This week we’ve had the pleasure of cruising around in Lexus’s tried and true RX. To be more specific we’re driving the 2015 RX 350, a vehicle that has been and remains one of the top selling crossover SUVs among premium-brands. Looking back 20-years with the first-generation RX, this vehicle nearly invented this segment bringing the utility of an SUV and the luxury of a high-end car. Quickly after its success other luxury brands jumped on the bandwagon and today it’s full of great competitors like the Acura RDX, Audi Q5, BMW X3, Cadillac SRX, and Infiniti QX50. Although it’s been 20-years this is still only the 3rd generation of the RX. It has still managed to stay relevant with small changes, updates, and tweaks here and there so let’s see how it stacks up to the competition in 2015.
Out of the five vehicles I listed above the Lexus doesn’t have the most stylized body out there but that may be part of its draw. For 2015 you get the standard Lexus spindle grille and sleek headlights with an LED swoosh baked in. It’s definitely more aggressive looking than in previous years as it’s slowly incorporating Lexus’ overall design language.
Even with these minor changes, looking at the new IS, GS, and the awesome NX this RX has definitely fell behind. Not for much longer as Lexus plans on showing off a fully redesigned RX soon.
Looking inside this vehicle you get pretty much what you would expect from a Lexus, or any luxury brand. You get comfortable – leather wrapped seats, wood on the steering wheel, wood and chrome trim thrown throughout, and lots of soft touch points where they should be. Again, it’s not the most luxurious or crazy design that you can get out there, it’s more middle of the road; not wanting to offend.
One thing that I found noteworthy includes the rear-seat entertainment system which the kids loved. Our test vehicle was equipped with dual-screens mounted behind the headrests and a DVD player up front. You can individualize each screen to split up the content and each comes with it’s own set of headphones.
Another noteworthy feature isn’t really anything new with Lexus products but still something I’m on the fence with. To control your infotainment center and navigation you get a little joystick/mouse like device to traverse the 7-inch screen. This system works well enough but I tend to lean toward some of the rotary knobs instead. Either way, the system is good and the radio is great.
It’s not just luxury but also advanced safety that makes this crossover so attractive to families. Among many other safety systems that surround it, the RX comes with an available Pre-Collision System that uses radars to apply the brakes for you if the car senses a threat.
Looking at the nameplate on the rear liftgate, this is an RX 350 which means we have a 3.5-liter V6 under the hood. This engine puts out 270-horsepower and 248-lbs.ft. of torque. It’s hooked up to a 6-speed automatic transmission which is electronically controlled with intelligence (ECT-i). This means you’re able to switch driving modes from Sport, Normal, or Snow modes. With this setup, you should be looking at 18-mpg city and 25-mpg highway.
Of course being a Lexus you can also get a hybrid under the hood. If you opt for a 450h badge you’ll get the same 3.5-liter gas engine under the hood but you’ll also get an electric engine paired up with that. This bumps your total horsepower number to 295 and now you’re looking at 32-mpg city and 28-mpg highway.
Either option you pick there’s no denying that this is one comfortable cruiser. No matter if you’re driving through busy downtown city streets, down a back country road, or even a road-trip down the highway – this vehicle is smooth and extremely comfortable. That being said, it won’t be impressing anyone with its dynamic driving as it’s a bit of a squish. That’s okay though considering the market it is in and who it’s targeting.
So who is this car for and what’s the real competition? For me, this is easily the woman’s SUV. It’s comfortable and practical in every way. If it was me picking an SUV from Lexus’ lineup I’d be looking at the sporty, new NX or the ultimate LX – knowing my budget the NX is more realistic.
Looking at the competition some of my favorite among this segment are the Acura RDX, Audi Q5, and you can’t leave out the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Again, if it was me, I’d be looking at the new NX 350 F-Sport – although it’s smaller it’s still a great crossover if you’re looking to go more sporty and aggressive. If you’re okay with the style and not looking for something so aggressive the RX really is a vehicle you can be happy with day to day.