2011 Lexus RX 350

After a week test-driving the 2011 Lexus RX 350, a headline in the Wall Street Journal's April 18, 2011, edition caught my eye: "Lexus Falls Behind Rivals." The timing of this article was fortuitous because I'd been grappling with the fact that I really didn't love the RX 350 during my test drive. I was eager to drive it since I've seen so many of them around town and assumed there must be something extraordinary about this car since it's such a hot commodity. As it turned out, the RX 350 is extraordinary in how ordinary it is.

The RX 350 is the blue blood of luxury crossovers; it's well-appointed but sometimes it's just too reserved to elicit any excitement and pales in comparison to some of its rivals.

Acceleration, braking and everything in between was smooth. So smooth in fact that I barely even noticed any of it. However, I'd still recommend this car; it's comfortable, user-friendly in its simplicity and roomy enough for a family of four. However, if you want a car with a third row, an exciting driving experience and lots of high-tech standard features, this isn't it. The RX 350's competition — the Acura MDX, Cadillac SRX or BMW X3 or X5 — offers plenty of those things, though. The RX 350 is a crossover your mom would adore, but your younger brother would find totally dull, so make sure you know who you're shopping for (even if it's yourself) before you buy.

Besides a few new exterior colors and a new brake override system that is now standard across the line, the RX 350 doesn't have many new features for 2011. The 2011 Lexus RX 350 with all-wheel drive that I tested had a price tag of $51,234, though the base trim's starting MSRP is $39,075.

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