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Millennial Mom's Review: 2021 Lexus RX 350

Driving.ca logo Driving.ca 2021-08-01 Renita Naraine
a car parked in a parking lot © Provided by Driving.ca

When I was younger, my dream car — don’t judge me — was a Lexus RX 350. It was so simple, but it seemed just far enough out of reach. It was luxury, but not extravagant. I thought it had just the right amount of flavour to “Spice Up Your Life.” For me, back then, it was perfection.

Research

Over the years, that dream has slowly deteriorated, and I contemplated how to write this review, because it hurts me to say anything bad about my once-upon-a-time dream car. It didn’t hit all the right notes, but this SUV has one extremely redeeming quality that I’ve been searching for in so many tested vehicles.

Drum roll, please—

There’s a CD player!

It may not be the car of my dreams anymore, especially not with all the F Sport details, but I did get to live out a few dreams in it, even if none of them included this car’s bucket seats or oddly coloured interior.

Instead, I got to pop in a CD — Spice Girls, because I don’t actually own new CDs — and drive with the windows down. Well, for a few seconds, until a car pulled up beside me at a “Stop” light and I was horribly embarrassed at my choice of music. However, I am not embarrassed by my choice of how I listen to said embarrassing music. Mark me down as one of those Millennials refusing to use iTunes or Apple CarPlay or whatever.

First things first, because first impressions matter, and the tested RX 350 AWD – equipped with the $8,850 Black Line Edition package that includes F Sport detailing on the exterior, as well as interior – was giving off all the wrong ones. I really “Wannabe” impressed, but it’s just “Too Much” and it seems like this SUV is trying way too hard. From the bright blue paint (Grecian Water) that reminded me of my kids learning primary colours; to all the sport-related aspects, such as the uncomfortable, tri-coloured bucket seats; or the fake third-pedal-looking area that’s just a left foot rest, well, I think the Spice Girls said it best: “Too much of something is bad enough.”

Likewise, “Too much of nothing is just as tough,” and unfortunately, this luxury car was missing quite a few things that many non-luxury brands have easily managed to incorporate, at fractions of the luxury price tag. The tested Lexus rings in at just under $68,000 — so where are all the charging ports? Yes, I see a few USB outlets, but I think we’re advanced enough to add a couple USB-C ports. Then again, with that CD player, maybe Lexus (and myself) are stuck in the past.  Regardless, don’t be like me and assume there’s at least one USB-C port, because there isn’t one. But, there is a CD player and that’s giving me “all that joy can bring, this I swear.”

The mouse pad control is ugly and annoying. I get that it’s supposed to make things easier and keep you (and me) less distracted, but in my humble opinion, it does anything but that. It takes longer to figure out if your finger is in the middle of the pad to click on something. I’ll give Lexus the benefit of the doubt and assume that maybe, with time, the mouse pad becomes more natural to use. If all else fails, you can always use the touch-sensitive screen or try the voice command. Or, even better, pop a CD in and then don’t touch anything. Just relax, focus on the road, and let it play.

One thing I don’t encounter often is the option of three saved seat settings, instead of two. While I don’t think any teen needs to drive a Lexus as a first car, I guess it could be nice to have a saved setting for your kid. In addition to the typical two adults in a household (mine has five), your fresh 16-year-old can have a setting, and then you wouldn’t be constantly changing settings after someone way taller leaves the driver’s seat leaning way too far back.

There are some cool things about the Lexus that I really appreciate; the little added details that feel like the car was built with real life in mind, a human touch, instead of throwing around cool technology. One of the cupholders can be pushed down making it spacious for larger cups, “thank you very much.” And the side pockets can be pulled out to accommodate larger items, such as our Costco-sized hand sanitizer bottle.

“And we know that you could go and find some other” car, but you should consider that the RX 350 drives pretty smoothly. It handles well and feels like it’s got a bit more weight than a standard SUV, but in my opinion, adds an extra sense of security. It’s got a good amount of trunk space and could easily fit a larger stroller, in addition to that Costco haul that never should have happened.

However, the second row is scary small and, “Who Do You Think You Are,” acting all posh, while gingerly trying to fit your babies into this sporty SUV? It doesn’t comfortably fit my two forward-facing car seats and a booster seat, but if you can “swing it, shake it, move it, make it,” and then “trust it, use it, prove it, groove it,” then you can make it work.

So, while the RX 350 is currently far from what I would call my dream car, and I admit, I may not need a CD player in every tested vehicle, I have high hopes for future generations of the RX 350. But let’s be real, Lexus, “don’t go wasting my precious time — get your act together, we could be just fine.”

a close up of a car

So, “I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want.” I want a little more luxury and a little less sport (but that’s a trim issue). I want some added standard features, like a wireless charging station instead of the useless mouse pad. Keep the heated and cooled seating, keep using an actual gear shifter, and continue giving me an option for a CD player. Oh, and while we’re at it, a few more millimetres in width couldn’t hurt.

Until then, if you’re anything like me and stuck in the past, then I think it’s finally safe to let go of some childhood dreams, and start dreaming bigger: “Set your spirit free, it’s the only way to be.”

Until next time, viva Lexus, viva CD players, viva Spice Girls, and “Viva Forever.”

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