Driving Impressions

The first thing that struck me about the RX 350 was how light and precise the steering is; it's easy to handle the RX in a parking garage or any tight space. That's not impressive in itself, but the fact that the RX is also not twitchy on highway drives is very impressive. Often, a car that's easy to steer in a parking lot can be too light at speed, meaning you constantly have to correct it. Not the Lexus. It didn't give any feedback through the steering wheel Ч as other cars do Ч but I guess you have to give something up sometime.

It's largely the same for the accelerator and brake pedal: light and precise. I thought the brake pedal was a bit too light Ч it was hard for me to judge my stopping distances Ч but others who drove the RX disagreed. Either way, it's something you should pay attention to if you test-drive an RX.

As far as handling, well, this car is tuned for luxury. I noticed more body roll in the RX than I did in other high-end crossovers I've driven. Its ride is good, though, and it absorbed bumps on the highway well. I prefer a firmer ride than many others do, but even taking that into consideration I wouldn't hesitate to say the RX has a good ride.

In fact, the RX excels at long highway drives; it's a car I'd consider if I had to drive from Chicago to Oklahoma. Visibility also makes it good in the city. It's easy to judge passing maneuvers or whether you have enough room to squeeze between two delivery trucks hogging the entire street.

I tested the all-wheel-drive version of the RX. It differed from most all-wheel-drive cars I've driven in that I never felt the system "dig in" to carry me around a turn. In many other cars, I feel the outside wheels turning faster than the inside wheels, giving the sensation that the car is slinging itself confidently through the turn. I never got that sensation with the RX Ч it just glides through turns. It's not a bad thing; it's just different.

All in all, the RX is an easy car to live with. While it doesn't offer the driving thrills that other SUVs do, it also doesn't feel ungainly or out of place in any driving situation I put it in.

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