By on May 7, 2013

I remember when the RX rolled onto the scene in 1998. It was truly the first successful crossover as we would know it today. While everyone else was trying to produce a truck-based luxury SUV, Lexus took the Camry/ES platform, put a jelly-bean inspired box on top and jacked the ride height up to 7.7 inches. The result was instant sales success. As we all know however, success has a price. The marshmallow-soft FWD RX lacked road feel, steering feel and sex appeal. Although it’s a bit late in the game, Lexus has decided to fix that last problem with the introduction of the 2013 RX F-Sport.

YouTube Preview Image

F-Sport is to Lexus what M-Sport is to BMW. (No, not M, M-Sport.) That means the RX gets a new grille, flashier wheels, some suspension upgrades, a new transmission and interior tweaks. You’ll notice I didn’t say “more power.” That’s because this is “F-Sport,” not F.

We should talk competitions first so we can discuss the F-Sport in the proper light. First up, the MDX. We need to cross that one off the list. Why? Primarily because it has seven seats, but also because the all-new MDX is being shown off in the next month or so. (Check back for an RX vs MDX overview at that time.) That leave us with the Lincoln MKX, Cadillac SRX, Volvo XC60 and the Audi Q5. Yes, in some ways the BMW X3 and Mercedes GLK compete, but their RWD drivetrains put them in a different league. Not to mention Mercedes and BMW owners don’t seem to see the RX as competition.

2013 Lexus RX 350 F-Sport, Exterior, Front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

The nuts and bolts of the RX date back to 2009 when the platform received its third redesign, while the bumpers received a nip/tuck for the 2012 model year. The 2013 F-Sport builds on that refresh, retaining the new spindle grille but swapping horizontal slats for the signature F-Sport “squiggle” grille. Since our readers have complained we don’t offer enough subjective styling criticism, here we go. I’m feeling the love for Lexus’ F-Sport nose, especially on the RX. The new IS F-Sport takes the F-Sport squiggle theme to the extreme with lines going from the hood to the air dam, but the RX breaks things up with a body-colored bumper section in the middle. Overall I find the look elegant with just a hint of aggressiveness. My only issue is: every RX should look like this.

I’m not sure what Lincoln’s engineers were smoking when they styled the MKX’s nose, but it must have been some strong stuff. As much as folks think I dislike GM products, I find the SRX to be aggressive, bold, and stylish, all in good ways. The Q5 makes me yawn. Volvo’s styling has always struck a chord with me, but the Swedes aren’t known for bold and daring. The MDX? I can’t get past the beak. My personal style ranking would be: SRX, RX F-Sport, XC60, Q5 and then the MKX. Sorry Lincoln.

Interior

The 2012 refresh didn’t bring sweeping changes to the interior. In truth, aside from an infotainment software update and a new steering wheel, the only changes were to the color palette. That means we still get the slightly rubbery (but still soft) injection molded instrument panel dominated by an infotainment screen. The shifter still pops horizontally out of the dash, and we still have 2009-era plastics. Keeping the competition in mind, the MKX has an interior style I appreciate more, and has more soft-touch plastics. However, Lincoln’s interior quality is more of a mixed bag than the Lexus. The Audi Q5 strikes me as a little cheap on the inside, sorry Audi fans. The Volvo scores points in my book for diverging from the typical CUV interior style and ties with the SRX in terms of style, fit and finish and interior feel. The Lexus slots in second, followed by the MKX while the Q5 brings up the rear.

Back in the RX, the front seats are comfortable and supportive, just as you expect from Lexus, but the passenger seat doesn’t have the same range of electric adjustibility as the driver’s seat. In tune with the RX’s mission as an upscale crossover, (marketed towards buyers older than the RAV4 rabble) the rear seats are higher off the ground and more suitable for adult transportation. Thanks to the FWD based drivetrain, the RX has no differentiable “hump” in the rear making sitting three-across far less painful than RWD based crossovers. Cargo hauling is the RX’s strong suit with the largest hold of the bunch.

Infotainment

You won’t find many examples on dealer lots, but base RX models get a standard 7-inch “multi-information” screen in the dashboard. Available as a separate $860 option, standard on F-Sport and included on most option packages is the “display audio” system. Display audio bumps you up to an 8-inch LCD with a backup cam, HD Radio, rotary controller in the center console and the 12-speaker Lexus branded audio system. This middle system is my personal preference because it is the only way to get the 8-inch screen without Lexus’ joystick controller device.

