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Sunday Drive: Looking for eagles with the grandkids in the new Lexus RX 350h

By Craig and Deanne Conover - | Mar 4, 2023
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Grandma Deanne with Jensen and Hayden at the Fountain Green fish hatchery where we stopped in Sanpete County to start our eagle-viewing adventure. They taught the kids and us all about eagles and gave the kids some swag.
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Getting ready to get out with the grandkids in the Lexus RX 350h. Standing is Jensen and running away is his little sister, Hayden Conover.
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Hayden after we finally wrestled her into her car seat in the back of the all-new Lexus RX 350h.
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Hayden thought it would be a good idea to see what the big melting snow bank tasted like at the Fountain Green fish hatchery.
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Inside the all-new Lexus RX 350h.
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Inside the all-new Lexus RX 350h.
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Inside the all-new Lexus RX 350h.

The Lexus brand has always proven to be one of our favorite rides. The RX 350 is frequently at the top of our list of premium luxury vehicles as it always proves to be the perfect-sized vehicle for empty nesters such as ourselves. This year, with a model completely redesigned from the ground up, it checked all our boxes in a hurry and again went right to the top of our list.

After receiving a schedule from DriveShop showing when we would be test driving the RX 350h, we immediately went to a calendar and searched for an adventure that would provide us with an adequate driving experience in this SUV. It just so happened that the Saturday of our ride was also the date for the annual Bald Eagle Viewing Day in Fountain Green.

What a great opportunity it was to get out in the first part of February during a winter that has already been very cold and snowy. We decided to add the element of a couple of grandkids to the mix in order to create the ultimate test. That way, our day would involve car seats, getting children in and out, food in the car and keeping the 8-year-old and 3-year-old entertained during an almost a 200-mile journey.

After easily installing two booster seats into the rear of the RX for Jensen, our 8-year-old grandson, and Hayden, our 3-year-old granddaughter, we were off to find as many bald eagles as we could in Sanpete County.

One of the first comments out of the 3-year-old’s mouth was how much she liked looking at the huge 14-inch infotainment screen located front and center on the dashboard. This was something we both came to enjoy as well, especially with the fact that our phones would automatically hook up using wireless Apple CarPlay.

The mid-sized SUV proved to be the perfect size for the grandkids to climb in and out on their own, and getting their seatbelts engaged was no problem. That made Grandma and Grandpa’s jobs easier — another notch in the Lexus belt for us who are no longer accustomed to having kids along.

The kids also loved the fact that we could talk to the car and it would answer us back in a way similar to using their Alexa app at home. Getting directions to the fish hatchery in Fountain Green was a snap, and they both learned quickly that the “Hey, Lexus” command could change their level of comfort in the rear of the SUV.

To keep us happy up front, the seats were leather-clad and both heated and cooled. The seats in the rear were also heated and cooled (if the kids were old enough not to require booster seats), which was a great addition for a night out on the town with friends.

The added heads-up display in the front window has been improved with this new version of the RX. As we would move our fingers close to any of the controls on the steering wheel, they would appear in the display, allowing us to use them without looking down at any time.

It also displayed speed, radio, safety and turn-by-turn navigation information on the front windshield. This was definitely a worthwhile addition in the RX.

The grandkids were in complete awe of the huge panoramic sunroof that allowed them to see into the sky and look for eagles. They also enjoyed the rear window shades as the day wore on and the sun dipped lower into the western sky.

Having a hybrid of any kind from Toyota/Lexus is always a great week for us as we experience a creation of leaders in engineering who have developed a way to squeeze every last mile out of each gallon of gas. Equipped with a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder inline engine that is coupled with an electric hybrid motor, the RX 350h has 246 total horsepower with 2,223 foot-pounds of torque. We found it more than adequate to get the RX up and going no matter what the situation was — and, more importantly, we got a very impressive 32 mpg for the week.

This new RX is also equipped with the Lexus Safety System+ 3.0. We agree that this system is one of the best on the market and love that Toyota and Lexus have chosen to add it to all their vehicles as they get upgraded.

New features are a pre-collision system that includes pedestrian detection. It will apply the brakes if a collision is imminent. Also, a new system called intersection support identifies when cars are approaching from either direction while you are stopped at an intersection. It would also warn us if we were trying to get into traffic in an unsafe situation.

The new all-speed radar cruise control would stop and start in any type of traffic and would even slow the RX if we were approaching a curve that was rated lower than our set cruising speed. Of course, it also included all the other great safety features: blind spot monitoring, parking sensors front and back, and rear cross path detection with mitigation.

Our week with the all-new RX 350h proved to us it would be a great addition to a family. It even impressed the grandkids and was somewhat kid-proof as it was quickly cleaned up after our day out with the youngsters.

The RX we drove was a preproduction vehicle.

Starting MRSP will be: $57,000

Destination charge: $1,150

Price projected as driven: $66,210


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