Lexus redesigned the RX 350 in a way that looks as if the lines have been chiseled by a samurai’s sword. It exudes a new attitude that shouts contemporary. It easily runs away from the conservative models of the last generation.
And that’s just on the outside.
The inside also gets revamped with new styling and updated materials. Underneath it gets a few tweaks to make the drive more engaging too. This week, we test drove the sporty 2016 Lexus RX 350 F Sport.
What’s New For 2016?
The all-new 2016 Lexus RX features increased interior space, as well as a bolder, more modern look. It’s now close to five inches longer overall, which translates to a larger, more comfortable cabin.
Features & Options
The 2016 RX 350 F Sport ($49,125) comes standard with leather upholstery, rearview camera, nine-speaker audio, eight-inch screen, HD and satellite radio, CD player, Bluetooth, and full-time all-wheel drive.
The F Sport gets a special Adaptive Variable Suspension, dark-mesh grille, more aggressive lower spoiler, heated/ventilated leather-trimmed F Sport seats, perforated leather-wrapped steering wheel, paddle shifters, aluminum pedals, F Sport gauges, and dark-metallic, 20-inch alloy wheels.
Options on this tester included Blind Spot Monitor, Cold Weather package, Heads up display, Lexus safety, power rear door, Navigation, a Mark Levinson premium audio system, Intuitive parking, moonroof, and a heated steering wheel.
Total MSRP including destination: $57,375.
Stepping into the revamped cabin we were greeted with an attractive black and white contrasting color scheme. The light seats were surrounded by black leather accents on the doors and dash. Metal trim is featured on the dash, console, and door panels for an extra contemporary look. The cockpit of the F Sport is driver-focused and it comes with plenty of leather trim and quality materials throughout.
You can’t miss the large 12.3-inch screen in the middle of the two-tier dash.
The F Sport logo on the steering wheel and floor mats, along with aluminum gas and brake pedals differentiate this model from the rest. The F Sport seats are also deeply bolstered. We felt right at home in the cabin. We even used the cooled front seats on a warm spring day that finally arrived in Denver.
The back seat offers plenty of legroom and headroom for taller passengers. We could tell the extra inches make a big difference over the outgoing model. The soft leather rear seats are especially comfortable for longer rides as our passengers commented this week. Touch a button and the rear door opens to reveal 18.4 cubic feet of space with the seats up. You get 56.3 cubic feet with the seats folded flat.
Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
The 2016 Lexus RX 350 F Sport is powered by a 3.5-liter V6, developing 295 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. It comes mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel paddle shifters. It sends power to all four wheels by way of a full-time, Active Torque Control system.
EPA fuel-mileage estimates come in at 19/26 city/highway and 22 combined mpg with all-wheel drive.
Driving dynamics on the F Sport are amped up and more engaging for the driver. The newly-designed crossover offers greater communication with the road for a more energetic and fun driving experience, whether in the city or on mountain roads. Along with performance, the main goal of the RX 350 F Sport is to provide occupants with a comfortable ride and plenty of utility.
Visibility is improved, especially in the city, with the new thinner pillars and wider rear quarter windows.
On the open road at highway cruising speed, the cabin is quiet. The ride is smooth, even with the larger, 20-inch blackened aluminum sport wheels our tester had. The F Sport did send some engine noise inside, but it’s barely noticeable.
When we got out of town, we chucked the F Sport around some tight mountain curves. The sport-tuned suspension kept the crossover stable and flat.
With the V6 having more horsepower than the outgoing model and combined with all-wheel-drive, we felt safe, secure, and confident well beyond any average commute. The 2016 Lexus RX 350 F Sport features Normal, Eco, Sport S, and S+ transmission modes, which affect powertrain response and steering effort. You can select them based on your preferences.
We kept it in Sport S most of the week and it delivered a satisfying drive!
For those wanting a bit more driver engagement, the F Sport is a good crossover for driving enthusiasts. Along with ramping up the fun-to-drive meter, it still delivers the smooth, quiet, comfortable ride you would expect from a luxury vehicle. If you don’t mind the huge black grille up front, there’s lots of positive attributes that make the Lexus RX 350 a smart, practical, energizing choice for daily commutes.
*Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy
Video courtesy of OpenRoad Lexus Richmond, 5631 Parkwood Way, Richmond, BC V6V 2M6, Canada