Gizmos & Amenities

Our test model came pretty nicely equipped with the stuff you'd expect in a luxury car: heated and cooled seats, navigation system, power-closing hatch, rear-seat entertainment system, and leather upholstery and trim.

Everything is well-executed, and that's the key. A lot of cars these days have leather seats, for instance, but that doesn't mean the leather is any good. It is in the Lexus. Also, the real wood trim is very tasteful. That's something I detest on most cars, but Lexus chose good wood and didn't go overboard applying it everywhere.

The navigation system/multimedia interface works well. Instead of a touch-screen or dial, the RX has a mouse-like controller. I'd read about the system and wasn't sure I'd like it, but it turned out to be easy to use. Lexus did a nice job of incorporating into the touch-screen only those functions (audio, navigation, etc.) that should logically be there. You don't have to go through the screen to change the climate-control settings. That's how it should be.

Our RX also featured two cameras to assist with parking maneuvers. One is a standard backup model; the other is mounted on the passenger-side door mirror, facing down. I found it helpful when snuggling up to curbs, but it wasn't much use at night in parking lots. Something about the glare off the pavement and paint of the parking lines made it hard for me to use. However, I preferred this system to others that offer a view on all sides of the vehicle, like Infiniti's Around View Monitor. Those systems provide too much information to be useful at a glance.

If there was one flaw that really stood out, it was the heated and cooled seat buttons. It's a roller switch, and it's too easy to switch from a heated seat to a cooled seat when you're just trying to turn it off. A minor issue, you say? Try sitting in a heated seat when it's 90 degrees out, and then we can talk. In any case, if a car model is to be the best, its manufacturer has to sweat all the details, and Lexus could've done better here.

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