2013 Lexus RX 350 Review
By John Heilig



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2013 Lexus RX 350


THE AUTO PAGE
By JOHN HEILIG

But First The Bottom Line: The Lexus RX may be credited with creating the luxury crossover segment 10 years ago, and with the new RX350, the company is determined to maintain its leading position. The RX gives you everything you would expect in a luxury crossover; cargo capacity, luxurious interior, good styling and decent performance.

SPECIFICATIONS

Model: 2013 Lexus RX 350
Engine: 3.5-liter DOHC V6
Horsepower/Torque: 270 hp @ 6,200 rpm/248 lb.-ft. @ 4,700 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 107.9 in.
Length/Width/Height: 187.8 x 74.2 x 66.3 in.
Tires: P235/55R19
Cargo volume: 40.0/80.3 cu. ft. (rear seats up/rear seats folded down)
Fuel economy: 18 mpg city/24 mpg highway/20.0 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 19.2 gal.
Curb weight: 4,510 lbs.
Sticker: $50,860 includes $875 delivery charge and $9,275 in options)

Ten years ago there was no such thing as a luxury crossover. Back then, the vehicles were called simply small SUVs. As a matter of fact, the Lexus RX350 is officially classified as a small SUV today, although luxury crossover seems a more applicable classification.

Whatever, the original RX and today's RX are the right prescription if you're looking for a crossover vehicle. Okay, crossovers are supposedly based on sedans, ,but I can't quite figure out which Lexus sedan is the basis for the RX. Today, a crossover, no matter who makes it, is most likely its own vehicle on its own platform.

Today's RX (you can recognize it by the Lexus trapezoidal grille, which wasn't being worn on previous versions) is luxurious with lots of goodies. It has to be luxurious with lots of goodies because it competes with the Ford Edge in size and performance, yet carries a heftier price tag.

You would expect excellent ride quality from a luxury anything, and the RX delivers that well. It is a comfortable vehicle on the Interstates as well as in suburban and urban streets. there's plenty of power from the 3.5-liter V6 (270 horsepower, 248 lb.-ft. of torque), that delivers the power to all four wheels through a -speed automatic transmission. An 8-speed is available in the F-Sport version, but why anyone would want a sport version of an SUV is beyond me.

The shifter is at the base of the center stack, almost on the dash, but not as extreme as in the Prius.

Visibility all around is very good and you don't get the claustrophic feeling you sometimes get when sitting in the back seat. There are also few blind spots.

The suspension is good and tends toward the soft side. The front suspension is MacPherson strut based, while the rear is a wishbone affair. there is some minor lean in corners, but that may also be influenced by the vehicle's aspect ratio. It does ride higher than a sports car, after all.

On the center console is a controller that acts like a computer mouse. You work it around to highlight the area you want on the navigation/audio screen and "click" the button with your thumb. It seems delicate to the touch at first, but once you get the hang of it, it's easy and fun to use.

The audio system itself is very good with multiple choices. We used the iPod primarily, and there's a USB connection in the console. There is also AM/FM and satellite radio, as well as CD for your musical tastes.

The front seats are comfortable with good side support. They're both heated and cooled, which is an advantage in changeable fall weather.

The rear seats are flat, but they also offer very good leg and knee room for passengers back there.

Cargo area storage is immense - 40 cubic feet with the rear seats in their upright and locked position and 80 cubic feet with the rear seats folded forward. This is the utility side of a sport ute - good carrying capacity. I must admit though that I wouldn't use the RX to take my yard clippings down to the recycling center.

Among the numerous features is an audible beep when you get too close to other cars when you're parking. As with many cars, the RX's rear mirrors tilt downward when you're in reverse. This helps locate curbs when you're parking. It does save those expensive rims.

All in all, the RX350 is a very nice luxury sport utility. It has a base price of $40,710, but with the menu of goodies such as the premium audio system, leather seats, navigation system with the Lexus Enform voice commands, the price escalates to the final bottom line.

2012 The Auto Page


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