$16,877 - $18,059

2012 Lexus RX 350 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Lexus RX 350 was new.


Performance: 8.3

The 2012 Lexus RX 350 stands out for its smooth performance and especially good fuel economy. Though it has plenty of power for most drivers, reviewers say that it’s by no means fun to drive.

  • "No one's accusing the 2012 RX of being a sports machine. The vehicle prizes occupant comfort over outright performance in any category. This is a soft-roader through and through, so buyers hunting a sharper driving experience may be more rewarded with a BMW X3 or an Audi Q5.” -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The ride is absorbent yet composed and controlled - nearly on par with a premium sedan.” -- Consumer Guide
  • “Quiet in its operation, the RX’s handling reminds more of a minivan than a car.” -- Car and Driver

Acceleration and Power

The 2012 RX 350 comes with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that makes 270 horsepower. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard. Most reviewers find the powertrain is superbly refined and has plenty of muscle for most drivers. However, that still doesn’t mean it’s enjoyable. It’s just that there aren’t any glaring problems and that it doesn’t have any trouble passing or merging onto the highway.

The Lexus RX achieves excellent fuel economy ratings for its class. According to the EPA, the front-wheel drive RX 350 nets 18/25 mpg city/highway, but all-wheel drive comes with a penalty of only 1 highway mpg.

  • "The powertrain is also praise-worthy for its smooth performance and ability to furnish both brisk acceleration and respectable fuel economy.” -- Edmunds
  • “The powertrain is amazingly responsive, whisper quiet and impressively fuel frugal.” -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "RX 350 is responsive at any speed. The alert automatic transmission is quick to downshift for more power.” -- Consumer Guide

Handling and Braking

The 2012 Lexus RX 350's smooth ride receives plenty of praise. It’s no sports-car wannabe, and test drivers say it drives more like a luxury sedan. If you’re looking for a luxury SUV that coddles you over rough roads, reviewers say it’s hard to find a better choice than the RX. The RX comes standard with two-wheel drive, but opting for all-wheel drive doesn’t add quite as much to the bottom line as it does on many of its competitors. Test drivers say the RX’s brakes feel strong, but that it has more body lean than some of its sportier rivals, thanks to its softly-sprung suspension.

  • "The 2012 Lexus RX 350 may not be able to corner like a BMW X3, but it won't punish your kidneys on bumpy surfaces, either. The RX delivers a soft, quiet and comfortable ride, with just enough feedback from the electric power-steering unit to qualify as sporty (as opposed to numb, a trait we attributed to RX steering setups in the past).” -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Agile handling is not the RX's forte, but both RX 350 and 450h are competent enough on twisty roads. They exhibit moderate cornering lean but secure grip. The Sports Package provides slightly sharper moves. Brakes are strong, with a smooth, progressive pedal feel.” -- Consumer Guide

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