Lexus calls the controller “remote touch,” I call it the most aggravating input method so far. Remember Volvo’s pop-up nav with the controller on the back of the steering wheel? This is worse. Don’t get me wrong, the system is easy to use; it works like a computer mouse: just point and click. My problem is two fold. First, you have to spend more time staring at the screen to operate the system than you did with the old Lexus touchscreen interface. Second, the location of the controller makes it difficult for your front passenger to use the system. If you want to know more, check out the video at the top of this page.

2013 Lexus RX 350 F-Sport, Interior, Center Console, Picture Console of Alex L. Dykes

If SMS text-to-speech and smartphone app integration are must haves, be prepared to shell out $2,775 for that navigation system ($1,916 over the display audio system). Nearly three grand is a steep premium, even in this segment. On the flip side you do get full voice commands for your USB/iDevice, XM radio with XM data services, and Lexus tosses in the 12-speaker sound system.

I appreciate my tunes, do I’d also need to splurge on the $995 15-speaker Mark Levinson sound system. With 330-watts and a subwoofer, the system is a noticeable step up from the base or 12-speaker systems, but is not as impressive as the 650-watt system in the XC60, or the Meridian systems in the Range Rover Evoque. With the blind spot monitoring system ($650), the nav, up-level sound and parking sensors, our RX 350 F-Sport rang in just under $53,000 without destination.

Drivetrain

Since F-Sport isn’t about power, you’ll find an identical 270 horsepower 3.5L V6 engine under the hood of the RX 350 and the RX 350 F-Sport. This is the same smooth “2GR-FE” engine used in everything from the Toyota RAV4 to the Lexus ES 350. That also means this mill doesn’t benefit from Lexus’ direct-injection sauce used to increase power and torque in the IS and GS. With only 248 lb-ft of twist on tap at a lofty 4,700 RPM, the only competitor with less is the Volvo XC60 3.2. But we must compare apples-to-apples and that’s a problem here because Volvo also offers the most powerful engine in this segment at 325 HP and a whopping 354 lb-ft of twist from the 3.0L twin-scroll turbo in the XC60 R-Design.

To compensate for the power deficit, Lexus connected the V6 to the world’s first 8-speed automatic transaxle. The new U880F transaxle features a much lower effective first gear ratio at 17.31:1 vs 14.48 for the non-F-Sport model (gear x final drive) and a taller final gear at 2.28:1 vs 2.66:1. The new ratios make the F-Sport quicker off the line, quicker to 60 by 4/10ths and improves fuel economy by 2MPG on the highway. The 18/26 MPG (city/highway) score ties with the 8-speed Q5 3.0T for the best fuel economy, 2-3MPGs better than the Americans or the Swede.

Drive

The RX has never been known as a corner carver, something that is expected of a sports package. So Lexus stiffened the dampers, fiddled with the springs, made the optional low-profile rubber standard and dropped in a version of the cross damping system found in the CT hybrid hatchback. The system uses two braces with integrated gas-shocks, connecting the left and right side of the chassis (front and rear). The braces aren’t there to increase rigidity, but rather to absorb and compensate for body vibrations. I wouldn’t say the system makes a night and day difference, but driving the F-Sport back-to-back with a “regular” RX on broken pavement, there was a difference. Depending on what you expect from your RX, that difference may excite or disappoint. If you want a marshmallow soft ride with more shove, get the RX 450h. If you’re just interested in a polished ride, get the regular RX 350 since the F-Sport tuning seems almost at odds with the RX’s mission.

You notice I didn’t say: wider tired. Most companies include wider and grippier rubber in their sports packages, but that could have led to more road noise, lower fuel economy and a crashier ride. Those don’t sound very “Lexus” to me, and apparently the engineers thought the same. Pity. While this is an omission you can fix aftermarket, the narrow 235-width tires and hefty 4,510lb curb weight mean the RX lands at the bottom of the pack when it comes to grip. That means even the porky 4,430lb MKX manages to hustle through the twisties with more poise than the RX. If grip is what you seek, look no further than the XC60 T6 AWD R-Design thanks to the lowest curb weight and some seriously wide 255/45R20 rubber. You know, for this segment.

