When Lexus unveiled the fourth-generation RX at the 2015 New York International Auto Show, it represented the most substantial redesign in the popular crossover's history. Led by the RX 350, the 2017 model is more refined and comfortable than any of its predecessors.

And yet, while the RX has adopted several improvements from other Lexus models, it's also adopted some of the same critically derided features of the brand's other vehicles, including a polarizing fascia and a cumbersome infotainment interface. And like the last-generation RX, the naturally aspirated V6 in our RX 350 tester lacks the same straight-line punch of the turbocharged options from Germany.

Pricing and Equipment

As with the last-generation RX, Lexus sells both conventional and hybrid models (the RX 450h, listed separately). But unlike the all-wheel-drive only RX 450h, the RX 350 offers a greater variety for consumers, with standard front-wheel drive and available all-wheel drive as a $1,400 option.

Prices for the base RX 350 start at $44,015, including a mandatory $995 destination charge. Moving up to the RX 350 F Sport jumps up to $49,915. But since the F Sport is, broadly speaking, nothing more than interior and exterior style adjustments, we expect most consumers to spend their $5,900 in savings on optional extras (or a nice family vacation). Standard equipment on all RX 350s includes:

  • Ten-way leatherette seats
  • Nine-speaker audio
  • An eight-inch infotainment system
  • Lexus Safety System+ (forward collision warning with auto emergency braking and pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning with steering intervention, and lane keeping assist that operates with adaptive cruise control)
  • LED headlights and taillights
  • Dual-zone climate control
  • A leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls
  • Two USB outlets hidden in the center console

Option packages include a Luxury Package for $4,485 (20-inch wheels, leather upholstery with heated and ventilated seats, a wood-leather steering wheel, and ambient lighting) and a Navigation Package for $3,200 (navigation in a 12.3-inch center display, a 15-speaker Mark Levinson stereo, and the Lexus Enform telematics suite). To make things more complicated, the Navigation and Mark Levinson Package is available without the huge center display for $2,770 while the 12.3-inch nav setup is available without the upgraded stereo for $2,120. And oh yeah, the smaller nav system is also its own option group, available for $1,620. Families might be interested in the $2,095 Rear Seat Entertainment System, while a $960 Premium Package adds leather without forcing owners into the pricey Luxury Package.

Standalone options include upgraded LED headlights ($1,615), 20-inch wheels ($1,170), an auto-parking function ($535), heated seats ($440), heated and vented seats ($640), wood trim ($400), an around-view camera with rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring ($1,865), blind-spot monitoring ($1,065), a panoramic sunroof ($1,600), a normal-sized sunroof ($1,100), a head-up display ($600), and a heated steering wheel ($150). Naturally, selecting from the packaged options can throw the availability of these optional extras into complete disarray.

The biggest option is the F Sport package, which adds unique exterior body bits and 20-inch wheels, an adaptive suspension, an enhanced engine sound system, and plenty of interior upholstery and trim choices.

All RX 350s use a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 295 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic is available regardless of whether the RX is front- or all-wheel drive. The front-drive RX 350 will return 20 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on the highway for a 23-mpg combined rating. All-wheel drive drops those figures to 19 city, 26 highway, and 22 combined. The sprint to 60 takes a relaxed 7.7 seconds for the lighter front-drive model and 7.9 seconds with all-wheel drive.

Performance Pros

Lexus RX 350
  • The RX's eight-speed automatic is surprisingly brisk in its actions, which is a far cry from Lexus' past eight-speed transmissions.
  • The standard suspension provides a smooth, composed ride, while the sport-tuned adaptive suspension in the F Sport does a good impression of sporty handling.

Performance Cons

  • It's a Lexus crossover, so feedback through the steering and chassis is virtually absent.
  • A six-cylinder BMW X3 will annihilate the RX 350 in a straight line. 7.7 seconds to 60 is staggeringly slow for a luxury CUV.
  • On straight, round-trip highway run from Detroit to Chicago, we struggled to achieve the 22-mpg combined rating of our all-wheel-drive F Sport tester.

Interior Pros

  • Lexus' interior treatments are more stylish, modern, and most importantly, well-built than ever before. The RX 350 is the latest example of this trend.
  • That 12.3-inch center display might sound gaudy, but it looks spectacular atop the dash.
  • Even the sporty seats in the F Sport are remarkably comfortable over long-haul drives.
  • Plenty of different upholstery/trim combinations.

Interior Cons

Lexus RX 350
  • One of these days, Lexus will figure out how to build an infotainment system that doesn't occupy an inordinate amount of the driver's attention. But not today, because the RX's arrangement remains a distraction.
  • There are still a lot of buttons on the center console.
  • The small rear window compromises visibility.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

The cabin on our heavily optioned RX 350 F Sport is truly lovely. We did 600 miles of freeway cruising and would happily do 600 more.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

The combo of poor fuel economy and sluggish acceleration don't feel appropriate for a $45,000 luxury CUV.

The Bottom Line

Like so many Lexus models that came before, the 2017 RX 350 is a vehicle that excels on the luxury front in its fit, finish, ride comfort, and technology but at the expense of any sense of performance or driving fun. Fortunately, it's so good in the former category that we're willing to forgive shortcomings in the latter.