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2019 Lexus RX 350 FWD Review by David Colman - It's E15 Approved


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2019 Lexus RX 350

An exceptionally comfortable, stout performer

By David Colman
Special Correspondent to The Auto Channel


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2019 Lexus RX 350
The SUV version of the Lexus RS 350 sedan transitions to 2019 largely unchanged from last year. Like its sedan counterpart, the RX 350 is not only good value for the money, but luxuriously satisfying to drive. Instead of supplying an anemic turbocharged 4 cylinder motor (the norm in many mid-size SUVs these days), Lexus resolutely refuses to follow the downsizing script. Under the prominent hood of the bulbous Lexus, you'll discover a sizable (3.5 liter) V6 enhanced with all the latest tuning tricks (DOHC, 24 valves, variable valve timing). The configuration of this 2GR-FKS powerplant, with its large bore (94mm) and comparatively small stroke (83mm) puts a premium on high rpm output. To extract that 295hp boot, Lexus has provided a slick shifting 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. For maximum acceleration, you'll want to play those paddles like a musical instrument, running the potent V6 through its performance range in each gear.

Lexus assists your sport pursuit by offering the RX with a no-extra-charge F Sport package of goodies that includes a well engineered, adaptive variable suspension system, anchored to the pavement by premium wheels and tires. At the flick of a dial, the system dials back or optimizes performance of the RX based on your needs and moods. The driving mode dial, prominently located on the center console, adjusts suspension stiffness, steering feedback and shift alacrity according to three distinctly different programs: Normal mode, Eco-drive mode and Sport mode. The F Sport suite of equipment includes 20 x 8 inch alloy rims tabbed "Aluminum Super Chrome Alloy Wheels" according to the window sticker. These pleasingly subdued gun metal gray rims carry excellent Bridgestone Ecopia H/L 422 Plus, all weather tires measuring 235/55R20 at each corner. Despite the substantial weight (4,435lbs.) and height (68in.) of this SUV, and the hard treadwear rating of the Ecopia tires (TW 600), the RX behaves with surprising agility when pressed hard in Sport mode.

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2019 Lexus RX 350
Inside the cabin, Lexus has done a commendable job of making a $60,000 SUV look like a $70,000 product. Before I check the window sticker, I like to guess what the tariff is for a given vehicle. In the case of this F Sport, with its stunning red "exclusive leather interior trim, aluminum pedals, shift knob and meters" my estimate proved to be ten grand more than you'll actually pay for this Lexus. To put it mildly, the red interior of the RX is show car worthy. Not only that, but exceptionally comfortable as well. The front seats include standard heating and ventilation, augmented by a heated steering wheel. The rear seat, which is compliant and spacious, folds flat in a 60/40 split that allows you to convert the interior to 30 cubic feet of storage space.

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2019 Lexus RX 350
Our test RX, with a base price of $49,220, included some rather pricey options. $1,865 went for a blind spot monitor, intuitive parking assist, auto dimming, folding rear view mirrors and a panoramic view monitor. Triple beam LED headlights and cornering lamps tacked on $1,615. A Panorama moonroof cost $1,850, and $3,225 went for the 12.3 inch navigation system with Mark Levinson 15 speaker premium audio. Our test RX also included an extra $600 for a color head up monitor projected on the windshield, and a $200 charge for a "Touch Free Power Rear Door." This last feature proved initially problematic when the door refused to open more than a few inches when either the dash button, the remote button or the button on the door were activated.

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2019 Lexus RX 350
To get the door to open wider required a mighty physical heave - not exactly "touch free" as advertised. So I looked up the door operation in the Owner's Manual and discovered no fewer than 9 pages devoted to rear door operation! About halfway through this virtual encyclopedia (726 pages in all), I discovered that by depressing the button on the hatch lid for 7 seconds and listening to two beeps, the rear door would then open to its full arc with a push on the remote button. How it got locked into its mail slot position remains a mystery.

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2019 Lexus RX 350
What's not mysterious at all is the fact that the latest RX 350 is a stout performer thanks to its inspired V6 and 8 cog gearbox. At its base price, the RX constitutes a best buy, since that base includes all the F Sport goodies. If you can do without some of the pricey extras, the RX 350 is quite a find for the money.

2019 LEXUS RX 350 FWD

    ENGINE: 3.5 liter V6, DOHC, 24 Valves, Variable Valve Timing
    HORSEPOWER: 295hp
    TORQUE: 268lb.-ft.
    FUEL CONSUMPTION: 20MPG City/27MPG Highway
    PRICE AS TESTED: $59,600

HYPES: Spectacular Interior Treatment, Strong Drivetrain

GRIPES: Lexus Display System (Mouse) Hard to Figure Out

STAR RATING: 8.5 Stars out of 10