2013 Lexus RX 350 F-Sport, Gauges, Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

The case for the F-Sport starts to fall apartwhen you look at that $53,000 price tag and consider our RX lacked a few options like the heads-up display and radar cruise control. That’s a $7,000 premium over the faster Volvo XC60 T6, and a $3,000 premium over Volvo’s performance trimmed XC60 R-Design. Feature for feature, the F-Sport commands a higher price than the Lincoln, Cadillac or Audi as well, not to mention those Germans we didn’t talk about. Lexus counters with a reliability and dealer reputation that is second to none. But, you can have plenty of off-warranty repairs done to your Euro crossover for the difference. Still, the RX leases well thanks to a high residual value and I suspect that has something to do with its continued dominance when it comes to sales.

Lexus has, without a doubt, created the perfect RX. It looks better than the regular RX, goes faster, is more economical, and handles slightly better as well. If you’re reading this because you want the RX, then go ahead and buy one. If however you want the best handling and performing small luxury crossover, stop by the Volvo dealer. Want sexy? Check out the 2014 Evoque with the new 9-speed.

Hit it or Quit It?

Hit it

  • I have to admit, the F-Sport nose job works for me
  • Lexus reliability reputation

Quit it

  • Down on power compared to everyone else.
  • Lexus Remote Touch. Enough said.

Lexus provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.35 Seconds

0-60: 6.55 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 15 Seconds @ 92 MPH

Average Observed Fuel Economy: 19.2 MPG over 679 miles

 

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54 Comments on “Review: 2013 Lexus RX 350 F-Sport (Video)...”


  • avatar

    “Lexus calls the controller “remote touch,” I call it the most aggravating input method so far”

    Now that just about every crossover looks just like the RX, why buy one?

    • 0 avatar

      As highlighted in the review: Quality, refinement, retained value, reliability (rare in the luxury classes), dealer experience, hybrid drivetrain (if you select it), snob value better than Acura/Infiniti/Cadillac/Volvo (although I like many of those models more) but worse than BMW/MB/Audi.

      Sort of a silly question, especially since few buy an RX especially for its looks previously.

      • 0 avatar
        Ltd783

        I have to slightly disagree with the snob value. While I agree that for most, MB/BMW/Audi are top of the “mainstream” luxury brands, I don’t think Lexus sits above the Japanese luxury brands, it’s lodged right in there with them. Lexus is pretty mainstream when every secretary in my office can drive an ES or RX. I’d put Lexus as equal with Acura/Infiniti/Lincoln/Cadillac, and I’d put Volvo’s snob appeal as equal to or 1% below BMW/Audi/MB. That’s what I like about Volvo’s, really nice cars, that say nothing about the driver other than possibly safety minded. No $30k millionaire comments are directed at Volvos it seems.

        • 0 avatar

          I disagree with Cadillac/Lincoln being lumped in there with Infiniti and Acura.

          Though the majority of these models are front-wheel-drive snooze boxes with roughly the same technology offered, the Cadillacs offer a “soul” – even moreso than the Lincolns.

          Chrysler offers lower material quality than probably all of the above, but I prefer Chryslers because they are the only company building an American car the way I feel an American car should be built.

          My youth was filled with Mercury, Ford and Lincoln. Only Chrysler builds cars like that anymore.

          Those Lincolns and Cadillacs don’t measure up because they don’t offer big engines and RWD anymore – with the exception of the CTS-V.

          Volvo has 0% snob appeal. When I see someone driving a Volvo, I wonder why on Earth they do.

          With so many MB/BMW and Audi being sold used off-lease, they are quickly losing their snob appeal. Snobs are gonna end up having to buy Bentley, Rolls Royce and other unaffordable barges just to stay ahead of new-money youth.

          • 0 avatar
            Ltd783

            We’re not talking about what kind of cars are cool to car guys, or that guys liked in the 1960′s, we’re talking about today’s snob appeal, or rather, perceived expense and luxury to the average person standing on the street seeing your car drive by. While it personally pains me, I do know someone who cross shopped a Lincoln MKX (Ford Edge) with a Land Rover LR3. The average consumer sees a Lincoln, Cadillac, Volvo, Infiniti or Lexus the same way, a nice, fully loaded kind of car; not the top of the line, but a definite step above the mainstream brands like Chevrolet, Ford, Chrysler, Honda, Toyota and Hyundai/Kia.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          That may be Cadillac right now, but with the ATS, XTS and the upcoming new CTS, Escalade, ATS coupe and ELR, that should gradually shift Cadillac more to BMW/MB/Audi side of the luxury market.

