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.
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.