First Drive: 2015 Lexus RX350 AWD
Not long ago, Lexus was one of the first brands on the market to offer up a premium luxury filled crossover for those that needed something flashy while having the ability to drive up to valet booth near the ski lodge. Nearly 15 years in, Lexus continues its RX heritage offering all-wheel drive capability while keeping its passengers nestled, cozy in sumptuous luxury details.
The RX was first introduced to the market in 2003 being one of the first of its kind, now for 2015 the RX is competing up against some major German rivals and one from its own home turf, the Acura MDX. In 2012, the RX received a facelift over its 2008 generation giving a sleeker attitude by fitting the infamous spindle grille and LED daytime running lights. Being marked as a 2015 model, our sampled Agrate Fire Pearl RX350 still looks just as good as it did in 2012. Optioning for the $700 19” alloy wheels as on our tester gives the RX a good stance and fills the wheel wells quite nicely.
Considering we’re located in the desert where it almost never snows, it seems only fitting that our RX350 arrived with All-Wheel Drive. Heck, you never know, that four-wheel drive may come in handy during our next haboob when the roads turn to dust. Jokes aside, the RX uses Lexus’ traditional 3.5-liter V-6 good for 270 horsepower. Connect to six speed automatic transmission and our All-Wheel Drive platform the RX350 can show its driver a good time from zero to 60 in 7.7 seconds, which is still pretty good when you might be found hauling ballet slippers and drinking a Starbucks.
Surprisingly for the RX350’s weight of 4,200lbs, power to weight ratio is quite good. Acceleration is fairly decent and the 3.5L emits a respectable grunt. At hard acceleration, you can tell the RX uses an old generation gearbox; the shift points are rough, has a hard time finding the right gear at lower speeds, and shifts at 5,000 rpms even though it can rev to 6,300 . However, considering the type of consumer that is interested in the RX, we doubt there will be much racing between soccer practice and ballet class.
Due to the current generation of premium crossovers, the RX starts to fall to the middle of the pack in terms of drivability. Handling is not too shabby for being a crossover – it’s responsive but lacks driver feel – perhaps that something found more in the F SPORT trim. Body roll is going to be noticeable given the soft suspension and the brakes will do the job, but only just.
There is no doubt to the Lexus brand that everything about it is going to provide its driver with the utmost comfortable driving experience. The suspension is quite smooth eating the rough patches of life’s unexpected hiccups. For an SUV the cabin noise is kept low from any wind or road distractions. Lexus even included a Comfort Package on our tester that optioned up Xenon HID Headlamps, LED Fog lamps, Rain-sensing Wipers, and Heated & Ventilated Front Seats. Add in our black leather interior with power adjustable front seats, we were cocooned with supreme comfort – off course that Comfort Package would set you back $1,390.
After its redesign in 2012, the RX was a sign of where Lexus was heading in terms of interior styling, giving a more modern look and using higher quality materials. This contemporary style allows for a driver friendly cockpit giving an ease of access to all the necessary features. The RX can’t be a premium crossover without its $2,760 Premium Package which offers Blind Spot Monitoring, Leather Interior, Power Sunroof, Power Folding – Auto Diming – Heated Mirrors, Driver Side 3-Way Memory Seat, and Roof Rails. We also can’t forget our tester featured a Wood & Leather Package offering dark wood trim throughout and a Leather Trimmed Steering Wheel and Shift Knob for $330.
In this modern era, where technology grows so rapidly, it says a lot when we’re able to identify three year old technology. The technology used in this 2015 RX is starting to show its age. Our sampled RX arrived with a rather pricy Navigation and Dual Screen Rear Entertainment Package: $4,060 and $1,200 Heads Up Display – now that’s a lot for those two packages. And when you start to look at what you get, it’s not all that great. Save your money on the heads up display, the quality is subpar and looks like an old Atari video game. On the Nav Package you do get Lexus Navigation and Lexus Enform – which we like – but because of the RX’s overdue technology update, the screen has a low resolution output and the mouse pad interface has a few hiccups. We are even disappointed in the back-up camera which shows no lane guidance and is fairly grainy – not what we’d expect from something that costs over 55-grand. On the plus side, there are the rear seat entertainment screens to keep the kiddos happy; however, it’s not an individual set up – which means, an old fashion sibling rivalry ensues over what to watch.
There were a number of things we didn’t like about the RX, which is strange considering we are huge Lexus fans. We kept bumping our leg into the emergency brake which has us concern about frontal crash impact. The rear seats weren’t very comfortable providing no leg support and were a little too close to the floor. And while rear cargo looks decent, we had to remove the cargo cover just fit a small boxy items.
As an SUV, the RX and its All-Wheel Drive does fairly decent when it comes to fuel figures. The EPA rates the RX at 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway. Lexus was a little ambitious with those figures as we barely averaged 17 mpg in the city and just barely hovered over 20 mpg highway. In return we were able to get a fairly decent range of 330 miles on just regular grade fuel.
With most Lexus’ products, we are usually stunned with the end results of our experience. Perhaps this time we went in with too many expectations and came out looking disappointed. The fact of the matter is the RX350 is not a full disappointment. The consumer would not be disappointed with the overall end result – the RX350 drives very well, having sufficient power and as long as you’re the driver or a front passenger, you can take advantage of the comfortable features. We’re just not so sure the $55,099 price tag on our sampled RX350 is quite worth it.
|Price (As Tested):|
|2015 Lexus RX350:||$42,195|
|Wood & Leather Trimmed Steering Wheel & Shift Knob:||$330|
|Intuitive Parking Assist:||$500|
|19″ Aluminum Alloy Wheels with All-Season Tires:||$700|
|Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound:||$995|
|Heads Up Display (HUD)||$1,200|
|Premium Package with Blind Spot Monitor System:||$2,760|
|Dual-Screen Rear Seat Entertainment with Navigation:||$4,060|