On Sunday, when the first big snow of 2013 hit Denver, I was in no rush to get out into the weather. Looking out the window at the 2013 Lexus RX 350 F-Sport, it had a pile of snow drifting across the hood - from 1.5 feet up the windscreen to the front edge of the SUV.
Nevertheless, needing to run some errands and having gotten around in worse storms in the Subarus I used to own, I decided at least I had a car that could handle the weather in style and reassuring comfort. I was but minutes away from one of the most pleasant drives ever in a fresh Denver snowstorm.
I tackled the snow-covered beauty with a broom, pushing the snow off the hood, the roof and the bumpers, making a special point out of clearing the lights and side view mirrors.
This is an important safety obligation in such weather and you see a lot of people driving what appears to be a snow bank with only a 9-inch peephole to see where they are going.
This is lazy, irresponsible, irrational and anti-social behavior that can easily result in harm to these drivers or others on the streets.
Anyway, while I was clearing the snow, I had the car running, turned on the front and rear defrost, and moved the drivers seat heat setting to the second level. When finished, I tried to lock the Lexus with the smart-key, but it wouldn’t lock while running. So I had to turn it off and lock it up while I went back in to pull everything together for my errands.
This didn’t take more than five to ten minutes and when I got back to the RX 350 the seat was still warm. Once you have driven a car with heated seats in winter, one without this feature simply will not do!
When I pulled away from the curb there was still eight to 12 inches of snow in the road, but the 19-inch alloy wheels moved through the deep snow like it was nothing, with the aid of full time active torque control all-wheel-drive.
Driving down Broadway on Sunday afternoon - on snow packed and icy streets - the 2013 Lexus RX 350 F-Sport seemed to ignore the weather completely – it would accelerate from a stop well and brake to a stop with little apparent difficulty. In weather I wasn’t really anxious to get out it.
Inside the car, it was warm and toasty and we liked the improvement of a top mounted rear window wiper that did a far better job of clearing the area you need to see through than the bottom anchored type.
The phone paired up easily and within minutes my favorite tracks were playing via Bluetooth. The RX 350 F-Sport got me around town in the frosty weather with ease, handling smoothly thanks to power electric rack and pinion steering.
Of course all the latest versions of Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake force distribution and braking assist were onboard to assist as needed.
The one time I underestimated a light change and had to stop quickly, all these systems worked together remarkably, though the most apparent was anti-lock braking. From a residential speed of just under 30 mph, we managed to stop with no spin whatsoever within 30 to 35 feet on slick pavement.
Over the next few days, the weather improved more quickly than the streets, but as snow melted and then froze into ice, the Lexus continued to get about town without the slightest problem – much more steady on its feet than most of the people trying to walk about. That probably also had something to do with the F-Sport tuned suspension.
Lexus has always been on the cutting edge of technology and the heads up display that appears to be floating over the hood is in keeping with that tradition. It displays your speed and gear setting (handy when using the paddle shifters) in while letters easily visible except when the area before you is extremely bright. At night, it’s as the numbers are pasted onto thin air, they are so clear.
There's also a Blind Spot Monitor along with a rearview camera and Intuitive parking assistance. The navigation system comes with voice command, destination assist, eDestination, NavWeather, Stocks, Sports and Fuel Prices plus a Sirius XM subscription prepaid for a full year.
Then there’s the whole suite of Lexus Enform apps, the 15-speaker Mark Levinson Surround Sound system, Safety Connect with automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle locator, emergency contact button and enhanced Roadside Assistance, also thanks to a prepaid one-year subscription.
Other essential amenities include heated and cooled, 10-way powered leather seats, rain-sensing wipers, Xenon automatic headlamps, those sexy LED running lights, and a power moonroof.
Stylish touches include aluminum sport pedals, a three-spoke F-Sport steering wheel, premium roof rails and real wood trim.
Getting down to nuts and bolts, the 2013 Lexus RX 350 F-Sport is powered by a 3.5-liter, four cam, 24-valve V8 engine developing 270 hp channeled through an eight-speed automatic transmission.
For those who want a greener ride, there is a hybrid version, but anything labeled F-Sport is built for those who value performance over all else, with the possible exception of comfort in a Lexus.
The EPA rates the mileage for the luxury SUV at 18 city and 26 highway with an overall Five Star safety rating from the NHTSA.
The 2013 Lexus RX 350 F-Sport has a base price of $47,000 and with installed options came to $53,865 including the $895 destination price.
If you need a car to get you around reliably in inclement weather – in enviable comfort and safety – you could do far worse than this luxurious SUV.