When it debuted more than 15 years ago, the Lexus RX essentially defined the luxury crossover category. A consistent best-seller among luxury SUVs, it’s still a refined premium, midsize vehicle for five passengers. Lexus has tried to emphasize the “sport” element in the RX 350, including adding an F Sport edition, but it's mainly a vehicle for families who enjoy a strong taste of luxury in their travels.
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2016 Lexus RX 350 Overview
What's New for 2016
Lexus has fully redesigned the RX 350 for 2016, brandishing a new look, adapted from the smaller NX series, that’s boldly dramatic and stylish. Especially up front, where sharply acute angles clash with curves, framing a massive new grille, RX 350 appearance might also be described as radical. Nearly 5 inches longer than before, the RX 350 is more driver-focused and offers more interior space.
Choosing Your Lexus RX 350
Beneath the RX 350 hood, in either base or F Sport trim, the 3.5-liter V6 engine develops 295 horsepower (up 25 for 2016), mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive and 18-inch wheels are standard; all-wheel drive is optional. Fuel-economy is EPA-estimated at 20 mpg in city driving and 28 mpg on the highway with front-drive. All-wheel drive drops the estimate to 19/26 mpg.
Standard RX 350 equipment includes NuLuxe-trimmed seats, 10-way power front seats, reclining rear seats, a power tilt/telescopic steering column, power tailgate, heated power mirrors, Smart Access key, rearview camera, 8-inch screen, and 9-speaker audio. Start/stop technology, and electronic parking brake also are standard, along with LED headlights, daytime running lights, foglamps, and brake lights.
Lexus has a massive options list for the RX. Available features include a navigation system with built-in hard drive and 8-inch or 12.3-inch screen, Lexus Enform telematics, panoramic moonroof, and a 15-speaker Mark Levinson audio system with 7.1 surround sound. Optional active-safety features include blind-spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert, Intuitive Park Assist, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane-departure alert with steering assist, and a panoramic-view backup monitor.
The Luxury Package includes semi-aniline leather-trimmed seating, 20-inch chromed wheels, a heated steering wheel, rear-door sunshades, heated/ventilated front seats or power-folding/heated rear seats, and wood/aluminum interior trim. A Premium Package adds aluminum roof rails, driver’s memory, leather-trimmed front seats, and rain-sensing wipers.
Gets a sportier look and revised suspension tuning with performance dampers. F Sport standard equipment includes paddle shifters, F Sport instruments, heated/ventilated leather-trimmed front seats with unique stitching, and a perforated leather-wrapped steering wheel. The adaptive variable suspension includes Sport+ drive mode. Active sound generation gives the F Sport a distinctive tone.
Picking an F Sport doesn't transform the RX 350 into a sporty crossover, especially since both versions use the same powertrain. Fuel economy isn’t exactly a strong point, but it’s acceptable for this class. When consulting the huge option list, it pays to focus on those that promise a more satisfying road experience, such as the Mark Levinson audio system and Lexus’ appealing navigation system.
2016 Lexus RX 350 Review
The Lexus RX 350 continues to set a benchmark for mainstream five-passenger luxury crossovers. The new 2016 Lexus RX 350 gets a full redesign embodying the same top-notch quality attributes that the brand signifies with the addition of bold new styling and a long list of forward-thinking luxury and safety features.
Pricing and Equipment
The 2016 Lexus RX 350 is available in a variety of trims: the RX 350 base starting at $41,900, $49,125 for the RX 350 F Sport, $52,235 for the RX 450h hybrid model and $55,645 for the RX 450h Hybrid F Sport.
An all-wheel drive system with active torque control is standard in the RX 350 F Sport and optional in the base RX 350 and RX 450h Hybrid.
Our favorite RX 350 F Sport comes bundled with several upscale features that exude an extra level of sport, luxury and performance featuring the following add-ons:
- 20-inch alloy wheels
- Additional drive mode settings: Eco, Standard, Sport S, Sport S+
- Adaptive suspension dampers
- Leather upholstery with special interior trim
- Heated and ventilated front sport seats
- Steering wheel-mounted transmission shift paddles
- Special instrument cluster gauges
The redesigned 2016 Lexus RX 350 gets many new available features, such as a panoramic-view backup camera system and a large 12.3-inch infotainment display screen. A full array of active safety and assist features are now available bundled in option packages for all trim levels of the RX 350.
The 2016 Lexus RX 350 has one engine choice, a 3.5-liter V6 with 295 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque through an eight-speed automatic transmission. The F Sport trim improves upon the RX 350’s sporty driving traits with adaptive variable suspension that can be dialed up through the drive mode setting, and allows manually shifting of the eight-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel-mounted shift paddles.
- The Adaptive Variable Suspension system in the RX 350 F Sport delivers a controlled and smooth ride.
- The RX is rated for 20 mpg city and 28 mpg highway, and runs on now-recommended regular unleaded fuel.
- There's added stability thanks to the all-wheel drive system's active torque control.
- The additional 25 horsepower over its predecessor doesn't yield improved straight-line acceleration
- The base RX 350 lacks manual shift paddles on the steering wheel.
- Expect impeccable fit and finish with several soft-touch surfaces and and array of available accenting color choices.
- Seats in all RX trims are supportive and exceptionally comfortable, with additional bolstering support in the F Sport trim, which also boasts its heated and ventilated sport front seats.
- Sliding and reclining back seats provide ample legroom for virtually any sized occupants.
- There's less cargo space than competitors
- Remote touch interface can be cumbersome and requires too much attention, potentially distracting the drive from the road.
The Most Pleasant Surprise
The 2016 Lexus RX 350 has a bold style that is in your face -- a welcome departure from the mediocrity of its predecessor. Moreover, the attention to details within the sharp design lines, all-LED exterior lighting and aggressive F Sport trim accents set the RX 350 apart from the mundane.
The Least Pleasant Surprise
Acceleration leaves us wanting more, especially in the F Sport trim, which does not offer any additional oomph.
The Bottom Line
The 2016 Lexus RX 350 with its bold redesign tries something new for the brand’s top-seller. It shows that Lexus is listening to consumers and offering something far away from ordinary. The expected Lexus quality will carry the new RX 350 into a new mold that garners attention and value to justify its consistent pricing.