SEATTLE — With ever increasing competition in the premium midsize SUV market, one would think that it’s more of a challenge than ever, to deliver a competitive product. The RX 350 has been the best-selling vehicle for Lexus for many years running – selling well over 100,000 units per year. This 2019 model is easily the best they’ve developed thus far and the optional F-package gives it an extra sporty feel. However, it does come at a $5,000 upgrade over the standard model.
With the F-Sport trim level, you get 20-inch wheels, aluminum pedals, power folding side mirrors, an improved, “sport-tuned” suspension, paddle shifters, F-Sport leather, LFA-inspired trim and instrument cluster.
Under the hood is a potent 3.5 liter V6 engine that’s good for 295 horsepower with 267 lb-ft of torque. Factor in the vehicle weight over roughly 4300 pounds and you’ll see zero to sixty times around 7.7 seconds. Not bad for a modern crossover. Power is fed into an advanced all-wheel-drive system via an eight-speed automatic transmission. In the various drive modes, we found the transmission to provide quick shifts and did a good job of doing so smoothly.
Thanks to the F-Sport package, the interior is extra snazzy with design cues from Lexus’ F-Sport sport coupe cars. The instrument panel feels racy as does the rest of the interior, even though the F-Sport model isn’t any faster than the standard model.
Soft, supportive seats up front with a comfortable split bench in the back which is room enough for most adults. You’ll find the power-adjustable driver and passenger seats have enough adjustments available to help most people find a comfortable setting. The thing they’re missing, however, is the pull-out support for under your knees we find in many German luxury brand vehicles.
Our test model was equipped with the optional Mark Levinson system which harnesses a 15-speaker system and a 12.3-inch display. While the infotainment system still uses its notorious touchpad system to navigate your way around the screen, it does offer excellent sound reproduction, built-in navigation, AM/FM/XM Satellite radio, CD and Bluetooth audio.
Both driver and front passenger have power-adjustable seats that have solid lumbar support, good seat comfort overall and will help make any road-trip far more pleasant. That’s not to say that the rear seats are a horrible place, however, the split bench arrangement inherently isn’t quite as cozy but still rather comfy with plenty of legroom.
As far as cargo space goes, you have 18.4 cubic feet with the rear seat intact. Drop that seat, however, and the space grows to an impressive 56.3 cubic feet – more than enough for those shopping excursions to Costco.
On the road, the RX-350 F-Sport is well composed. It has minimal understeer under certain scenarios, however, has a good feel to it, overall. While it’s not incredibly fast off the line, it has more than enough power to get you up to the speed limit or to pass slower traffic with ease. It’s plenty quick for a vehicle in its class.
Hard corners saw mild body roll, however, nothing excessive for a crossover SUV and gives the driver a good sense of confidence and control. We had the opportunity to drive our test model in the “snowmageddon” snow storm that hit the Seattle area earlier this year. Even with all-season tires, the RX-350s all-wheel-drive system plowed through the snow rather handedly. Sure there was plenty of tire spin from time to time, however, the system quickly compensated for it and allowed for easy driving, even up steep hills.
After spending a week with the 2019 RX-350 F-Sport, it’s easy to understand why this model continues to be a stop-selling unit for Lexus. It’s a good combination of style, form, function and refinement. Of course, we’d love to see things addressed such as the touchpad interface and perhaps more all-wheel-drive features such as a crawl-control etc. But for now, it makes for a very compelling luxury crossover whose light looks bright for the foreseeable future.
For more info, check out: www.lexus.com