Staking its claim in 1999 with the RX300, Lexus cornered the midsize luxury SUV market. For three generations, the RX has kept up with consumer demands. Today, there’s plenty of competition from the likes Acura, Audi, and Cadillac seeking to beat the Lexus RX at its own game. Despite this, the RX continues to outsell them all, remaining one of the most popular SUVs on the market and Lexus’ #1 seller. Having already tested the NX200t, GX460, and LX570, this RX350 rounds out the entirety of Lexus’ SUV model range.
This isn’t just an ordinary RX350, either. This is the top trim, performance tuned F Sport. It’s an SUV that makes a statement without making itself the center of attention. On the F Sport, you’ll immediately notice the different front bumper and an more aggressive spindle grille. It’s also paired with exclusive 19″ dark graphite wheels. Across all trims, the LED running lights, rear privacy glass and power liftgate are standard.
On the inside, you’ll find a slightly sportier interior to accompany the other changes. Its F Sport exclusive black leather interior with white stitching sets the stage. From there, you’ll notice other race-inspired details – the sport steering wheel with paddle shifters and aluminum pedals. Some critics have argued that the Lexus interior is just a really nice Toyota, but we beg to differ; everything you touch has a high-quality feel. From the inner workings of the infotainment system to the buttons and knobs, it all feels solid and well-put-together. However, the Lexus Remote Touch system that comes along with the Navigation Package is not the most user friendly system. It can be challenging to work your way through the different on-screen menus. For a midsize, the rear seat offers plenty of room for passengers. The adjustable seat slides as well as reclines.
Although the RX350 F Sport is tuned for more engaging drive and handling qualities, Lexus won’t sacrifice comfort. You do notice the impact of the sport tuned suspension and performance dampers but it offers a much more comfortable ride than you’d expect. Under the hood, the Lexus RX350 is equipped with a 3.5-liter V6. The V6 offers great pick up, pushing out 270 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque. Unlike the base model, the F Sport pairs the V6 to an eight-speed transmission. The standard RX350 only gets six gears. The eight-speed transmission does well following the driver’s instructions through the paddle shifters. It also helps with economy, offering 18 mpg city, 26 mpg highway, and 21 mpg combined. While those figures are not stellar, they are on par with the majority of its competitors.
Driving the RX350 is like piloting any number of midsize SUVs. The F Sport additions keep it slightly more composed than the competition, but you don’t find yourself owning one because it makes your spine tingle. One of its only areas of weakness was its brakes. Strangely, it seems to be the only area the F Sport package overlooked. Braking required an unexpected amount of pedal travel to get a solid bite.
It is worth noting that this generation has been around for quite some time. Launched in 2008 and given a refresh in 2012, the RX is due for an update. We look forward to the anticipated redesign and can’t wait to see how Lexus improves one of their most popular vehicles. It says a lot about a model when it remains the best in its class over the course of its entire model life. The Lexus RX 350 F Sport is clearly the gold standard when it comes to a sporty yet luxurious SUV. It has become the bar to which all others are compared. It encompasses all the things someone wants – a great design, enough power to evoke confidence, and the comfort one expects from the Lexus brand. For that reason, it remains on top.
|2014 Lexus RX350 FSport
|Blind Sport Monitor||$500|
|Navigation System w/ Voice Command||$1,915|
|Intuitive Parking Assist||$500|
|Cargo Mat, Cargo Net, Wheel Locks||$254|
|As Tested MSRP||$52,614|