It might draw an argument from some, but many give Lexus credit for introducing the concept of the luxury crossover vehicle to the market. Now, many years later, they continue to lead the pack when it comes to sport utility vehicles that bathe you in comfort and spoil you with toys.
I spent a week behind the wheel of the RX350, and grudgingly handed the keys over at the end of the trial. Here’s what I came away with:
Let’s start outside. The RX has beautiful lines, with a distinctive nose and a stylishly-swept rear end. It might technically compete with the likes of the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the BMW X-3, but it wins in the looks category.
Slide behind the wheel and you know instantly that you’re in a Lexus. Comfortable seating and high-quality materials surround you, while good sight lines provide ample visibility. The gear shift is located on the dash, which I’ve decided is a great idea, if only to free up space to rest your arm on the center console. Visually, the entire cockpit looks smart.
If you’re shopping for an SUV or crossover with a third row, the RX350 isn’t for you. However, if seating for five is plenty for you - with the bonus of good storage capacity in the back - then this is your baby. Adults won’t feel cramped in the back seat.
Under the hood the RX comes standard with a V6 that pumps out about 270 horses. You can opt for either front-wheel or all-wheel drive (a no-brainer in Colorado, but still). I found the acceleration and overall ride impressive, with feathery steering that always makes a Lexus a joy to drive.
One of the few dings that I would point out is really a matter of taste. The master screen that controls your audio/climate/navigation/etc looks fine, but the mouse-like device at the heart of it is pretty touchy. I can see it as a safety issue in many cases, because instead of just hitting a button you have to maneuver through a screen or two, and I find that distracting and somewhat annoying.
Hard to knock Lexus, however, when all of the manufacturers are getting to this point. People apparently demand this type of interface. I wish the big boys in the industry would offer a choice: mouse or buttons.
Even though the RX350 comes with fairly generous standard features, there are some option packages available that make the experience even better. The backup camera has become a hit in the industry, and the blind-spot warning is getting to that same level of adoration.
Mileage clocks in at around 21 combined. The base price of my test vehicle showed an MSRP of $47k, while options bumped the final sticker to about $53k.
Given the surge in popularity of luxury crossover choices, Lexus has done a terrific job of maintaining their reputation for a quality, comfortable, but powerful ride. The RX350 carries on a proud tradition.
Reviewed by Dom Testa, vehicle provided by the manufacturer.