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Avg. Price Paid:$16,130 - $17,964
Original MSRP: $37,400 - $38,800
MPG: 18 City / 23 Hwy
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2008 Lexus RX 350 Performance

This performance review was written when the 2008 Lexus RX 350 was new.

The RX 350 has ample passing power, comfortable handling and secure brakes. "Lexus manners are impeccable," concludes Car and Driver. CNET calls the RX a "luxury SUV that deliver a stylish, sporty ride." However, it isn't designed as an off-road SUV.

Acceleration and Power

The 2008 Lexus RX 350 comes with a 3.5-liter V6 engine, standard for both trim levels. The engine is mated to a five-speed automatic with Electronically Controlled Transmission. Car and Driver calls the engine "silent and soothing" with "energetic" acceleration, and the "go pedal is calibrated just right, requiring only a small motion of your foot to bring on the rush, yet there's no overly eager jumpiness when you're squeezing into tight parking confines." Most test drivers are impressed with the new 3.5-liter V6. Kelley Blue Book calls it "both unobtrusively smooth and capably powerful" and Consumer Guide finds the RX " strong at any speed."

The five-speed automatic transmission featured standard on the 2008 Lexus RX 350 is generally well-liked by auto reviewers. Forbes calls it a "slick-shifting five-speed automatic transmission." Some test drivers report, however, that downshifting was slower they expected. Consumer Guide says that the automatic transmission is "always smooth," but says downshifts for highway passing can be "sluggish." Kelley Blue Book adds that "it does pause longer before completing a downshift than we might sometimes prefer, as when wishing to pass slower traffic in a hurry. This was not something that happened often, however, and overall the transmission's operation was as effortless as you might expect of a Lexus."

The 2008 Lexus RX 350 has an estimated fuel economy of 17 miles per gallon in the city and 22 miles per gallon on the highway. CNET cites this as "remarkably economical for a V-6 SUV" and is "extremely respectable for a car of this power and weight."

Handling and Braking

The 2008 Lexus RX 350 comes with independent MacPherson strut suspension and engine-speed-sensing, progressive power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering. Forbes calls the 2008 Lexus RX a "taut but compliant car-like ride," yet "not intended for serious off-road use or work duties but is a practical and comfortable city runner and long-distance cruiser." For most city and highway driving, Car and Driver calls the ride "supple and silky." Driving the back roads, Consumer Guide reports that the 2008 Lexus RX is "not happy hustling twisty roads," but reports a "secure grip" and only "modest" cornering lean.

The 2008 Lexus RX 350 also comes with four-wheel, ventilated, power-assisted disc brakes. For a 4,000 pound vehicle barreling down the road, the RX stopped quickly for most test drivers. Consumer Guide calls the brakes on the 2008 Lexus RX "strong, but pedal feels slightly mushy."

All-Wheel Drive

The 2008 Lexus RX 350 comes in two trim levels offering rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Consumer Guide calls the all-wheel drive system "firm but absorbent and controlled," and "nearly on par with a premium sedan." Car and Driver reports that the "all-wheel-drive versions get a viscous limited slip in the center differential instead of the old open diff." The 2008 Lexus RX 350, according to Forbes reviews, "isn't capable of tackling rough terrain," but "when equipped with optional all-wheel drive it can traverse moderate trails and handle slippery roads in stride."

Review Last Updated: 2/17/09

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