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2017 Lexus RX 350 Heels on Wheels Review

2017 Lexus RX350 (select to view enlarged photo)
2017 Lexus RX350

By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

Not too big and not too small – carmakers struggle over offering consumers the perfect crossover fit, and I believe the Lexus RX 350 has it supported by sharp styling and a luxurious approach to modern utility.

I drove a 2017 Lexus RX 350 with the standard 270-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine with Variable Valve Timing paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Available in one model, standard equipment includes: wood interior trim; dual-zone climate control; ten-way power front seats; leather upholstery; wood interior trim; heated and ventilated front seats; power tilt-and-telescopic steering column; steering wheel with mounted controls; a nine-speaker premium audio system; Bluetooth; SmartAccess passive entry system; a cargo area tonneau cover; a rearview camera with a seven-inch display; roof rails; and power tailgate. Total vehicle price without options comes to $43,020.

Having taken on a bold remodel just last model year, changes for 2017 involve folding in minor once-charged-now-standard features. The main rival to the Lexus RX 350 continues to be the Acura MDX, Infiniti FX37 and Volvo XC60.


Stylish But Comfortable Results: The RX 350 has always possessed a high-class look, both inside and out, with last year’s redesign bringing height and a reshaped roofline. The upgraded Mark Levinson audio system continues to be the best on the market. Luxurious interior aside, it’s the little things that really make this SUV such as the SmartAccess entry (no need for clicking the key fob – just walk up to the car to unlock the door). The RX 350 feels undone without all the extra options that can add up – my test drive featured well over $7k in add-ons like the F-SPORT package, the Marc Levinson audio system, triple-beam LED headlamps, safety technology and a moonroof. Cargo space is a weakness compared to others in its class with no third row option, and the Remote Touch to work the display screen feels awkward. The F Sport additions include a more aggressive grille and rear bumper along with more pronounced fenders and larger wheels

Reliability & Safety Factor: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the 2017 Lexus RX 350 ratings of “Good” in all categories and it is a Top Safety Pick. The 2017 Acura MDX has the same ratings. The Lexus RX 350 features as standard safety equipment a rearview camera, Lexus Enform Safety Connect, and an advanced airbag system. The suite of safety technology was $1,865 extra on my test drive.

Cost Issues: The 2017 Lexus RX350 starts at $43,020 with my test drive reaching $56,840. A base MDX starts at $43,950 with a recent fully loaded test drive at $56,400. Most competitors function the same way with their pricing spread. Consider stepping down to a fully loaded Nissan Pathfinder Platinum at $43,560.

Activity & Performance Ability: Commanding, sporty and an overall sheer delight to drive best describes the ride of the Lexus RX 350. Although I found the seats rather stiff upon first entering, they gave significant support. Cargo room is where performance takes a hit, as the RX 350 cannot offer what the MDX or Volvo XC 60 delivers. Performance headlines for the Volvo are their four-cylinder engines that are on par with many V6 powertrains in terms of swiftness and strength.

The Green Concern: EPA-estimated fuel economy results are 20-city and 27-highway for a combined 23 miles-per-gallon with the front-wheel drive. The Volvo XC60’s supercharged 302-horsepower 2-liter turbo four-cylinder engine and eight-speed automatic transmission plus all-wheel drive delivers 22 miles-per-gallon combined – something to definitely consider.

While you certainly will find nothing to quibble about with the 2017 Lexus RX 350 – it has loads of luxury and performance – a competitor like the Volvo XC60 offers more cargo space and a very nimble supercharged four-cylinder that gets 22 miles-per-gallon with all-wheel drive.

©2016 Katrina Ramser


When testing this vehicle, I found it difficult if not impossible to get into and out head does not clear the door frame without an acute bendover and I mean acute.
So a word of caution, when you test drive this vehicle make sure to bring along your regular passengers and all drivers, by the way my wife owns a 2010 RX 450h and it is easy to get into and out of... when I asked a Lexus representative why the negative change I was told that “you are not the demo for this vehicle”, too old and arthritis riddled I guess...
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