HEELS ON WHEELS: 2013 LEXUS RX 350 REVIEW


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2013 Lexus RX 350


HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

INTRO TO THE LEXUS RX 350 VEHICLE
The Lexus RX 350 is a popular mid-size crossover targeted to busy moms who deserve a luxurious edge to functionality. Already noted for its smooth driving manners, Lexus ups the ante on sportier driving dynamics with an all-new F Sport package featuring unique badging, a sport-tuned suspension and an eight-speed automatic transmission.

I drove a 2013 Lexus RX 350 with the standard 270-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine with Variable Valve Timing in the more athletic F Sport trim, coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, all-wheel drive, a specially tuned suspension and nineteen-inch wheels. Standard equipment for this trim include: wood interior trim; dual-zone climate control; ten-way power front seats; leather upholstery; heated and ventilated front seats; moonroof; power tilt-and-telescopic steering column; unique F Sport steering wheel with mounted controls; Bluetooth; SmartAccess passive entry system; roof rails; and a cargo area tonneau cover. Additional options included a $500 blind spot monitor, a $995 upgraded fifteen-speaker Mark Levinson audio system, and a $2,775 comprehensive navigation system. Total vehicle price came to $51,329

The main rival to the Lexus RX 350 is the Acura MDX, but extends to other upscale utility vehicles like the Buick Enclave, Infiniti FX37 and Volvo XC90. They only justifiable citation for the RX 350 would be its lack of a pop-up third row.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: Revised styling for the F Sport trim includes a more aggressive grille and rear bumper. Front fenders are also more pronounced, pairing well with the larger wheels. Inside, the perforated black leather-trimmed seats and maple wood inlay trim call to your immediate attention with chrome pedals and a moonroof completing a truly high-class look. The center console layout is streamlined and contoured – designed with the driver in mind. The fifteen-speaker Mark Levinson audio system is one of the best on the market. In terms of practicality, the remote power liftgate, the SmartAccess entry (no need for clicking the key fob – just walk up to the car to unlock the door), a ten-way driver power seat, and roomy second row for child seats will be instant favorites.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recommends the 2013 Lexus RX 350 as a Top Safety Pick. With all-wheel drive, the vehicle earns an overall 5-Star rating with The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) – a slightly better rating than the Acura MDX.

Cost Issues: A base RX 350 starts at $39,660, with the all-new F Sport trim starting at $47,350 and the 450h Hybrid model starting at $46,310. Comparably priced to the Acura MDX, Lexus RX 350 models can be a couple thousand less.

Activity & Performance Ability: Test driving the RX 350 in the Tahoe National Forest mountain range, I found the F Sport trim’s new eight-speed automatic transmission to offer seamlessly smooth shifting during high-speed inclines and quick-braking descents, making this a convincing ride for families who want to feel lulled, not overly alert, by what winding, rugged roads might throw out. As a mother, there is plenty of cargo room to store all baby necessities and weekend luggage.

The Green Concern: EPA-estimated fuel economy results are 18-city and 26-highway for a combined 21 miles-per-gallon. To be fair, much of my elevated driving averaged a fuel economy of 19.5 miles-per-gallon.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
The 2013 Lexus RX 350 offers just the right touch of status, security and function, with the F Sport increasing performance options. More importantly, this crossover remains a step ahead its nemesis’s prices and fuel economy – at least until the direct-inject 3.5-liter V6 engine on the Acura MDX debuts and can prove to compete with RX350’s advantage

2013 Katrina Ramser

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