          Add the Omega flagship and a couple of variants (CUV, 4-door coupe) and Cadillac’s rise as a true competitor to the Germans should be pretty much complete.

  • avatar
    RRocket

    I actually find the remote touch one of the easiest to use. With the haptic feedback, once you know which menu you’re after, you merely count the “bumps” from the feedback until you’re at the right menu. Make a mistake? One button push to get back to the main menu. Once you know which menu, you rarely need to look at the screen.

  • avatar
    cpthaddock

    To my eyes, the RX exterior remains a close clone resuscitation of the Pontiac Aztek.

    I believe that Lexus missed a gigantic opportunity to help fix the RX’s image by not providing one for Walter White to drive.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    The 3.5 V6 is a gem of an engine, but it’s nearly overly tasked in this application, and mated to a rather svelte RAV4 it was a little overwhelming. Still, you can embarrass a lot of people at a stoplight getting on the stupid pedal in a RAV4 with a V6, including yourself for being in one.

    • 0 avatar
      Michael S.

      This. It’s just not a torquey engine.

      For “sportiness” you’d be better off with a Rav4 Sport V6. Same motor, stiff suspension, same tire width (235/55/18), lower center of gravity, and about 1000 pounds less to go. Oh, and about 20k less. Sure, the Rav lacks insulation, infotainment, and a non-craptastic interior (five dozen plastic panels… one dozen screws). You’re also missing out on the rear door rattling whilst driving down the highway, so that might be worth 20 grand for some folks.

      The problem is that Toyota doesn’t need to make a truly athletic RX. That’s not what Lexus buyers want. The increased fuel economy in the 8-speed and the different colors will be the selling point for these. People don’t buy an RX to have as a daily driver capable of pulling a bass boat on the weekends. They just needed to make something a little more fun to drive that had less body roll when merging into interstate traffic.

  • avatar
    maxxcool7421

    minus the ds-4 i’d hardly call this a ”sport”. unload the kids stuff and my 5-speed 12′ model will out run it.

  • avatar
    suspekt

    So many problems with this article

    1. RE: MDX
    –> you cant get past the beak and therefore the whole design is thrown out? The 2nd MDX is a styling icon. 5 years into its model run with only minor updates, it looks FRESH as anything coming from any manufacturer at any price point. It set the bar on how to style a mid-size SUV. Vehicles from the Mercedes ML down to the Chevy Equinox cribbed the sculpted wheels fenders YET NONE to this date have properly executed the way in which Acura designed those fender bulges.

    2. RE: F-Sport Nose on RX
    –> I actually really really like the new spindle grill Lexus offers BUT its executed most poorly on the RX and LS.
    Why? Because those were refreshes where the original design was never intended for the spindle grill treatment. On the RX, it looks especially forced and lacks depth to the design. It looks cheap actually.

    The spindle maw is best executed on:
    #1. Lexus IS: The new IS was designed with the spindle grill in mind from day 1 of the design studies. In F sport guise, the IS looks simply amazing. The BMW 3 series front end looks butch by comparison. Actually, the Mercedes C Class (oldest of the bunch) has the best ratio of aggressive-elegance.

    #2. Lexus GS: It looks great on the GS especially in F sport guise. Again, the GS was designed with the spindle in mind however not to the extent the IS was.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      The MDX is out for several reasons, the most important is: it seats 7, that means it isn’t in the same class as the RX. The MDX is also a lame duck vehicle with the new one rolling out later this month.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        I really would say that the current MDX (which I am very fond of) is closer to the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz ML-Class, two crossovers that are somewhat truck-like. The all-new 2014 MDX (which I do not at all like) seems like it will go after large people-carrying luxury crossovers, like the Buick Enclave, Infiniti JX and Lincoln MKT…

        • 0 avatar
          needsdecaf

          The MDX is closer to the X5 and ML because they are more truck-like???? None of these three is truck like. I own one and have extensively driven the others. Why are they truck like?

          The new MDX is only marginally larger than the outgoing model….

          Your comment doesn’t make much sense.

