Acura, Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Volvo… the Lexus RX 350 has several worthy competitors in the luxury midsize SUV and crossover category but still manages to stand out in this very tough crowd. In fact, it’s the best-selling popular luxury midsize SUV and best-selling luxury crossover in the U.S. for the year so far.
The RX has two rows of seating for five passengers. New for 2018 is the RX L trim which seats seven passengers in three rows. The RX is available in three trims: base, L (the three-row model) and F Sport. Starting prices range from $43,270 to $54,085. Front-wheel-drive is standard and all-wheel-drive is available. There’s also a hybrid model with starting prices from $45,895 to $54,555.
The Lexus RX is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 295 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque, paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. While the RX would not be described as particularly athletic, it does deliver on the Lexus expectation of a smooth, comfortable ride with plenty of power when you need it. The eight-speed shifts smoothly and quickly and always seems to find the right gear. The RX is easy to drive in heavy city traffic and really shines as a smooth cruiser on the freeway. Bumps and rough roads are barely noticeable. The cabin is about as quiet as a library.
Fuel efficiency is decent for the category. EPA mileage estimates for my tester are 20 mpg city and 27 mpg highway with a combined rating of 23. I got 21 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.
The interior has an elegant look and feel with top notch materials. Seats are comfortable and supportive. Even taller passengers enjoy good leg- and headroom in both rows of seating. The optional panorama moonroof in my tester gives the cabin an open and airy feel.
Standard features include proximity key entry, push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, 10-way power-adjustable front seats, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a rearview camera, eight-inch infotainment display, voice recognition, Bluetooth, HD Radio, satellite radio, two USB ports, sliding and reclining rear seats, automatic high beams and rain-sensing windshield wipers. Standard driver assistance technologies include adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, lane departure warning and lane keep assist.
Options include a surround-view camera, head-up display, panoramic glass moonroof, leather upholstery, sport seats, heated and ventilated front seats, heated and leather-trimmed steering wheel, heated, power-folding rear seats, 12-speaker stereo system, 15-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound system, 12.3-inch display screen, the Remote Touch infotainment controller, navigation, the Enform app suite, a 120-volt outlet, rear-seat DVD entertainment system, parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and automatic braking.
The infotainment is not the most user-friendly. It takes some time to learn how to use the mouse-like Remote Touch interface. It is very sensitive and I found it too distracting to use while driving. I always gripe that Android Auto and Apple CarPlay aren’t yet available in Toyota and Lexus models.
The RX 350 has 18.4 cubic feet of storage with both rows of seating in place and 56.3 cubes with the second row folded. This is less space than many rivals. The 40/20/40 split rear seatback doesn’t quite fold flat which can make it difficult to haul bulky items.
Super cushy ride you expect in a Lexus
Plenty of smooth power for most driving situations
Long list of standard features
Starting prices are lower than many competitors
This isn’t the SUV for a performance-oriented driver
Remote Touch interface too sensitive to use safely while driving.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto still not available in Lexus and Toyota models.
Competitors have more cargo space
My tester starts at $43,270. Blind Spot Monitor with Rear-cross Traffic Braking and Intuitive Park Assist is $1,065. Heated and ventilated front seats are $640. Luxury Package is $4,180 and includes leather-trim seats, power-folding electrochromic auto-dim heated outside mirrors, wood and leather heated steering wheel, 20-inch super Chromse Alloy wheels with color inserts, rear door sunshades, driver’s seat/steering/mirror memory, illuminated scuff plates, Sapele wood with Aluminum trim, and LED ambient illumination. The panorama moonroof and Aluminum roof rails are $1,850. The 12.3-inch navigation system, Mark Levinson 15-speaker Premium Audio Package, Lexus Enform Destinations, and Lexus Enform App Suite are $3,200. Delivery fee is $995 bringing the grand total to $55,200.
The Lexus RX doesn’t have the best performance or the fanciest interior among luxury midsize SUVs, nor is it as roomy. But it’s a good all-around choice in this very competitive class. Consumers agree–so far this year, the Lexus RX is the best-selling luxury crossover in the U.S.