As its best-selling car, and top selling luxury SUV over the past decade, the 2023 Lexus AWD RX 350 F Sport SUV is a blend of performance, class, quality build and the latest in technological advancements.
I must preface this review by admitting my wife owns a 2008 RX 350 and loves it. And with over 60,000 miles on it, she has never had a mechanical problem other than it needed new tires.
The RX is offered in FWD and AWD and in six grades of Standard, Premium, first-Premium, Luxury, F Sport Handling and F Sport Performance, the latter of which can be had with rear wheel steering. In addition, there’s the RX 350h (hybrid) and RX 500h models.
We were privileged to test the F Sport AWD Handling that was completely redesigned for 2023. Among all its advanced enhancements, there is one that is a bit annoying, but are intended for safer driving that we’ll address later.
RX 350 has a bold and sculpted front that has a distinctive look all its own. There’s none like it on the roads. Its back end has chiseled lines that make it look like it’s moving 55 mph standing still.
This sporty theme follows through to the interior, especially the cockpit with sporty, brushed-aluminum pedals and ultra-supportive (Recaro-like) leather heated/cooled leather seats. These are complimented by a huge 14-inch infotainment display that requires some time spent with the owner’s manual.
The heavily bolstered front seats power back when shutting off the engine and retract upon starting it to make ingress/egress extra easier. The rear seats are nicely padded with good leg and ample head room. The rear of the console offers separate HVAC controls for back seat comfort.
All pillars and ceiling are covered with a sueded material and the dash is padded as are the sides of the console, which is especially nice for those of us who lean our knee against it while driving. And these features are not often found on similarly-priced SUVs.
The rearview camera system includes front and revolving around the vehicle camera views. HVAC controls are easy to use with selections displayed on the touchscreen.
Aside from a wireless phone charger on the shared console, a stubby gear selector controls the 8-speed automatic transmission that has a “P” button for park gear.
A single digital gauge combines the speedometer with tachometer that does triple duty as it serves a multitude of functions, features, drive modes and alerts, to name a few. And all the doors unlock automatically when approaching the vehicle with the keyfob in your pocket or purse.
The major annoyance is the sensor atop the heated steering wheel that can sense when your head is not positioned straight ahead. If your head is turned slightly left or right to observe a subject, object or another vehicle, a visual and tone warning comes on. This is an added and true safety feature in addition to the lane centering system that keeps the RX between the yellow and white roadway lines. But if the sensor is really annoying, a piece of black electrical tape across the sensor would cancel the system.
With the rear seats upright, RX’s cargo area is rated at 29.59 cubic feet that measures 41 inches deep, 44 wide and 29 high. A low lift-over of 31 inches makes eases loading heavy packages. Flip the rear seatbacks and capacity expands to 46.19 cubic feet for 72 inches of loading depth. Beneath the cargo floor is a space saver tire and a small bin to stow some small items.
Here’s is where my wife’s’ car is better in that her RX has two enclosed full-width bins to stow grocery bags and other items that you don’t want to spill. And beneath that is a full-size spare. Oh yes. And her RX has an AWD Lock switch if getting stuck in deep snow.
The RX came with a host of the latest features such as Parking Assist (RX can park itself) and Traffic Jam Assist, the latter of which can accelerate, brake and steer itself through stop-go traffic. While it’s nice, it’s still safer to keep a light touch on the steering wheel.
Using your smartphone, you can lock, unlock and start the RX. You can even send a code to a family member so they can access and drive the SUV.
In addition, the RX test car came with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Wi-Fi connectivity plus a 21-speaker premium Mark Levinson audio system.
RX is offered with three engine choices. Our F Sport was powered by a 2.4-liter, turbocharged 4-cylinder that generates 275-hp and a potent 317 lb/ft of torque for EPA mileage estimates of 21 city, 28-highway mpg with auto engine start/stop technology. Coupled to the 8-speed auto transmission, the combination provided exhilarating acceleration, especially when the turbo spools a up. And it did so from low speed to highway passing situations.
Shod with 20-inch Goodyear tires, and despite a sport-tuned suspension, the RX Sport rode smoothly and quietly and it took sharp turns with precisions. Virtually no noticeable body lean as the RX tracked true and secure.
Aside from the aforementioned features, the included systems include Lexus Safety System 3.0 with road sign assist, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, radar cruise control w/curve speed management, rear cross traffic alert, safe exit assist (a warning when opening a door with oncoming traffic), cloud navigation and many more.
On the extra cost options list were a cold area package ($100); digital rearview mirror ($200); premium LED headlights ($1,565); panoramic moonroof ($500); Mark Levinson audio ($2,265); power rear door w/kick sensor (hands free cargo door opener ($150); Advanced Park ($250); panoramic view monitor ($800); traffic jam assist system ($620) and 4G network and lots more.
For all this, the base price of $56,600 escalated to $64,200 with delivery. It’s a premium but competitive price for an exceptionally equipped luxury AWD SUV. It will certainly continue to be a top seller for Lexus.
The RX 350 comes with a 4 year/50K mile limited warranty, plus 6/70K mile powertrain coverage.