recently drove both the Lexus RX350 and the Lexus RX400h. Our editor and our West Coast contributor
Scott Corlett discuss:
Have coffee, let’s tawk. Today’s
topic, the Lexus RX350 and RX400h. What are these, SUVs? Crossovers? Or simply luxury wagons with a more acceptable
The Lexus RX was one of the early entrants in the midsize SUV segment and one
of the first to be based on a car platform.
The term Crossover wasn’t used then but the RX is one of the vehicles
that started it all. For the sake of
this discussion, let’s coin a new term "Luxover"
or Luxury Crossover.
Luxover it is!
So who did Lexus have in mind when they designed their Luxover?
Scott Corlett: Initially,
during the pre-9/11, go-go days of cheap oil the RX’s
appeal was limited to soccer moms who craved the quiet elegance and reliability
of a Lexus to transport their broods—without the hassle of having to park a
Exactly. But now, with the price of a gallon of gasoline regularly pushing
north of three bucks, the story is different. Dealers’ lots are clogged with giganto SUVs, while crossovers and sedans are gaining in
Scott Corlett: Which brings us back to the
Lexus RX. The RX, on its car-based platform, handles, well, like a car,
not a truck. With the RX, you get the handling of a car coupled with the
command-position seating of an SUV—not to mention the room for hauling kiddies,
doggies and goodies.
Add to that all the luxury goodies you’d expect in a Lexus and you have a …Luxover! Do you
think if I say it enough, it’ll stick?
Scott Corlett: You’re the boss. A bit crazy, but you are in charge.
So, you think the Lexus RX has broadened its appeal? The new design is still,
well not exactly butch.
Scott Corlett: I think the RX still skews more feminine; but, in the right color, it can have a masculine edge. The car-like driving dynamics, better mileage and hybrid option certainly make the RX more attractive to people who previously may have considered a larger SUV.
Ok, we’ve established that the Lexus RX is not too big, not too small, but just
the right size. The question is—and I think I already know the answer—how does
the RX stack up against the competition?
Uh, hello, it’s a LEXUS. As with every other Lexus model, the primary mandate of the RX is
to shelter its occupants from intrusions from the outside world—whether from
noise, untoward road conditions, stress, or whatever. The cabin of the
RX is a snug cocoon of leather and wood and high-tech finishes.
those ten-way seats are great aren’t they?
Firm, well-bolstered, heat up quickly … if only I could find a date like that!
Right? I can see the online profile now, ISO leather-clad—
Ahem, my grandmother will be reading this.
OK, back to the RX. The interior is great. All the controls were well placed
and easy to operate. Simple. None of the overwrought, über-complex interfaces of vehicles from … well, let’s just
say über is the right word.
Too true. Another great thing about the RX is the versatile cargo space. Fold
the rear seats down and you have plenty of room for a couple of bikes or a
stack of IKEA cartoons. Seats up and you have space for four six-footers and
one little hottie – a.k.a. "A Pocket Gay".
she’s a good-size hauler, but not a monster; if you need room for seven, you’ll
have to look to Lexus’s GX or LX models. So, what did you think about the RX’s driving dynamics?
Lexus cool and crisp. Totally car-like. The steering
was relatively tight. Cornering and straight-line handling were good. Stopping
power was excellent. Of course, there were plenty of electronic gadgets to keep
you on the road. On the RX, as is the case on almost all Japanese models, the
electronic stability control program kicks in a little early for our
but then again, the RX is geared towards the better-safe-than-sorry crowd. It’s
not exactly tuned for hard driving.
True. I wonder how many RX drivers ever plumb the depths of the RX’s power. In the RX350, which is powered by a 3.5-liter,
270-hp six-cylinder engine mated to a five-speed automatic transmission, I
zipped from San Francisco out to Lake Tahoe in record time. Even driving up the
steep inclines of the Sierras, the 3.5-liter provided plenty of oomph to jag
around lumbering semis. And, thanks to Lexus’s AWD and Traction Control system,
the RX also had the sure-footedness for these dicey maneuvers. During my
mid-September drive, it was snowing—and sticking! So much for
global warming. Speaking of which, you drove the hybrid.
I spent time with the RX400h. While anyone who knows me is aware of my dislike of
hybrids, the RX400h did its job seamlessly, as a Lexus should.
Hold on, did you just say something positive about a hybrid? Are you feeling OK?
get too excited sunshine. I wouldn’t go
out and buy one but I can see that there may be a market for the Luxury SUV
owner who wants extra power without the MPG deficit. The Lexus RX400h isn’t about fuel
efficiency. As with other Lexus hybrids,
it is designed to deliver the power of a V8 with better MPG. Just don’t expect to recoup the price
differential in gas savings. That little
"h" may turn into a subtle badge for "high-income".
Inexpensive it isn’t.
So, safe to say, we’re both in agreement that the RX is a great hauler—whether
for the supple ride, lux interior, ample power, or
But you still have not said how you think the RX stands up to its competitors.
Well, I’d say if you are in the market for a "Luxover",
the RX350 and RX400h should definitely be on your list. They are gay-friendly alternatives to the
offerings from Acura. I am not sure I’d
recommend it if sporty driving dynamics is on your list.
Gaywheels.com: Agreed. I say Lexus does their version of luxury
incredibly well. But if your definition of luxury includes "fun to
drive", I’d say there may be other vehicles out there for you. For example, the Infiniti
FX35 and FX45.
3.5-liter, 270-hp six-cylinder
engine / EPA rated 20/25 (FWD) 19/24 (AWD) / Five-speed automatic transmission
/ Base price $37,400 (FWD) $38,800 (AWD)
3.3-liter, 208-hp six-cylinder
engine plus three electric motors making 167 hp, 68 hp, and 0 hp (adjunct for
electrical systems), respectively / EPA rated 32/27 (FWD) 31/27 (AWD) /
Continuously variable automatic transmission / Base price $41,180 (FWD) $42,580
Lexus is a gay-friendly company.
Read other Lexus reviews by GayWheels.com’s writers