Wearing a new front fascia for 2013, the RX350 now has a spindle-style grille that fits in with the rest of its' Lexus family. Also new but shared is the aggressive F Sport trim; more commonly seen on models like the Lexus IS sedan. Yet the entire RX lineup seems altogether sportier, in large part due to the front-end redesign that better incorporates the sheet metal’s defining line, which stretches from the headlights to taillights.
Other new 2013 additions are found on the standard equipment list, consisting of a power liftgate and iPod/USB interface. Lexus comfort is included in the ride quality, which feels responsive but not stiff. However, this smooth ride is lost on the F Sport trim as it receives a performance-tuned suspension much too rigid for the RX350’s powertrain.
Speaking of which, a 3.5L V6 with 270 horsepower powers both the base model and F Sport. Although, an eight-speed automatic transmission is equipped on the F Sport while base RX350s have a six-speed automatic. Furthermore, the F Sport is all-wheel drive only, unlike the base that offers front- or all-wheel drivetrains. With all-wheel drive equipped, the base RX gets 18/25 mpg city/highway, falling just short of the F Sport that delivers 19/25 mpg. An impressive cabin does not have a third-row yet provides a spacious rear-seat that even adults shouldn’t complain about. Plus the second-row is a 40/20/40 split-folding seat, not 60/40 like in other crossovers. This means if an RX owner is, say, loading four-passengers (including themselves) and a 6-foot 2x4, they can fold-flat the middle “20” section of the rear seat to fit the 2x4, and still have both of the comfortable bucket seats (“40” sections) for two rear-passengers.
Though once the horse everyone else was chasing, the rest of the auto industry has caught up to Lexus in terms of crossover development. Almost as popular as the RX, Acura’s MDX is the epitome of what’s desired in a crossover/SUV and is equipped with three-rows of seats for a seven-passenger capacity. Plus the MDX is a good performer though it could use a little more low-end torque. The INFINITI FX is a thrill to drive, especially with the available V8 engine yet it has an uncomfortable interior when compared to the Lexus. Diesel power/efficiency is offered in the cramped Volkswagen Touareg while off-road prowess comes with a gas-guzzling engine in the Land Rover Range Rover Sport.
The Lexus RX helped introduce the world to car-based SUVs and remains relentless in pushing the segment forward.