When a 2017 Lexus RX 350 showed up in my driveway this week I couldn’t help but be impressed.
The RX 350 is the best-selling vehicle in Lexus’ lineup and it’s not hard to see why. It’s a stylish, luxurious mid-size SUV that fits the budget of more than a few premium buyers. That is to say, blink and you might miss one in the lane next to you.
My anything but ho-hum tester succeeds in branching out of soccer mom territory with the popular F Sport treatment, which, for the RX, is more about sportier looks than turning it into a performance SUV.
The F Sport trim spices up the tried-and-true crossover with more aggressive styling, a sportier cabin, and firmer suspension. My test model stands out from the crowd in a Matador Red Mica hue. F Sport exterior highlights include a blackout mesh grille plus larger 20-inch aluminum alloy dark metallic finish wheels.
My two-row tester seats five (though it’s worth noting that Lexus is working on a new three-row RX possibly due out as a 2019 model.) The all-black leather interior is luxurious, as you’d expect, well-thought-out, and full of quality, soft-touch materials. The leather-wrapped, heated, steering wheel is equipped with easy to use controls. Aluminum pedals greet your feet underneath.
I’m a big fan of Lexus’ easy to read colorful, bright LFA-inspired instrumentation cluster. But what really steals the show inside is a huge 12.3-inch split-infotainment screen. Wow does it have outstanding resolution and color. Maps look great as does the rear view camera view and an optional 360-degree panoramic camera view of your surroundings along with safety features like Lexus Park Assist.
The screen is part of a $3,200 package that also includes a premium 15-speaker Mark Levinson surround sound system. Add on the sizable moonroof for another $1,100. The RX comes with Toyota’s Enform infotainment system and like in other Lexus models, the Remote Touch joystick used to control it is a bit cumbersome and finicky. But the longer you use it the more you get used to it.
What surprised me most about the interior is the driver’s seat. It just wasn’t comfortable for me. Since that’s not my usual Lexus experience I did some digging and found out the F Sport comes with its own “highly supportive quilted” seats. Fair warning, “highly supportive” means not very cushiony. Extremely snug seat bolstering didn’t help either, though I liked the bolstering in the Lexus IS 350 F Sport. Despite trying multiple positions on the 10-way power adjustable seat with some fairly stiff lumbar support settings, I couldn’t find my sweet spot. But that’s just me.
Fortunately for me, rain sensing wipers are a new standard RX feature for 2017, because I had to use them quite a bit during my week with the RX. They automatically speed up and slow down based on the rate of rainfall.
The RX is also equipped with expected features like dual-zone climate control and heated/cooled front seats. Legroom is fine in the back and there is plenty of trunk cargo space. The rear seats, of course, fold down for more of it.
The RX delivers Lexus’ typical quiet, smooth, ride. Its V6 engine is good for 295 horsepower and 268 lb.-ft. of torque. The F Sport, available in either all-wheel or rear-wheel drive, comes with an 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters. The “SPORT S+” drive mode gives you a slightly firmer F Sport-tuned suspension. All this said, don’t expect the fun to drive tighter steering of the IS 350 F Sport. But we are, after all, talking about a sedan versus a mid-size SUV here.
If you’re deciding between a used 2016 RX and a 2017, you’re better off with the 2017 and here’s why. All 2017 RXs now come standard with Lexus Safety System+. It includes Pre-Collision System, Forward Collision Warning, Automatic Emergency Braking, Pedestrian Detection, All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist and Lane Keep Assist.
For an extra $1,875, an optional package adds on Panoramic-view Monitor with Blind Spot Monitor with Intuitive Parking Assist and Rear Cross-Traffic Braking.
All in all, the RX reigns supreme in the mid-size luxury SUV segment for a reason and that’s not going to change anytime soon.