Monday, August 14, 2017

IN THE DRIVEWAY: 2017 Lexus RX350 F Sport

This week I am in the best-selling vehicle from Lexus - the RX350 luxury SUV. Since it's introduction in 1998, the Lexus RX has been a top seller for the premium Toyota division. Good ride, excellent build quality, decent price – year after year Americans seem to fall for the RX like a fish to water. Now in the middle if it's fourth generation, the 2017 RX350 receives only minor changes, as Lexus keeps with the traditional “if it ain’t broke – don’t fix it” logic.

It's hard to trace the styling of the current RX350 back to its original model as today's RX350 has gained some muscle in an attempt to attract more male buyers. The current RX incorporates the Lexus "spindle" grille" as well as a floating roof design, both of which keep the design of the RX fresh and in line with the Lexus L-Finesse theme.

For 2017, more RXs will be equipped with the F Sport package as Lexus is now offering it with front-wheel drive models, instead of being available only on all-wheel drive models. Going with the F Sport package adds 20-inch wheels, a stiffer suspension, enhanced engine sound, paddle shifters, unique gauges, heated and ventilated sport seats, leather upholstery and unique interior trim. The F Sport package is still offered on all-wheel drive RXs.

Just as it has been since day one, the RX continues to be a five-passenger mid size luxury crossover vehicle. Those insisting on a third-row still need to look elsewhere. But if you demand fine luxury in an SUV, this is it - with acres of leather and fine trim placed throughout the cabin. If you do want to put the RX350 to work, there is about 18.4 cubic feet of cargo room behind the back seat. Fold the 40/20/40 split folding seatback down (or as down as it will go - it doesn't go completely flat) cargo space expands to about 56 cubic feet. That's on the small side in this class - seems there is a price to pay for the RX's floating roof styling.

As the name implies, the RX350 is powered by a 3.5 liter V6. Making 295 hp this engine is hooked up to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard with all-wheel drive being an option. While other markets get a turbo four-cylinder option (with the RX being called the RX200t), that option is not available here.

When it comes to safety, the RX350 is hard to be beat. It comes standard with 10 airbags as well as the Lexus Safety System which includes a Pre-Collision with pedestrian detection. Also included in this system is a radar cruise control and a lane departure system.

On the road it should come as no surprise that the RX delivers a serene driving experience. The ride is a little stiffer with the F Sport package, but for the most part, it still delivers a very smooth and quiet drive – in that typical Lexus tradition.

For 20 years now, the Lexus RX has been a best-seller. And it’s easy to see why. Good  looks, safe, and equipped with a luxurious cabin along with the Lexus reputation of dependability and quality makes it hard to look past the RX350.

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