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            I say truck-like in that they are very capable vehicles and all offer or come standard with advanced all-wheel-drive systems…which makes them a cut above your run-of-the-mill “soft” CUVs like the Cadillac SRX, Lexus RX or Lincoln MKX. Perhaps rugged or athletic would have been a better term.

            And whether or not the ’14 MDX is much larger than its predecessor, it appears to make smart use of what interior space it does have. Note the way that they’ve elongated the rear doors to make ingress and egress easier for the third-row passengers. Clearly Acura is targeting dedicated-third-row CUVs.

            What’s scary, though, is that the more I look at the new MDX, the less ugly it becomes. Chances are it will make my list of Favorite Five Practical Cars by the end of the summer, haha

  • avatar
    genuineleather

    My aunt leases a current-gen RX, and two things surprised me about it:

    -interior quality: totally mediocre. Little better than a Highlander or any other mid-spec Toyota. Far less than the leap from Camry to ES350.

    -interior space: it’s tight. You’d think a jacked up Camry with more headroom would feel spacious, but as the RX has gotten ever sleeker, the space advantage has diminished considerably. The ES feels far roomier.

    In short: save yourself $10k and buy an ES, all while keeping that “affluent housewife” vibe that’s so hot right now.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      My aunt has a Lexus RX330 and she and my uncle took all of an hour tour and test drive to dismiss the notion of ever replacing it with the RX350. As my uncle summed things up, their RX330 is so far superior to the RX350 in terms of ride, comfort, quality and materials/workmanship that the 350 doesn’t even feel like a Lexus.

      He drives a 2004 LS430 and came to the same conclusion and decision regarding his one time consideration of “upgrading” to the LS460 back in 2009. While not quite as severe a step back in actual quality and comfort as the RX350 is in contrast to its predecessor, he felt that the LS460 had noticeably worse ride quality, noise suppression and build quality (all things important to buyers of such class of vehicles) than his 430.

      I recently had a discussion with him about how much of a POS the new ES350 is vs the ES330 in these same attributes that he values.

      This truth directly ties into my thesis that we’ve entered a new Malaise Era. Consider all the Lexus, Acura, Lincoln, BMW models (whether designated the same or differently named successors), etc that are worse in so many ways than their predecessors.

      I honestly believe that many last gen models, if in new condition and placed side by side with their replacements on dealer lots and made available for comparison testing, would outsell their new selves easily, and probably at a price premium.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        “he felt that the LS460 had noticeably worse ride quality, noise suppression”

        I think much of that can be blamed on attempts to make the vehicles more sporty. James May often rails against the Nurburgring and what it has done to the concept of a quite, comfortable, smooth riding, car.

        • 0 avatar
          mike978

          Agreed, the obsession with the ring can have harmful effects.
          What also surprises me is that Lexus has a laser like focus on being a very refined and good riding car that was luxurious. They left sportiness to BMW. But now they are muddling their message and brand identity by adding F sport models. I can see it on the IS and GS since they can both aspire to be sport sedan. But the LS and RX really don`t fit in those categories and should have stayed as they were – epitomes of very refined, luxurious cars.

  • avatar
    ExPatBrit

    The original Lexus RX 300 was available as a Silversport edition for the 2001 model year. We have one.

    No wood trim , tighter suspension and mono-color.

    My daughter has this later version, not sure on the styling .

    It’s probably going to be very reliable.

  • avatar

    “driving the F-Sport back-to-back with a “regular” RX on broken pavement, there was a difference.”

    www truedelta.com/Lexus-RX/car-reviews-164

    “the Lexus RX 350 F Sport rides and handles so badly that the regular model would be preferable even if it cost the same.”

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    …0-60: 6.55 Seconds

    1/4 Mile: 15 Seconds @ 92 MPH…

    Right out of the GM play book, gear it for grumpf off the line but in reality, a bit gutless. I get its a CUV, but with a 0-60 in the mid 6′s the 1/4 should come in the high 14s and a trap closet to 98. Once it breaks over a certain gear, it must get a bit wheezy feeling. Not that the average Lexus buyers care.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      It’s a CUV. At higher speeds, aerodynamic drag becomes an issue and the RX has a large frontal area compared to the average sedan. Beyond that, the 15 second quarter mile time is dead average for a car with a mid 6 second 0 to 60 time. If this is the best gratuitous criticism you can conjure today, the RX must be amazing.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    With its SH-AWD and capable handling, as well as its substantially-larger size—actually, quite a bit larger than all of those vehicles you mentioned—I wouldn’t compare the current MDX to the RX. The (new) RDX seems closer to the Lexus bestseller…

  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    I like the normal nose better. This one looks like it’s got a cleft lip. The interior is rubbish, and uses a lot of the same bits as the generation before it. The carpeting in the back is not as nice as a Mercedes, either. This is a Venza for badge snobs!

