Luxurious vehicle with mild performance updates for the sport-minded.
Distracting Mouse-Type Interface
Less Cargo Capacity vs. Competition
The 2019 Lexus RX 350 F-Sport brings a whole new attitude to the luxury SUV segment. 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 that has changed.
The luxury division is getting more attitude. Lexus brought the F-Sport to the RX 350 lineup in 2013, and its eight-speed transmission and sport-tuned suspension are proof enough.
This week, we drove the 2019 Lexus RX 350 F-Sport with all-wheel drive.
What’s New For 2019
The 2019 Lexus RX 350 carries over pretty much unchanged from last year. However, the Lexus Enform Connect smartphone app is now compatible with the RX 350.
Features & Options: Convenience & Safety
The 2019 Lexus RX 350 F-Sport comes standard with automatic LED headlights (with automatic high beams), rear privacy glass, a power lift gate, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable front seats, and a power-adjustable steering wheel. The 40/20/40-split rear seat, rear cargo cover, rearview camera, and adaptive cruise control are also standard.
The subscription-based Safety Connect includes a stolen vehicle locator, emergency (sos) assistance, and automatic collision notification among other features. The Safety System+ package includes lane departure warning and intervention, as well as forward collision warning and mitigation with automatic emergency braking.
Bluetooth, an eight-inch display screen, smartphone-integrated navigation, and a nine-speaker sound system are among the infotainment features.
Features & Options: The More The Merrier
The F Sport is more athletic with 20-inch wheels, adaptive suspension dampers, and transmission paddle shifters. Inside, the F Sport gets heated and ventilated sport seats, leather upholstery, and unique interior trim. The navigation package ($3,225) adds navigation of course, but also the Remote Touch interface, a larger 12.3-inch display, voice controls, the Lexus Enform App Suite, and a 12-speaker sound system.
Other options on our RX 350 tester included blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and automatic braking, a panoramic-view backup camera, a panoramic sunroof, and a heads up display. The cold weather package and triple-beam LED leveling headlamps were nice touches.
Total MSRP including destination: $61,315. By comparison, the 2019 Lexus RX 350 F Sport starts at $49,220 with front-wheel drive; $50,620 with all-wheel drive.
The 2019 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 the RX 350 is loaded with it. To interface with the navigation system, or adjust audio or climate settings, you need to use the Remote Touch system. It’s essentially a computer mouse that sits on top of the console.
Granted, it replaces the need to touch the screen, 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 is easily loaded by releasing the seat backs 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 are comfortable for longer trips.
Finally, there are two rear air conditioning vents to keep passengers cool.
Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
The F-Sport is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 295 horsepower and 267 lb-ft. of torque. It comes mated with an eight-speed automatic sending power to all four wheels.
EPA fuel mileage estimates come in at 19/26 city/highway and 22 combined mpg. When it comes to fuel efficiency, the 2019 Lexus RX 350 F Sport is in line with most of the competition.
Driving Dynamics: Good In Cold Weather
Our tester came with all-wheel drive which helped us cope with winter weather this week. The 2019 Lexus RX 350 uses a lightweight, all-wheel drive system that operates through an electronic coupling on the rear differential, thus eliminating the need for a center differential. It worked well in the new snow that drifted over the continental divide earlier this week.
The F Sport delivers a more engaging driving experience for those wanting a more sporty ride. Its eight-speed transmission with paddle-shifters is designed with a bent toward performance. Given the F-Sport is powered by the same 3.5-liter V6 as the base model, it’s not a true sports SUV like some of the German models, but it’s more engaging than the standard model.
With its exterior treatments, the F-Sport package is more of a looker than a true performance vehicle.
It features 20-inch wheels with V-rated performance tires, firmer springs and shocks, and front and rear performance dampers for a firmer ride. But the bigger wheels, thinner tires, and tighter damping tend to compromise the ride quality and noise control that Lexus cars are known for.
Conclusion: Sport-Minded Comfort
The 2019 Lexus RX 350 F-Sport is still luxurious and 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.
Overall, it’s a luxurious vehicle with mild performance updates for the sport-minded.
Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy