The Lexus RX 350 midsize SUV/crossover has been the company’s top seller and long running best-selling luxury vehicle in the U.S. And that’s saying something since it competes with entries from Acura, Audi, BMW, Mercedes and the latest Genesis GV80.
Lexus RX 350 AWD SUV exudes luxury, unmistakable styling with its chiseled lines and superb comfort in an all-weather vehicle. And they hold their value.
Offered in FWD, AWD, in hybrid form as an RX 450h, and a stretched RX 350L version for seven passenger seating with a third-row seat. There’s also the Black Line Edition and the tested F Sport for those who want more sportiness and performance in a luxury SUV.
The F Sport is outfitted with special 20-inch F Sport wheels, black outer mirrors, F Sport (heated) steering wheel, F Sport exterior and steering wheel badging, F Sport Meter and F Sport front and rear performance dampers. F Sport also has an adaptive variable suspension that automatically changes settings in milliseconds depending on driving and road conditions. Included too are running boards that aren’t really needed.
These combine with a 3.5-liter V6 that generates 295-hp and 267 lb/ft of torque for a 0-60 time of 7.9 seconds. Along with an 8-speed automatic transmission, EPA rates the combo at 19 city, 26-highway mpg. Acceleration is quick both from a standing stop to highway passing maneuvers. Under hard acceleration, shift points come at higher rpms. So equipped, F Sport turns an SUV into a performance SUV for those who want a spirited driving experience. The exhaust tips add to the pleasure, as they exude a sweet rumble under hard acceleration.
After a low 20-inch step-in into the cockpit, you’re treated to perforated, heated/cooled front seats that hug the torso ever so supportively. Suede covered pillars and ceiling liner add extra warmth and class to the interior while brushed aluminum pedals add a sporty touch.
Centered on the dash is a 12.3-inch infotainment display with voice control serving a high-end Mark Levinson audio, rearview cameras, climate, features and functions. The rearview camera system includes close-up, 360-degree revolving and frontal views. The latter automatically comes on as an alert when a pedestrian or object appears in front of the RX. Offered too is Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Alexa plus Wi-Fi connectivity.
HVAC controls are arranged in an array that make them easy to view and use and above them is a CD player. Remember those? Kudo’s to Lexus for including it. All climate selections are displayed on the screen.
The console houses the transmission gear shift that’s complimented with paddle shifters. Next to it is a wireless phone charger and below it a touchpad for display selections. The pad is very sensitive to the touch and does take the eyes off the road so it should only be used when the RX is stopped.
Occupying the console is a mode switch for Eco, Normal, Custom, Sport S and S-Plus modes, the latter duo increases engine rpms by 500. There’s also an AWD Lock switch that sends torque to the front and rear wheels when extra traction is needed.
Instrumentation consists of a large single digital gauge that combines a speedometer and tachometer and includes a driver information display for alerts, functions and mode selections.
The heated steering wheel has a Lane Assist switch that when activated, provides steering assist to keep the RX safely between the highway lines.
Rear seats are sofa soft and accommodating for two adults or three tweens with wide opening doors for easy ingress/egress. Leg room is adequate provided the fronts aren’t racked well rearward. Head room though is ample.
Back in the cargo area that has a 31-inch lift-over, and with the rear seatbacks upright, there’s 16 cubic feet of space that measures 38 inched deep, 45 wide and 28 high. Flip them and capacity expands to 32.6 cubic feet for 72 inches (a full six feet) of cargo loading depth. A 6-inch deep bin beneath the cargo floor allows stowing small items out of sight.
Shod with Bridgestone 20-inch tires, RX 350 rides with Lexus’ inherent quietness and smoothness. Its suspension soaks up highway tar strips and road imperfections without notice in the cabin.
Standard safety features include Lexus’ Safety System 2.0 with pre-collision, lane departure alert w/steering assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, rain sensing wipers and more.
The options list is lengthy and pricey. Starting at a base price of $52,600, extras include wireless charger ($200), cold weather package ($200), color heads-up display ($600), triple beam LED headlights/washers, auto leveling ($1,675), panoramic sunroof and roof rails ($500), Navigation package includes the Mark Levinson audio, 12.3-inch touchscreen, 4G and more ($3,365), power rear door w/kick sensor ($150), panoramic view monitor w/intuitive parking assist, rear cross traffic braking ($1,365), cargo mat ($140), cargo net ($75), running boards ($650), all-weather floor mats, cargo tray ($290), and delivery ($1,075) took the bottom line to $62,885.
My wife drives a 2008 AWD RX 350 and it doesn’t have three-quarters of these options. Yet it’s the best vehicle we ever owned and serves us problem free. If you can live without a lot of the aforementioned amenities, the RX 350 is still quite an all-weather car.
RX 350 also performed well in the governments 5-star safety ratings. It earned four overall stars; three for driver frontal crash, four for passenger; five for front/rear seat side crash; and four for rollover.
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