel and warns you via a warning light when the pressure gets too low. Other safety features include various multi-stage airbags for the driver and front passenger, and roll-sensing front and rear head/side curtain airbags for all occupants.

Over all, the RX 350’s ride is smooth and cushy like a luxury

sedan, handling quite acceptable and cabin loaded with a lot of great features. What I like most about the upgraded RX is what I like about the outgoing model; it has wonderful styling. Top that up with an outstanding warranty covering the whole vehicle for 48 months or 80,000 kms, while the powertrain components are covered for 72 months or 110,000 kms, and it’s no wonder why Lexus sells so many. The competition may be heating up, but the refreshed RX 350 is up to the task of maintaining its sales leadership.

Specifications (RX 350):

  • Price Range (RX 350 MSRP): $51,550 – $64,700
  • Price as Tested (MSRP): $64,700
  • Body Type: 5-door crossover
  • Layout: front engine, AWD
  • Engine: 270-hp, 251 lb-ft of torque, 3.5L, 24-valve DOHC V6
  • Transmission: 5-spd auto w/manual mode
  • Brakes (front/rear): disc/disc, ABS, BA, EBD
  • Dimensions (L/W/H/WB): 4,729 / 1,844 / 1,735 / 2,715 mm (186.2 / 72.6 / 68.3 / 106.9 in)
  • Curb Weight: 1,855 kg (4,090 lbs)
  • Tires: 235/55R18
  • Cargo Volume (seats up/folded): 1,084 / 2398 L (38.2 / 84.5 cu-ft)
  • Fuel Economy (city/hwy): 12.4 / 9.0 L/100 km
  • Warranty (mo/km): 48/80,000 km comprehensive – 72/110,000 km powertrain
  • Competitors: Acura MDX, Audi Q7, BMW X5, Buick Rainier, Chrysler Aspen / Pacifica, Infiniti FX, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Land Rover LR3, Mercedes-Benz ML-Class, Nissan Murano, Porsche Cayenne, Saab 9-7x, Subaru B9 Tribeca, Volkswagen Touareg, Volvo XC90
  • Website: http://www.lexus.ca