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Full Review of the 2016 Lexus RX350

Car Reviews

Full Review of the 2016 Lexus RX350

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The Lexus RX is a big hit for Lexus and has all but redefined the luxury crossover market. The first generation was brought to the U.S. market in 1997. Throughout this time, it has gone through only minor changes. So minor that this 2016 model is only the 4th generation of a vehicle that’s been around almost 20-years. Almost exactly a year ago, I drove the last iteration of the last generation RX. That vehicle really showed its age in its design, interior, and technology. Although Lexus tried to keep it relevant with a few minor changes here and there, it was time for a big update – especially with the all-new NX crossover nipping at its heals.

This 4th generation takes a bold leap away from the basic crossover it used to be. While I think this is exactly what it needed, you could make the argument if it’s not broken then don’t try and fix it. So does Lexus have a hit on its hands or did they mess up a working formula?

Exterior Design:

The exterior of the new RX falls directly in line with the design direction of all Lexus’ products of late. The new NX, RC, IS, and so on have all adopted this look of the large spindle grille and slim LED headlights. This is a bold and sporty design that I quite like but can be more polarizing than what Lexus has traditionally been known for. You can even get more aggressive with custom elements on the F Sport packages.

From the side view, the RX has that in motion look with bold lines pulled back into a noticeable wedge shape reinforcing the athletic stance. The rear window has the illusion of wrapping all the way around to the back windshield with a new, unique design characteristic. Around the back, you get squished LED taillights with dual, chromed exhaust tips rounding off the sporty design. Overall I really like Lexus’ design and I think they incorporated it incredibly well in the new RX package.

Interior Design:

Another area of major focus is the interior. And being a Lexus, this always has to be top notch. Everywhere your eyes or hands land, it’s great looking and feeling materials. The exterior makes this crossover look smaller and more agile. But the interior does a great job at making the vehicle feel more spacious and comfortable. There’s a plethora of technology and buttons throughout the cabin. But it all works well together and makes for a more modern feel, especially over the previous generations. Sitting predominately on top of the dash is a massive 12.3-inch high-resolution monitor that can be split into multiple, useful screens.

One of the coolest design features inside the RX is the center console. While being big, wide, and full of tech and 2 cup holders you also get a seamless, curved piece of wood that matches the bottom half to the top. It’s hard to describe in words just how cool looking this is. But it’s a great design feature and just goes to show how every little detail was thought about and well designed.

Technology:

I’m not sure how many times I can write the phrase “packed with technology” in one review but this vehicle is one that deserves at least a few references. For starters, you get Lexus’ Enform app suite that offers access to mobile apps and information streamed from your smartphone. Our review car was equipped with the optional Mark Levinson sound system that definitely blows the doors off most in-car setups. Much like the other new Lexus vehicles we’ve driven recently the new RX has what Lexus calls Remote Touch. This is the joystick-like knob for interfacing with the infotainment center. I’ve struggled with using it before but I’ve gotten used to the nuances and have found it pretty easy to navigate now. The gauge cluster shows a ton of information and its design was inspired by the LFA giving it that cool electronic look and allowing you to customize what you want to see. You also get a color heads-up display so you take your eyes off the road as little as possible. You also get one of my new favorite pieces of tech in large vehicles these days which is a 360-degree camera view of the car to make sure that you’re parked perfectly in the lines or to make sure you aren’t about to hit the idiot that parked too close to you.

There’s a lot more tech packed into this car. But there is one piece of tech in particular that left me wanting something much better. I have the same gripe for all Lexus vehicles so this isn’t specific to the new RX but they really have a problem with their voice command system. I know these are incredibly complicated system and I’m sure, expensive to implement but I would love to see a better system for interfacing with the tech packed into Lexus vehicles. Basically, get used to all the buttons and the remote touch as you’ll be using them as much as possible and avoid using voice commands.

The Specs:

Your engine options consist of either a 3.5-liter V6 or a 3.5-liter V6 with an electric motor attached for good measure. The later setup is found in the RX 450h which is your hybrid option for the RX. On a side note, if you want a hybrid but still like the F Sport you can now have an RX 450h F Sport. Our test vehicle was an RX 350. It was equipped with the 295-horsepower naturally aspirated V6. Both engine options are matched up to an 8-speed automatic transmission. EPA estimates for the non-hybrid are 20-mpg city and 28-mpg highway and for the hybrid powertrain, those are bumped up to a 31-mpg city and 30-mpg highway. During my week driving the RX, I was averaging just around 20-mpg.

Wrapping it up:

So it’s pretty obvious I had a great week with the new RX and if you went back to read my review of the previous generation RX you wouldn’t find the same sentiment. I think Lexus did exactly what they needed to with the RX. Mainly bringing it into this century. During my time with it, I used it as my daily driver going back and forth to the office, I used it for a short road-trip, and I used it for a family hauler and grocery getter. In every case, the RX flattered. When it comes down to the price, the RX isn’t as bad as you might think either. You can pick up a base RX, still packed with a bunch of luxury and a ton of technology, for just under $42k. Our tester, as spec’d out as it was, still came in just over $52k and that’s really not bad for all you’re getting.

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Adam Moore

Adam was one of the founding members of txGarage back in 2007 when he worked for a Suzuki dealership in Dallas, TX. He is now our Publisher and Editor-in-Chief. He's always been into cars and trucks and has extensive knowledge on both. Check Adam out on twitter @adamaoc.

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