In our test drive today, we were reminded why we have appreciated the the Lexus RX 350 crossover SUV for some time. It has become one of the perennial luxury crossovers to beat. The Lexus RX offers a level of mainstream refinement and style that few in its class do. And for 2013, it received all new styling and tech features that required us to take another look.
At first sight, you notice striking LED “L” blade driving lights and the company’s signature spindle grille which we suggest fits more naturally into the overall design than the 2012 model’s “ant-eater” look. It’s more aggressive at a glance, yet remains upscale it execution.
Inside the RX, the cabin is really where you start to feel what make Lexus what it is. The brand has become known for supple leather trims, shiny ultra gloss genuine wood trims, and switch gear that looks and feels the part of quality. The fashion sense runs consistently through every element of the interior design.
The console houses sweeps up into the dash with a large information screen as the centerpiece. As it is too far away for touch, a hand puck resides on the console to control all screen related controls. One of the best in the business, it has tactile feel and works through an easy to interpret menu that never frustrates.
For those looking for more traditional controls, the center stack also has hardware switch gear for radio, HVAC and other mainstream controls. Our RX had the optional Mark Levinson sound system which is top-of-the-line in all ways. The sound is expectedly phenomenal.
Our RX also had the optional head up display which projects your speed and a number of other bits of information onto the windshield just below your outward sight line. It’s a novelty indeed but at $1,200 as a stand alone option, seems a bit of overkill when you can look 2 degrees further down and obtain the same information at a glance.
Seating of course is so comfortable and coddling that you could live here. Rear seat passengers are never second class, as they too can adjust position and back angle for their chairs. Our RX had the heated and ventilated front seats which are more than welcome as summer is already creeping in here in Phoenix.
On the road, the RX continues to impress with a smoothness and refinement that is more sedan than SUV. Make no mistake, this is not an off-roader, but a crossover more at home in the mall parking lots where we live day to day, than the back roads of the Tonto National Forest where we test many SUV’s
Highway cruising is whisper quiet. The chassis numbs most everything out, down to the buzzing and vibration of the freeway grooves. While cloud smooth, roll stiffness in turns and and curves is impressive, braking is solid and predicable.
Our RX has the company’s venerable 3.5 liter DOHC V6 which appears in many Lexus cars as well as Toyota models. It’s 270 horsepower is sewing machine smooth delivered through its 6-speed automatic transmission. Power is more than adequate, and through the all-wheel drive system of our RX, never gave us torque steer under full steam.
The EPA rates the AWD version of the RX which we tested at 18 mpg city, 24 mpg highway, and 20 mpg combined. In our week of commute and mall hopping we achieved 21.6 mpg which is a little better than promised.
The RX 350 comes standard with most everything in the way of creature comforts you’d ever want starting at $39,660. Ours based at $41,060 with AWD and was optioned up moderately to $49,860. You can easily head to $55,000 if you really try however.
Overall the 2013 Lexus RX 350 is an honest crossover that makes no pretenses about its mission in life. It doesn’t try to be an off-road adventure with butch looks, nor does it over indulge in faux truck-like features like low-ratio crawl modes. Instead Lexus tames the truck and gives the mainstream luxury buyer a more utilitarian choice which threads the needle well.