Interior

Where the RX really shines is in the cabin. The base RX 350 has a terrifically upscale interior for $37,250. Even at the hybrid's starting price of $42,110, it seems lush and well worth the money. The leather is rich and soft Ч like a really nice couch, not a luxury car. The driver's seat is especially comfortable, with plenty of thigh support and a wide back. Some luxury cars have seats that are overly stiff, but not the RX.

From that cushy perch, your eyes glance over the dash and its scoop-like center control cluster with the shifter directly below. It's an odd place for a shifter, but I got used to it during my test. There's no escaping, however, the fact that the buttons directly above it are hard to reach. They're also quite small.

To control most of the advanced features, like navigation with voice commands (available in a $2,465 option package) you have to use a computer mouse-like controller that Lexus calls Remote Touch. It works almost exactly like a computer's mouse and is located right below the shifter. It's comfortable to put your hand around and easy to move the arrow on the center-mounted LCD screen, but most commands don't require such precise cursor placement. A simple clickwheel like you find in Mercedes and Audi cars would be preferable. Because it reminded me so much of a mouse, it also kind of reminded me of the cubicle I spend my days in ... while I was driving. That wasn't a good mindset to be in.

I didn't like the heated and cooled seat controls hidden under the sliding armrest/center console cover. If you left one on you wouldn't be able to shut it off Ч or even see what setting it was on Ч if you or a passenger slid the armrest up.

The backseat is spacious, and I easily fit both an infant and convertible child-safety seat back there using the Latch anchors. Legroom for adults is beyond plentiful, as is headroom.

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