SEATTLE, November 28, 2014 — Lexus continues to turn heads with its current RX 350 lines of cross-over SUVs. This F Sport edition has the sporty nuances one would expect with an “F” moniker – a more aggressive styling, 19-inch wheels, aluminum pedals, and an 8-speed transmission.
Lexus’ bold look carries on in the RX 350 F Sport with the brand’s badge fitting right at home on the front grill. Its LED daytime running lights and HID headlamps and integrated fog lamps help polish off a great-looking SUV.
Under the hood, Lexus uses its 3.5-liter V6 engine which develops 270 horsepower and makes 90-percent of its 248 lb-ft of torque available at the lower rpm range which helps catapult this vehicle from 0-60 in around 7.4 seconds. Its responsiveness with the 8-speed automatic can feel a bit lagged at times but does a good job of getting up and going once the power kicks in. Lexus also has a manual mode for the transmission, complete with paddle shifters. The EPA rates fuel economy at 18 around town and up to 22 on the highway.
Interior quality is an area Lexus is known for and overall, there aren’t many disappointments here sans the somewhat dated-looking navigation mapping system and menus. The large infotainment screen is easy to read but can take a bit of getting used to in regards to navigating it.
Lexus has a center-column-mounted control paddle that moves in four directions which guides the on-screen cursor to where you need to go. It’s a bit surprising they didn’t augment this method with a touch-screen but most customers should be able to adapt rather quickly to the control paddle. Sound quality from the Mark Levinson audio system is very clear, however, lacks the stellar bass response we’ve heard in competing vehicles.
Front seats will either heat or cool, there’s plenty of legroom in the back for adult passengers and cup-holders are aplenty. Additionally, the rear seats do have a recline option which helps make those longer trips a bit more comfortable for passengers.
Our test model had the optional blind spot indicators as well as rear-view camera and the parking sensors which alert the driver to close things are getting to the vehicle. Other safety features include ABS brakes, active front headrests, height-adjustable 3-point seat belts with automatic retractors during a collision and a rain-sensing wiper system.
Storage capacity isn’t lacking in the RX350 as there’s over 40 cubic-feet available with the rear seats up and with the seats down you have a whopping 80 cubic-feet. More than enough for those large shopping trips to Costco.
A feature that’s standard on the F Sport is Lexus’ active torque control all-wheel-drive system which is said to actively monitor wheel slippage on all four wheels and make adjustments on the fly. It does this by varying the power between the front and rear axles as needed. Under normal conditions, 100 percent of the power is sent to the front wheels. Depending on what’s needed, however, up to 50 percent can be sent to the rear wheels. This all happens seamlessly to the driver to help maintain vehicle control.
Handling is very “car-like” and that’s not a bad thing. Considering that this vehicle weighs over 4500 pounds, it feels rather “light on its feet”. It has rather predictable cornering and body roll around hard corners but still does a good job of helping one feel in control at all times. It doesn’t have a hard ride nor one that’s too soft – there’s an overall good balance of stiffness and comfort for longer trips.
The RX 350 F Sport is a SUV that looks great on the road and does handle itself rather well under mild off-road conditions as well (with the right tires). Of course it’ll spend most of its life on the roads and not on trails but that’s just fine as most people who are in the market for an SUV like this are going to use it in that fashion anyways.
At the end of the day, Lexus has a formidable, competitive luxury SUV with some nice sporty accents on it that help it fare very well against other vehicles in its class like the Acura MDX, Infiniti QX60 and Audi Q5.
If you’re in the market for an SUV priced between $50-$60k then you should give yourself some time testing driving the RX 350 F Sport as it does a lot of things well.