Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: July 6, 2017
The Lexus RX is the automaker’s best selling vehicle. Surprised? Don’t be. The RX outsells the IS, ES, and even the smaller and more compact NX crossover by a huge margin. As of May 2017, the RX sold 3,669 units in Canada, while the NX sold 2,766, and the IS sold 1,242. Not that the RX is “cheap” either. The starting price for the V6-equipped RX 350 is $55,800, which is more expensive than the comparable Acura MDX ($53,890).
How does Lexus do it then? Simple. Reliability, power, and luxury. The RX offers all three of these automotive pillars in one cohesive package.
We could start with the looks but I’d hate to comment on it too much. Looks are subjective and Lexus’ recent adoption of lightning bolt styling mixed with a Predator-grill and floating roof are love it or hate it. I find the new styling attractive, though. The sharp and aggressive stance, especially in F Sport guise, belies its soft-riding chassis and rich interior.
The design looks better on the RX than it does on the smaller NX. Nevertheless, the Atomic Silver paint that adorns our tester is new for 2017, and the addition of standard Lexus Safety System+ is new as well, which includes pre-collision warning, automated emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure alert, lane-keeping assist, and automatic high beams.
What makes the RX incredibly attractive is that it feels more expensive than its price tag suggests. RX 350 models start at $55,800 and hike up to $69,250 for the F Sport Series 3 package, the latter of which comes with everything from a panoramic glass roof, head-up display, and adaptive air suspension. From there on, the only options to choose from are paint colours and dealer-installed items. Furthermore, all-wheel drive is standard on all models, appealing to Canadians wishing for any carefree commute in the winter. That means you’re getting a fully loaded winter-beater SUV for less than $70,000.
That’s slightly cheaper than the comparable BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE, and with similar options tacked on, these Germans bring their grand total MSRP to just south of the $100,000 border. Be that as it may, I’d argue that the RX 350 is more competitive against the Jaguar F-Pace and Cadillac XT5, as they also have similar dimensions, interior space, and focus on luxury amenities.
The interior is what persuades most buyers to sign on the dotted line. Fit and finish is at the top of its class and there’s not a panel gap in sight. Materials are soft and the layout is simple. It’s the little things that win buyers over, like the adjustable-depth cupholders so you can fit cups and mugs of any size without spillage, side door pockets that can swing outwards so you can grab and store larger items much easier, a huge head-up display which is bigger than most, heated and ventilated seats that automatically detect temperature and tune to the perfect setting, and power windows that slow down right before they close so the action is quieter and less intrusive to passengers.
The infotainment system could use some work, though. I don’t think I’ve ferried one customer that hadn’t lambasted about how difficult it was to change and store a simple radio station. That all comes down to the learning curve of the haptic-feedback joystick, which unfortunately does not feel natural under the fingertips. Most of the time we overshot the menu prompts, and don’t get me started on the navigation map, which requires more finesse than folding origami. The joystick is different from the mousepad found in other Lexus models like the IS and RC but nevertheless, both are just as frustrating as the other.
The venerable 3.5-litre V6 under the hood of the RX 350 has been around for ages, and for a reason. It’s smooth and linear approach to power delivery is exceptional and definitely has us missing a world without turbochargers. The RX 350’s 295-hp power output is more than enough for the city and suburban dweller. Most of the power lies in the middle of the band, meaning you’ll have to juice out the pedal to really get the RX going. But once the momentum builds, the RX is formidable on highway overtakes and on-ramp merges.
There is a hybrid available too in the form of the RX 450h ($70,250) but we’ve driven that, and found it lacks any sort of driver involvement. Everything the RX does well is there, but the drive is gone, making you feel like a surrogate controlling the vehicle via a Playstation controller. The brakes are springy, the powertrain is slow, and the steering is whack. Though the fuel savings are noteworthy, you’d have to be driving the RX 450h on many road trips to truly reap the benefits of electrification.
Overall, the RX 350’s driving experience isn’t very different from your run-of-the-mill Toyota, which isn’t a bad thing in the least. The formulaic composition of a smooth engine, easy steering, and church-silent quietness give the RX 350 the all-rounded appeal. Be that as it may, you don’t feel as attached to the road as a Jaguar F-Pace. The steering is numb, body roll is noticeable, and it doesn’t feel tight or taut around the bends. The adaptive dampers and active stabilizers that come with the F Sport packages are geared more towards providing a soothing and relaxed ride rather than a sporty one, which pretty much summarizes everything about this Lexus SUV, and something tells me that RX owners won’t mind one bit. For once, the numbers tell the whole story.
型号 Model: 2017 Lexus RX 350 F Sport 3
顏色 Paint Type: Atomic Silver
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $55,800
試車售價 Price as Tested: $69,250
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,790
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,890 / 1,895 / 1,720
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,990
引擎 Engine: 3.5-litre DOHC V6
最大馬力 Horsepower: 295 hp @ 6,300 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 267 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 8-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City/Highway/Combined ) L/100km: 12.2 / 8.9 / 10.7
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 12.7
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Michelin Premier LTX; 235/55R 20