  • avatar
    wmba

    “We like to think we had the first CUV,” Colbeck tells Ward’s. Subaru introduces an all-new, …” the 1998 Forester.

    Speaking of which, Alex, are you going to test some more mundane cars? We’ve had Lexuses for weeks interspersed with a couple high end Chryslers, and a couple Buicks and Beetle and a $40K Impala. You know, not much at a reasonable price. If I see much more on infotainment systems, it’ll be too soon for me.

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/tag/alex-l-dykes/

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      Sadly we get what we can and oddly enough that sometimes skews high in the price range. You can follow what we are driving by going to our Facebook page. We have an Accord next week, a Sorento, followed by a Civic as I recall and then back to some luxury cars for a while.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Are you due to get any Mazda’s as I notice in the past 6 months you haven`t reviewed any and I would appreciate your take on the new 6 as well as the recently up-powered CX5.

        • 0 avatar
          Alex L. Dykes

          We have a good relationship with Mazda but are having troubles getting the schedule nailed down. I’ll certainly add the 6 and CX5 to the top of our list.

  • avatar

    Alex,

    I love to read your reviews, one of my favorite parts is the video, but! it’s about time to somehow stabilize your cameras if it’s in the back of the car or on the windshield, I know it’s possible, driving with my very hard suspension Mazda3 hatch on NYC streets, I get much better results from my iPhone 5 sitting on the windshield with a simple suction cup.
    Thanks

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      GoPro cameras (used for those wide angle shots) are kind of a pain in the rump, the post-processing stabilization actually makes the shots worse. We’re still working on the problem.

  • avatar
    bd2

    Doing an F-sport version of the RX is like putting lipstick on a pig.

    The RX isn’t really comparable to the X3 and GLK aside from pricing since they are compact RWD-based CUVs while the RX is a midsize FWD based CUV.

    Size-wise, the RX is more comparable to the X5, but the X5 is in another category price-wise (as well as performance-wise).

    • 0 avatar
      Oodie

      +1.

      A “Sporty RX” is just too much of an oxymoron for this reader.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I have a running challenge with a friend to spot an X5 being driven by someone that’s paying attention to the road. It’s been going on for months.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      The RX seems to slot right between the X3 and the X5 size-wise. If Lexus were being smart about things, they’d put the GX on a capable, semi-rugged unibody platform, give it better styling and usable third-row seating, and pit it against the X5 and Q7.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        The RX is based on the mid-size Camry platform.

        Toyota just reduced interior room by giving the RX a sharply sloping hatch, which mitigates the increase in space in being a FWD based model.

        Nissan did the same thing with the RWD FX (which is as long as the X5).

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    And 10,000 upper management metrosexuals swooned in joy.

    Actually, the RX figured it out first and nailed it totally, although not for us folks who expect something fun to drive. 5 years ago my MIL was shopping and I campaigned heavily for the FX35 (that burble is….awesome), but she played safe and got the RX. Great car for her.

    1. I like the new Lexus grille.

    2. I’d rather have a totally loaded Highlander hybrid.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      “And 10,000 upper management metrosexuals swooned in joy.”

      Why on earth would a metrosexual buy something practical, durable, and of high quality when they can pay more for something ephemeral, trendy, and marketed to them with scalpel precision? Buying a Lexus is probably enough to escape the metrosexual label in and of itself.

      • 0 avatar
        onyxtape

        Very true. When I think of that particular demographic, the first car that pops into my mind is the A4/A5.

        RXs sell only to upper-middle-class housewives and female real estate agents.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          In San Diego, they sell to doctors of both genders. I don’t know why, considering it isn’t like they need to drive through much snow to make emergency house calls. Nonetheless, if someone told me they were a doctor and they were driving something else, I’d assume they had a PHD.

