It remains the best-selling luxury crossover on the market, especially among female drivers like my wife who owns a 2008 model. [I promise to remain impartial]
Most recently, the RX 350 earned a top honor in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Cars for Families Award. And J.D. Power gave the RX the highest ranking for 2013 crossover luxury brands.
For 2013, the RX 350 has undergone some styling changes that include sexy LED parking/running lights underlining the headlamps and redesigned tail lamp assemblies. Lexus also added a new F Sport model that comes with an 8-speed automatic transmission (instead of the standard 6-speed), standard 19-inch alloy wheels, sport tuned suspension and special styling touches.
Interior changes were also made, some good, some not so good. Although all Lexus’s have posh, classy interiors, Lexus wanted to keep up with the BMW clan by using a mouse controller for a variety of functions instead of conventional dials and buttons. I prefer the latter and as well as my wife’s’ blonde maple wood trim in her RX over the Black Birds Eye Maple wood trim in my test car - which looked dull in comparison. But step-in remains an easy 18 inches.
Lexus engineers, unfortunately, also did away with the full-length cargo bin underneath the cargo floor that my wife loves as it holds grocery bags without spillage. It was replaced with a small bin mainly because space was needed back there for a space saver spare tire - instead of a full-size as my wife has in her car.
New too – and I can’t reason why - is a three position driver’s memory seat instead of the customary two. Then there are the outside mirrors that automatically fold inward when locking the car via the keyfob, and a pop-out cup holder on the driver’s side dash.
To make the vehicle more social media friendly, Lexus’ Enform suite of apps connects to the cars’ Internet portal for Pandora, iHeart Radio, Open Table and MovieTickets.com sites. The GPS nav system (as well as the rearview camera) displays on a 7x4-inch LCD screen and is relatively easy to operate with Lexus’ Remote Touch interface via the mouse controller.
Despite its high popularity, the RX does not have a third row seat, hence seating is limited to five occupants. If you want more seating capacity, Lexus will gladly sell you their larger, 8-passenger LX 570.
Then there’s cargo capacity. Nothing has changed back here as it’s rated at 40 cubic feet with the back seats up and 80.3 with them folded. Exact measurements are 38.5 inches deep, 44 wide and 30 high with seats up. Flip the seats and there’s 70-inches of depth.
The RX offers spirited performance with its 3.5L, V6 that produces 270-hp and 248 lb/ft of torque upon coupling to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The combination rates EPA mileage estimates of 18 city, 24-highway mpg for the AWD version. If you want better economy, the RX is available in hybrid form.
As is, there is certainly no want for power both from a standing stop and while passing on a highway. It has been 0-60 tested at 7.1 seconds.
Handling is soft but controlled. If you want more road feel and a tauter ride, the “F” model may be for you. But the RX parked easily and had an impressively tight turning radius.
Ride quality is nothing short of comfy and smooth on optional 19-inch Dunlop tires. A compliant suspension nicely soaks up road imperfections and the cabin is hush quiet. Ditto for the V6 engine.
While I have yet to see a receiver hitch on any RX, it does carry a tow rating of 3,500 pounds. And for appreciable snow depths, there’s 7.3 inches of undercarriage clearance.
While the midsize SUV/crossover market is loaded with competition, the RX maintains a top-tier status that includes its price. My overly loaded test car had a base price of $40,710, but after adding a host of pricey option packages (like the $500 automatic parallel parking system), bumped it up to $50,860 including delivery. I might add that those packages contain everything and anything the discriminating buyer could want.
Incidentally, the RX 350 has been awarded four out of five stars for overall protection, four for frontal impact and five for side-impact protection. And it received the highest possible “Good” rating from the Institute for Highway Safety for its frontal-offset, side and roof strength.
To test drive an RX, stop in at Lexus of Lehigh Valley located in Cetronia. And to automatically receive auto news and reviews from Nick Hromiak, click on the “Subscribe” notation on this page.