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2009 Lexus RX 350 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2009 Lexus RX 350 was new.


Performance: 8.5

The 2009 Lexus RX 350 stands out for its smooth performance and especially good fuel economy. In fact, many test drivers said driving feel is on par with a sedan.

  • "We've plunged it into deep mud, but we don't recommend it. The RX is meant for on-road adventures and handles rush hour with light, lively controls and nimble feel." -- Car and Driver
  • "As I mentioned, the RX drove like a dream. Whatever surfaces I traveled upon, whether paved, gravel, or just plain bumpy, it was deliciously smooth. Its smoothness can be attributed to its fully independent suspension, helped along thanks to a few tricks by Lexus' skilled engineers." -- Automobile.com
  • "Because it's based on a car platform, rather than a truck chassis, it offers a smoother ride and crisper handling than truck-based SUVs." -- Forbes
  • "The RX 350 is remarkably economical for a V-6 SUV." -- CNET

Acceleration and Power

The 2009 RX 350 comes with a 3.5-liter V6 engine mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. According to the EPA, the two-wheel drive model nets 18/23 mpg city/highway, while the all-wheel drive model nets 17/22.

  • "RX 350 is strong at any speed. The automatic transmission is always smooth, but downshifts for highway passing can be sluggish." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The standard 270-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 provides strong acceleration that's accompanied by a muted growl, and the five-speed automatic transmission makes quick kickdowns when called upon." -- Cars.com
  • "Mated to a five-speed, super electronically controlled automatic transmission with overdrive and a lock-up torque converter, expect nothing but the best out of this engine. Its 270 horses are ready to gallop with the push of a pedal but aren't going to break the reins doing it." -- Automobile.com
  • "With power at 270 horsepower and 251 lb-ft of torque, it isn't a lightweight, but at 3870 pounds of curb weight (4090 pounds with AWD), it is sufficient for the V6 to turn a 0-60 mph time of 7.3 seconds with the FWD configuration, and 7.4 seconds in AWD mode." -- Left Lane News

Handling and Braking

The 2009 Lexus RX 350's smooth ride comes from its independent MacPherson strut suspension and engine-speed-sensing, progressive power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering. All-wheel drive is optional.

  • "The RX 350 is fitted with disc brakes at all four corners, and they do a good job. This sure-footed stopping power is accompanied by a progressive brake pedal that offers good brake feel, which aids driver confidence." -- Cars.com
  • "First, all RX's can be had with a full-time, 4WD configuration, replacing the standard front-wheel drive setup, while Traction Control (TRAC) and Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) are standard, giving it the ability to travel effectively on 'just plain bumpy' or gravel roads. It's also great for getting into those harder to reach spots, critical for weekend camping trips and hikes." -- Automobile.com
  • "The ride is firm but absorbent and controlled -- nearly on par with a premium sedan -- though the RX 400h is a bit harsher over sharp bumps than other RXs we've tested." -- Consumer Guide
  • "In keeping with its driving-to-the-country-club, luxury-SUV persona, the standard MacPherson strut suspension is supple with excellent damping." -- CNET

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