  • avatar
    azmtbkr81

    I’m not a big sports car guy but I certainly understand the appeal.

    Conversely even after an extended period of deep automotive meditation I fail to empathize with any of the desires that make a “sporty” CUV appealing to anyone.

    I feel like I am missing out on a hilarious inside joke.

    • 0 avatar
      CelticPete

      THis is for the guy who doesn’t see the appeal:

      The appeal of a sporty SUV is when done right they have seemingly unnatural performance. You just can’t believe how well they can go around a corner – and how quickly they can be safely driven. They are pretty much the ski vehicle that can handle deep snow and yet be enjoyable on the windy roads in Colorado or Utah.

      A big sporty SUV is like having your Cake at eating too..I’d say that the Dodge Challenger/7 series BMW kinda falls into this catergory. You hear alot about how big vehicles have gotten. But some of them are very capable even on the track if you can kinda get over the mental challenge of how much they weigh and learn to trust them..

      In reality of course most people will never track their X5M or Cayenne but some like the idea that they could. Its a weird niche but pretty american. Why make a great handling SUV that eats gas? Because they can..

      The problem with the RX is that it’s chassis and powertrain isn’t up to the snuff for that kind of performance. The Toyota engine was good 10 years ago and the platform isn’t really that stellar for an SUV..

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    For SUVs – if you must have them..

    I think Mazda and Jeep got the SUV market covered. I can’t imagine wanting something different then CX-5 and the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Those are my two favorites. I know in NYC where they used to sell a TON of RX350s suddenly they have a TON of 12, 13 and 14 Jeeps.

    Granted for most of those buyers they are essentially disposable cars -as that kind of money is pocket change for many NYC residents. But I think people have caught onto the idea that these are just not great vehicles.

    Jalopnik voted them the cars driven by the worst drivers. :P They really became popular with the wrong crowd. Its kind of interesting. Now nothing says “Mommy Mobile” like an RX350.

  • avatar
    Brock_Landers

    Wierd. In Europe RX’s main competitors are considered X5 and ML. Not X3 and GLK. Third row or not, but RX is the same exterior size with X5 and ML – and interior size for 5 occupants is also the same.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      In the US, comparisons are also done on price – which us why midsize FWD sedans like the ES, MKZ and TL are often grouped with compact RWD sedans like the 3 Series and C Class.

  • avatar
    ZCD2.7T

    I like the looks of the F-Sport version better, but I’m with other commentators who think that a sporty RX is an oxymoron.

    FWIW, after driving our MDX and my in-laws’ RX back to back, the only thing “better” about the RX is the wood trim in the interior. The MDX’s ride, handling, power, comfort, and even quiet are all better. Throw in the 3rd row seating, and to me it’s a slam dunk for the MDX, but whatta I know? Sales figures show that for more people the RX pushes more buttons.

  • avatar
    noxioux

    Please, will someone find, and kill the engineer/designer who started that whole thing where they move the floor shifter up onto the dash?

    And they can “F” the RX all they want, it’s still a soulless appliance.

  • avatar
    MBsam

    …and Alex’s rather obvious chip on his shoulder with Audi continues…

    This RX interior pales (which still sports switches and plastics that feel like they are from a Camry) in comparison to the one in the Q5′s 2013 update and this stuck-on spindle grill is grotesque and very obviously not part of the RX’s original design.

  • avatar
    300zx_guy

    My gripe with this gen of RX is that the interior doesn’t have enough of a premium look. Put a Toyota T where the the Lexus L is on the steering wheel, and who would doubt they were in a Toyota “Limited” model? That wasn’t true of the previous generations of RX.

    As for the nose job, it looks like the designers want to suggest a giant spindle grill shape by stretching a chromed outline from the upper grill opening down to the lower one, but it looks wrong to me, at least with the body color painted piece in between. Either black out the piece in between, or keep the chrome limited to the upper opening (like the CT hybrid).

  • avatar
    Power6

    The interior doesn’t look like the leather and wood lined Lexus cabins of yore. Perhaps the “F-sport” treatment of black leather and silver toned plastic is the culprit.

    Lexus is smart enough to know anyone buying the “F-sport” RX doesn’t actually want a sporty Lexus, just a trim change is good. Sort of like the old “Sport Design” models but the leather and wood interiors on those looked much better.


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