SAFETY

The 2011 Lexus RX 350 received a Top Safety Pick award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It received the top score of Good in frontal-offset, side-impact, roof-strength and rear crash tests. It also has a standard electronic stability system.

The RX 350 is loaded with standard safety features such as front-wheel drive, antilock brakes with brake assist, traction control, active head restraints in the front row and nine airbags, including side curtains and side-impact airbags for both rows. Also of note is the standard mini tool kit and first-aid kit in the rear of the car. I'm a sucker for little extras like this and think of them as tantamount to the warm cookies and Champagne that you get when you fly first class. They're small things that make a big difference.

The RX's optional safety features included all-wheel drive, adaptive bi-xenon headlights, a head-up display, backup camera, front and rear parking sensors and wide-view camera.

The only safety downfall in the 2011 RX 350 came in the form of the two sets of lower Latch anchors in the outboard seats. I had to excavate them from the seats. This left me disgruntled and in need of a manicure. It's a pain to have to struggle to get your car seats installed. It should be easier, but it rarely is.

There was room enough for an infant seat, a convertible and a booster (just barely) across the second row, but since none of my children are in a booster yet, this configuration was lost on me. However, with just an infant seat and a convertible installed, or even two convertibles, the RX 350 offered plenty of legroom for the kids and the front driver and front passenger.

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