Lexus RX 350 Review (or OMFG A Housewife Can Park It!)

06.20.09

For two days I’ve tooled around New York City in a Lexus RX 350 (mid size SUV). Yes, that’s right, for some ungawdly reason Lexus has trusted me with their luxury car. Add to this the fact that I have Never driven in New York City, and you get a recipe for disaster.

Lexus is one bold car company.

The car is pretty from the outside, the color was this fun coal-ish paint. Personally I always get white cars because I never wash my car, and the white shows it a little less. I know, I do NOT deserve a nice car with an attitude like that, but it’s the reality of my life. When the car was delivered to the hotel, three men commented on the deep rich color.

I digress. The car was stunning inside as well. The front seats are both heated and cooled and the seats are huge. I’m always a little conflicted about the size of car seats. I’ve noticed that with American cars the seats have widened to accomodate our widened seats, and it makes me a little sad. My husband though, is a good six inches taller than I, and he insists that the bigger seats make it easier for him to maneuver in and out of the car. The kids had a ton of space in the back seat, and frankly it’s nice to not have them all over each other.

I don’t have a lot to compare the RX 350 to engine wise. I drive a 2007 3 series BMW and my husband has a 5 series from 2008. This car has a ton more power than my 3 series, with a much faster drive off the line and the ride is infinitely smoother. I’m not certain that I’m looking for a smooth ride though, I’ve been in German cars a while so the ride was a very different experience. The Lexus RX 350 isn’t as fast off the line as the 5 series, but then again, it’s an SUV (albeit a small one) and about $15,000 less. I can’t compare it apples to apples with anything I’ve driven lately.

The reason I’d wanted to drive a Lexus is because my family is such fans of the Toyota Lexus brand. My Stepmother has a Prius that she loves, my Mother has a 2006 400h (hybrid) and just today my Stepfather picked up his 2010 RX450h. So, yeah, I’m part of a Lexus/Toyota family, but I’ve only been a passenger. There’s one reason we bought BMW’s. It’s a little shameful, but it’s true. When we bought our cars XM and Sirius hadn’t yet merged, and my husband and I both wanted to listen to Howard Stern. Sirius wasn’t factory installed last year, so we skipped the Lexus. To a true auto aficionado that may seem like a silly reason, well, to be perfectly frank it was silly, but sometimes I’m silly.

The trunk of the RX is huge. You can get a ton of backpacks, groceries and golf clubs in there with room to spare. The entertainment system is divine. I don’t know if our speakers were upgraded, but the sound was clear and the kids had headphones for the back seat in case you want to let them listen to their own music. There are also TV screens in the back seat. I try to not be too judgy, but I mostly fail at that. I’m not sure how I feel about TV’s and headphones in cars. I really like talking to my kids, I enjoy the interaction and I feel sad when we aren’t talking to each other, or listening to music together. I get that some parents really want these features, but I feel compelled to lecture y’all a little. Your kids are interesting, try talking to them.

I drove the Lexus from Midtown Manhattan to Long Island and back a few times, I took the Long Island Expressway and FDR Drive a number of times. I can tell you this, I have never driven on tinier, faster, or less even roads than those in New York City. It was a comfortable ride.

I kept waiting for the car to wiggle and sway like the SUV’s of my childhood, but the Lexus took the crummy roads like a champ. I was waiting for the kids to complain about being jostled, or to lose control and end up in another lane. Nope, nothing. Inside the cabin, it was like we were sitting in our living room (only cleaner).

I have to say, with a two day test drive I can’t gush about this car enough. I loved every part of it, except I wish it had been the hybrid. The fuel consumption was reasonable at about 20 MPG sitting in some hideous traffic and with me not ecodriving at all. I think with mindful driving I could get a few more miles a gallon, as I do daily here in Los Angeles.

In this house we purchase our cars for their safety ratings. The Lexus RX Series is a Top Safety Pick with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Everyone I love is in that car, I need it to be safe, I want it to be cozy. Safety is the trump card.

Let me tell you about the big win. I parked the Lexus in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. By. Myself. Yes, my husband was shaking and sweating and a little horrified, but with whatever sensors they’ve added to the front and rear bumpers, plus the cameras… I was able to take an SUV and park it in a teeny tiny spot within the first 50 miles of ever having driven it.

That, my friends, is a victory.

I will also give the other Mommies a tiny bit of wisdom that only another Mommy Blogger can give them. This car seats five, and five is plenty. Do not be suckered into buying a car that seats seven when you are only in posession of a family of three or four.

Why, you ask?

When the neighbor calls again just realizing that she cannot possibly get to school on time again and is wondering if just one more time you could pick up her three children, it’s really nice to be able to say.

“I would love to help you out again, but I’m at capacity.”

You can see the entire story on Whrrl if you click here.