The best selling Lexus in the lineup, the RX 350, is what I'm driving this week. Fully redesigned for the 2016 model year I have been looking forward to this test for a while. The interior upgrades are stunning but I have also been very curious how the new eight-speed transmission works with the 3.5L V6 engine. That engine hasn't changed much, but has always been great.
Not only is the RX the best selling Lexus model it is the best selling Luxury vehicle by a wide margin in America according to goodcarbadcar.com. With sales nearly double some very popular vehicles like the BMW 3-Series, that is pretty darn staggering if you ask me.
Starting at just over $53,000 the RX 350 is priced reasonably well in its base form, but the price does creep up quickly when you opt for one of the four packages Lexus offers. If you opt for the loaded Executive Package that my tester has, you are bumping the price of your RX up by the amount of a sub-compact car at over $14,000!
There are some new features in my tester that are firsts for me. The heated and ventilated (cooled) seats with an "auto" button for both passenger and driver come to mind as being a first -- at least that I have seen. Although I know that some Chrysler products enabled the seat heaters when it is cold, I've never seen fully automatic heated and cooled seats.
The rest of the features are what you would expect at this price level these days. Navigation, cameras everywhere (front, rear and sideview), auto climate, radar cruise, lane departure warning, blind spot detection, collision avoidance and a fabulous 12.3 inch Multi-Vision display.
When you open the door for the first time and take a peek at the inside of the new 2016 Lexus RX 350 there is no mistaking that Lexus has upped their game on interior design. The black leather with white stitching and dark wood accents are unmistakably the sign of luxury and opulence.
When you then step into the vehicle and settle into the driver's seat and feel the materials and quality of the fit and finish it becomes even more obvious. There is a reason the RX 350 has been a number one seller and I don't think that's going to change much with this generation.
The 12.3-inch screen is perfectly placed and wonderfully clear. Controlling it though takes a little getting use to. On bumpy roads I have found the control to be jumpy and annoying, but I'm slowly getting accustomed. The mouse style control is sensitive, you try to move it one position over, you hit a bump and it zips over, four places instead. I think I prefer the old style mouse control that Lexus had, but the more I use it the more I adapt.
The centre console boasts an interesting design with space for cup holders, storage, Qi charger, front seat, heat and cooling settings and shift lever with plenty of space available. Move towards the back and you are presented with a 40/20/40 split rear seating area with large armrest area. Lexus has decided to make the seats fold down for cargo via a motorized tilt function. It takes awhile for the seats to fold down for cargo duty and doubly forever to get them back up straight, but they are hands free, just hit the button (in the trunk or on the side of the seats) and wait - and wait, and wait.
The rear seats also slide forward and aft for further cargo space or extra leg room. Rear leg room is excellent with the seat all the way back and even not that bad with the seat all the way forward. The back of the rear seats also recline for more comfort and they are heated.
A power rear liftgate and plenty of cargo space round out the RX 350. The included tonneau cover blocks your cargo from prying eyes, although it doesn't extend completely to the back of the rear seat.
Whether you think the RX 350 is overstyled is up to you but there isn't much debate that can be had about how it drives. Arguably the main competitor to the RX 350 in Canada is the Acura MDX. The Acura has a price advantage and a size advantage with a third row but many compare these two vehicles quite often.
When comparing the ride of MDX to the RX 350 the differences are immediately obvious. While the MDX has a "sporty" or rougher ride the RX is soft and more luxurious and compliant. The RX 350 isn't by any means mushy, nor does it drive like a wet noodle, but the ride is very soft and compliant something that makes sense in this type of vehicle.
The 3.5L V6 engine is buttery smooth and matted to the new eight-speed automatic transmission makes a drivetrain that is one of the smoothest in the industry. The engine delivers 268 lb-ft of torque and 295 hp, the drivetrain really delivers effortless acceleration.
On the highway or in the city, windows up, A/C on the RX 350 cruises in near silence. No wind noise, very little road noise and no suspension noise make for a serene drive. At 100 km/h you cruise at just over 1,500 rpm and there is still plenty of power to speed up without having the transmission drop any gears.
The radar cruise control in this Lexus is much improved over previous ones I have driven as well. It "anticipates" and keeps its distance, but does not accelerate quickly towards slower vehicles to close the gap, then proceed to slam on the brakes like some systems do. It will warn you with multiple beeps when you drop below 40 km/h though.
Despite the narrow greenhouse in the RX visibility all around seems excellent. The mirrors are large, cameras all around help when parking and finding the ends of the vehicle in parking seems intuitive. I did notice the turning radius to be a little wider than expected the first time i pulled into a parking spot, but nothing out of the ordinary for an all-wheel drive vehicle.
Some may call me a Lexus fanboy as a result of my comments, but this new RX 350 is near-perfect in this category. The styling seems to be polarizing on our forums but in the real world I have heard nothing but good things from everyone that sees the vehicle, including myself.
The drive is ultra comfortable and serene while still engaging enough for an SUV. Cargo space is reasonable for the size of the vehicle and passenger space is fantastic (if you don't need more than five seats).
Fuel mileage was pretty darn good for the week. I averaged 10.3 L/100km -- the tank was nearing empty and only took 50L of fuel though. The gas tank is 72L so the tank is large enough, I believe the gauge is a little on the conservative side -- which I have found to be consistent with other Lexus vehicles.
The previous generation RX 350 was a good vehicle but this new generation is leaps and bounds better. And I think that statement says it all.
Model: 2016 Lexus RX 350
Options: Executive Package -- $14,050
A/C Tax: $100
Price as Tested: $71,050