WHAT IT IS: The RX 350 was a hit for Lexus even before the SUV crazy took off. It has gotten a bit larger and there is even an optional third row. The Toyota-owned luxury brand offers a combination of low maintenance and refined luxury that offers a less pretentious option than some of the more intense luxury brands from Germany or the United States. The RX 350 is still a status symbol, but to appeal to a younger generation of buyers, Lexus has refined the appearance of their cars to include aggressive-shaped headlights and body lines that paint a much more futuristic image than the refined carefree luxury of 10 to 15 years ago.
My test model was the AWD F SPORT, which is effectively the same engine and transmission, but a more aggressive exterior styling and sportier interior. It only commands about $3,500 more than the “base” RX 350, which doesn’t tip the scale too much on a $50,000 luxury SUV. The F SPORT package adds 20-inch wheels, badging and a revised front grille. It is a light touch but adds some more visual interest. The interior is where the RX 350 starts to convince buyers to take a strong look. It is extremely comfortable and luxurious, with nice metal accents and some F SPORT badging on sporty trim-specific seats.
You get a 295 horsepower V6 combined with an eight-speed automatic transmission and the F SPORT trim adds paddle shifters…. for some reason. I understand that you want to make it a sportier experience, and the paddle shifters aren’t exactly doing anything special, but I would imagine most owners will never touch them. The driving experience itself is actually really good. The F SPORT does have an adaptive suspension and it was comfortable over all forms of terrain and has more than enough power to get the job done. It certainly passes the test of, “Would I want to drive this for 15 hours in one day.”
MPG: 22 combined/19 city/26 highway
Price: RX 350 F SPORT AWD from $50,200.
Upsides: Refine and non-fussy luxury.
Downsides: No Android Auto
Wrap-up: If I am buying a Lexus RX, then I’m choosing the hybrid version (designated as the 450h) and I would choose the F SPORT. I think that the extra style that you get for $3,500 is worth the price mostly because I really like the F SPORT wheel design. The cabin is a beautiful place that you would be happy commuting in and it is large enough to comfortably seat 4 adults for a long trip. If you are dead set on getting the three-row version of the RX (designated by ‘L’) then that is what I would skip in the line. Look toward an actual three-row vehicle as they did everything they could to barely squeeze one into this model. There are tons of options in this price range but I would definitely place it toward the top of the list.