The Lexus RX 350 F-Sport brings a whole new attitude to the luxury SUV. If you’re looking for an average SUV you will want to look elsewhere. But if you are looking something out of the ordinary and sporty, the F-Sport may be your vehicle. Lexus, the luxury division of Toyota has always been known for their cushy luxury automobiles, but in recent years, the luxury division is getting sportier.
Lexus brought the F-Sport to the RX 350 lineup in 2013, and this week we are testing a 2014 RX 350 F-Sport with all-wheel-drive. This 2014 F-Sport features an 8-speed transmission with paddle shifters and a sport-tuned suspension for quicker handling response.
What’s new for 2014?
For 2014, the Lexus RX 350 F-Sport carries over pretty much unchanged, but gets a few new upgrades, including a new 115-volt power outlet in the back, the addition of brake priming to the pre-collision warning system and the integration of the Siri Eyes Free feature for newer iPhone users.
This 2014 F-Sport AWD tester ($47,450) came with a Blind Spot Monitor ($500), MarK Levinson Premium Surround Sound ($995), Navigation w/ Backup camera ($2,775) and Intuitive Park Assist ($500). F-Sport features a sport-tuned suspension, 8-speed paddle-shift transmission, 19-inch Dark Graphite wheels fitted with 235/55R19 tires, special exterior styling elements, special interior trim and perforated leather upholstery. It also features black leather seats that are highlighted with white contrast stitching and pedals that are perforated aluminum.
Inside, the 2014 Lexus RX seats five and that may be a deterrent for those looking for a third row. The cockpit is as comfortable as any SUV on the market. But you better be tech-savvy because RX 350 comes loaded with technology. To interface with the navigation system, or adjust audio or climate settings, you need to use the Remote Touch system that is essentially a computer mouse that sits on top of the console. It replaces the need to touch the screen to use the navigation system, or adjust audio or climate settings. It is simple to use while driving, but it does take a bit of getting used to.
The rear seat can accommodate three adults and has a 40/20/40 fold-down split seat. Cargo can be easily loaded by releasing the seatbacks from behind eliminating the need to walk around to the side of the vehicle. The rear seats have a fold-down center console with a covered wood grain cup-holder and separate covered storage compartment. The rear seats have good legroom for average-size adults and comfortable for longer trips. There are two rear air conditioning vents to keep rear passengers cool.
Out on the road
All-wheel drive comes on the 2014 Lexus RX 350 F-Sport, which helped us cope with winter weather this week. The RX 350 uses a light-weight all-wheel-drive system that operates through an electronic coupling on the rear differential, eliminating the need for a center differential. It worked well in the new snow this week that drifted over the continental divide.
The F Sport delivers a more engaging driving experience for those wanting a more sporty ride. Its 8-speed transmission with paddle-shifters is designed for those with a bent toward performance. F-Sport is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 270 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. So it’s not a true sports SUV like some of the German models, but it’s more engaging than the standard model. With its dark wheels and exterior treatments, the F-Sport package is more of a looker than a true performance vehicle.
It features 19-inch wheels with V-rated performance tires, firmer springs and shocks, and front and rear performance dampers for a firmer performance ride. But the bigger wheels, thinner tires and tighter damping come with a price that tends to compromise the ride quality and noise control that Lexus cars are known for. The 8-speed transmission, does improve fuel-mileage slightly, to 18/26 mpg city/highway vs 18/24 mpg with the 6-speed automatic on the standard RX 350.
The 2014 Lexus RX 350 F-Sport is still quiet and luxuriously comfortable inside. It comes with a long list of safety features, and its loaded with electronic accessories for the tech-savvy buyer. The RX 350 is a good choice for people who don’t tow or need to move more than five people at a time. The RX 350 F-Sport is more fuel-efficient than many of its competitors. It offers all the luxury and some mild performance for the sport-minded.
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