Experienced by Adrian McQueen
Photography by Adrenaline Lifestyles
The Lexus RX is known as a luxury crossover with flashy styling and comfort. I was excited to get time in the 2018 Lexus RX 350 so that I could see what the buzz is all about. The Lexus RX is a midsize five-seat crossover that is a step above the compact NX and right under the larger GX model. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is optional on the RX. The model sent for me to test was a full time active torque controlled All Wheel Drive model. With a full week of review time ahead of me, I knew that some good times were in store.
The Lexus RX luxury crossover SUV is based on the Toyota Highlander and has been sold since 1998 by Lexus, who is the luxury division of Toyota. The RX was released in Japan in late 1997 as the Toyota Harrier, export sales began in March 1998 as the Lexus RX. The RX name stands for Radiant Crossover but has also been labelled as “Recreation Cross Country” in some markets. The Lexus RX’s base 3.5-liter V-6 is shared with the Toyota Sienna and Highlander. The success of the Lexus RX is strong in the United States and has been the best-selling luxury SUV since its introduction into the market.
Lexus has a staple exterior design that starts with the spindle grille that is very prominent. This model arrived with a beautiful Nightfall Mica hue. The unique F SPORT exterior trim shows off styling features that include a more distinctive front bumper, F SPORT badging and signature upper and lower grille inserts. The RX 350 sits on to 20-inch F Sport aluminum super chrome alloy wheels. The chrome dual exhaust fit the sporty nature of the RX 350 quite nicely. The design is truly refreshing and eye-catching with a jet-inspired roofline.
The interior of the RX 350 is pure luxury. Let’s start off with the massive 12.3-inch high-resolution infotainment display that covers a large portion of the dash. You can use the joystick like a mouse to work the controls as well as the touchpad that accepts swipe and zoom gestures. There is also an In-dash navigation, Mark Levinson 15-speaker premium sound system with software that adds density to music files to make them sound better. Lexus offers AM/FM/XM/HD/CD unit with USB ports, and Bluetooth with audio streaming but still doesn’t offer Android Auto or Apple CarPlay in this vehicle. Apps like Yelp and iHeartRadio are offered.
The RX 350 has a great Interior design with a spacious and luxurious cabin. The RX seats five people and has exceptionally comfortable heated and ventilated, 10-way power adjustable F Sport seats, as well as relaxing rear seats. Cargo space is plentiful with the 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats. Lexus also has matte bamboo or gray tropical wood in the interior. The RX 350 also includes a panoramic sunroof and a head-up display. The F Sport package that adds an F Sport steering wheel, F Sport gauges, and paddle shifters. There is also keyless entry/start, leatherette upholstery, dual-zone climate control and a power lift gate.
Driving the 2018 Lexus RX 350 is a pleasurable experience. The 2018 Lexus RX comes with the 3.5-liter V-6 with 295 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission. It is All Wheel Drive too, so that brings a sense of comfort for the winter time. Lexus gives the RX 350 a smooth powertrain and compliant chassis which makes it quiet and comfortable. An F Sport bundle adopts adaptive suspension as well as remaps the steering. The RX 350 has a drive-mode selector that varies powertrain performance through Normal, Eco, and Sport modes. The F Sport version get additional Customized, Sport S, and Sport S+ modes.
Fuel Economy is pretty decent as the RX 350 checks in at 19 mpg in the city, 26 mpg on the highway and 22 mpg combined. Lexus offers an economy drive mode that cuts down on climate control and softens throttle response. The Lexus RX hybrid posts impressive gas mileage ratings, while the RX 350 is competitive in its class.
As far as safety is concerned, the NHTSA gave the 2018 Lexus RX a five-star safety rating. It earns good results in all tests and meets the IIHS’ new standards for advanced safety technology and headlight quality. It scored high on all crash tests. The 2018 RX come with the Lexus Safety System+ suite which includes automatic high beams, lane departure warning with steering assist, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, rear view camera, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and pedestrian detection. Blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert are available as well.
Key competitors to the Lexus RX 350 are the Acura MDX and RDX, Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class, Volvo XC90, Cadillac XT5, BMW X5, Nissan Murano and the Jeep Grand Cherokee. The RX continues to sit on the top of the mountain over its competitors in the midsize luxury crossover space. Sales have been on an upward climb since the 2016 redesign model year. The Lexus RX now spans a broader range from luxury to sport. Enjoy the photo gallery.