EXTERIOR

The 2011 RX 350 says luxury without being ostentatious and offers soft lines and curves that create a perfectly well-rounded facade. From the outside, it's easy to see why so many people drive this five-passenger crossover.

My test car had the optional 19-inch alloy wheels, folding heated side mirrors and headlamp cleaners. The retractable mirrors came in handy when I parked the RX in a crowded city lot on a busy Friday night. The parking spaces were tight, yet we had no problem getting in and out of it and no fear that anyone would skim the mirrors when walking by or pulling in next to us.

The featherweight doors and liftgate are great. They're not flimsy; they're lightweight and easy for me and my children to maneuver. With a car this easy to get in and out of with the kids, I might someday experience a life without neck and shoulder pain since the usual lifting of kids was kept to a minimum.

The power liftgate also made life easier. The rear cargo space was large enough and offered a cargo cover, net and under-floor compartment. There really was a place for everything.

Given my depiction of the Lexus as the blue blood of luxury cars, it was befitting that my test car came in a color called Satin Cashmere Metallic. Nothing says luxury like cashmere, and my test car's color spiced things up a bit.

The 2011 RX 350's 3.5-liter V-6 engine delivers 275 horsepower and uses premium fuel. The front-wheel-drive RX gets an EPA-estimated 18/25 mpg city/highway, and my all-wheel-drive test car gets 18/24 mpg. I split my time with the RX almost evenly between the city streets and the highway and ended up averaging upward of 22 mpg.

SENSE AND STYLE

Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Great Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Some

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