The 2013 Lexus RX 350 F Sport AWD was added to the Lexus RX 350 trim line offering in 2013 to provide a more macho version of the successful RX 350 that would provide all of the Lexus luxury and performance of the RX 350 but be packaged with a more rugged look and higher performing drive elements.
We have recently had an opportunity to test drive a 2013 Lexus RX 350 F Sport for a week around Central Texas.
Having driven the 2013 Lexus RX 350 AWD previously, which impressed us with its luxury and performance, we were looking to see if the F Sport with its MSRP premium of almost $6,000, added enough to the driver experience for that price premium.
Outside and inside, the 2013 Lexus RX350 F Sport AWD does provide a more macho look with its 19-inch five-spoke sport alloy wheels in a Dark Graphite finish, more aggressive body trim work around the front and rear fender wells, a bold new Sport bumper and mesh grille and exclusive interior enhancements like perforated black leather-trimmed seats with white perforation holes and white contrast stitching accents on the seats, center console and door armrests.
The F Sport interior also features a new Ebony Bird’s Eye Maple trim for an added touch of sports elegance and perforated leather-wrapped steering wheel showcasing the “F” logo and aluminum pedals.
The power train for the RX 350 F Sport features the same engine as all of the RX 350 models, a 3.5-liter V-6 Dual Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) engine with 270 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 248 lb.-ft of torque at 4,700 rpm.
The F Sport comes exclusively with an eight-speed Electronically Controlled Transmission with intelligence (ECT-i) and paddle shifters.
Though Lexus intended it to provide enhanced performance when compared to the RX 350 using the six-speed automatic, we thought the performance of the eight-speed automatic was less than optimal.
We found the automatic shifting of the eight-speed transmission to be slightly off (too early or too late on the revs) from being able to give the peak performance that this power train should have.
Lexus says that the RX 350 F Sport power train was designed to give a smooth and quick shifting response with miniature high-flow linear solenoids that allow a more precise clutch operation coupled with a torque converter that uses a low-speed lockup damper to enable lock-up from first to eighth gear to improve the fuel economy.
We think that this design, and its tuning, may actually be impeding the performance of this power train in order for the Lexus RX 350 F Sport to deliver a respectable average fuel economy of 21 mpg with EPA fuel efficiency ratings of 18/26 mpg city/highway similar to its siblings.
Driving the F Sport, we found that use of the paddle shifters routinely all but negated this effect, so we found ourselves driving the F Sport almost exclusively with the paddle shifters. This probably cost us one or two miles per gallon on fuel, but we think the buyer of an F Sport would be okay with that. We were.
One of the signature attributes of a Lexus is its extremely comfortable ride and handling in a variety of driving conditions and situations that may be encountered.
Lexus has made several changes in the F Sport to try and retain those attributes while delivering a more engaging and sporty handling experience.
The RX 350 F SPORT features an electronically controlled Active Torque Control AWD system. The Active Torque Control AWD varies the torque distribution anywhere from 100:0 to 50:50 front to rear, depending on driving dynamics and road conditions.
The F SPORT upgraded suspension provides firmer shocks and springs designed to give a more engaging driving experience. A unique lateral performance damper system absorbs and minimizes body vibrations, resulting in a more linear steering feel and enhanced ride comfort.
A Vehicle Dynamics Integration Management (VDIM) handling technology system anticipates loss of vehicle control and governs all of the vehicle’s dynamic handling systems – the Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Brake Assist (BA), Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Traction Control (TRAC) – with the electronic throttle control system. The VDIM system integration of the handling elements is designed to help make corrections while allowing higher dynamic capability.
The 19-inch wheels, in addition to adding the macho look, also provide a taller stance on the road in order to take advantage of the different power train and the suspension and ride control changes for the F Sport.
Our assessment is that the Lexus RX 350 F Sport achieves most of the intended drive and handling objectives Lexus intended.
Other reviewers have observed that the F Sport rode and handled more harshly than the RX 350. We think it should. We did not find that harsher ride to be troublesome as some have expressed. Quite to the contrary, we would have preferred it to be tighter and even more robust to fully deliver the engaging driving experience potential intended for the RF Sport.
Our 2013 Lexus RX 350 RF Sport, with a $47,000 MSRP, came well equipped with the usual standard RX 350 features. For the F Sport trim level, it also included perforated leather trimmed seating with heating and ventilation, a power tilt-and-slide moon roof with power sunshade, rear armrest storage compartment with cover, roof rails, power- folding mirrors, HID headlamps with auto leveling, transmission cooler and heavy duty radiator and alternator.
Available options included were:
A Heads-up Display for $1,200 which also included a feature to display Navigation turn information when needed, Intuitive Parking Assist for $500 and the Blind Spot Monitor for $500.
The optional infotainment items included the Navigation System for $2,775 and the Mark Levinson Premium 15-speaker Sound System for $995.
This 2013 Lexus RX 350 AWD F Sport priced out delivered at $53,865.
Our final thought on the 2013 Lexus RX 350 AWD F Sport is that if you want to drive a Lexus as your luxury five-passenger crossover SUV, the RX 350 will give you as much as you need at the Lexus luxury level.
But, if you want to pump up the volume to a more macho level in a RX 350 yet retain all of the Lexus luxury attributes and you also enjoy the driving control that paddle shifter driving gives you, the RF Sport is a very good choice.