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Luxury Defined – Infiniti QX50/Lexus IS 350

An SUV and sedan prove that luxury comes in all shapes and sizes.

The revamped QX50 is luxurious and quiet. (Photo: Infiniti North America, Inc.)

While previous model year Infiniti SUVs were criticized for a lack of luxury, that certainly isn’t the case with the completely updated Infiniti QX50.

The turbocharged, 268-horsepower engine isn’t as powerful as some of the competitors, and sounds coarse when pushed hard, but it’s more than adequate. The trade-off in good fuel economy, however, is tempered by the need to use 91 octane premium gas.

The ride is controlled and does a nice job of soaking up the bumps and potholes. Steering is smooth, and the overall handling is good with a minimal amount of body roll. The interior features soft-touch materials throughout and comfortable front seats. The rear seats are comfortable, although taller passengers will be looking for a bit more headroom.

Safety is addressed with a combination of advanced driver-assistance systems. With double screens, the infotainment system can be somewhat distracting and asks for too much of the driver’s attention.

The redesigned Infiniti QX50 is much better than its predecessors but may not be good enough. This latest model is quiet and stylish, but other models in this segment handle better, have more power and get better fuel economy.

Base Price: $36,550

MPG: 24 city, 31 highway

Crash Test: 5 stars

The IS 350 is dependable and fun to drive. (Photo: © Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.)

The new Lexus IS 350 compact sports sedan rivals the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4. Driving it is a pleasant experience, with the engine providing plenty of power. From a standing start the IS 350 feels quite fast, but midrange acceleration doesn’t have the same quick feel. My fuel economy averaged about 25 mpg.

Lexus does well combining sporty handling with a comfortable ride. The cabin is nicely isolated, quieting most outside noise. The instrument panel seems a little busy. A mouse-style controller navigates the infotainment system. The front seats are supportive and comfortable.

Rear seating is tight when the front seats are pushed all the way back. Entry and exit are a bit awkward, even with the steering column in its highest position. The trunk is a small compared to the competition, but the rear seats fold to accommodate longer items. The overall fit and finish is superb, with a good mix of luxury materials used throughout.

While not the best in its class, the Lexus IS 350 has improved. If you’re looking for a quiet, dependable car that’s fun to drive, take a look at the IS 350.

Base Price: $42,030

MPG: 19 city, 26 highway

Crash Test: 5 stars

Looking for a new car ride? Find more car reviews online. AAA.com/TestDrive

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