Grati-F-ication: 2016 Lexus RX 350 F SPORT
One for the money, two for the show, our third time is an F SPORT, and it’s the way to go.
Recently having gone under the knife for a whole new makeover, the Lexus RX350 shocked the world with its cutting edge design and sculpted masculine lines. Since its launch, we’ve enjoyed the premium comforts of the RX350 in its simplicity. Our wallets stayed fat when we sampled the RX450h Hybrid that averaged 27 miles to the gallon. Now it’s time to open our demon-ish hearts and see if our beloved F SPORT badge works with this 4500lb machine.
There’s no doubt when our sampler arrived wearing a light Nebula Gray suit, its devilish good looks, gloss black mesh F SPORT grille and dark aluminum 20-inch wheels made it quite the show stopper. Tack on $2250 for the Lexus Safety System and the standard HID headlights get replaced with these eye-catching triple beam headlights. The Lexus Safety System also adds in Lane Departure Assist/Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control and Pre-Collison Warning.
Upgrading to the F SPORT doesn’t necessarily enhance its performance. It uses the same 295-horspower, 3.5-liter V-6 and 8-speed automatic transmission. It’s also no faster to 60 mph taking 7.7 seconds. However, from the moment we sat in the world’s most comfortable body hugging F SPORT seats, there was a sense something was different. The F SPORT badge is more than just a comfy interior and a thick sport steering wheel, it brings in a specially tuned suspension and performance dampers that improves the ride quality greatly. There’s an athletic demeanor from the stiffer suspension that brings about more awareness to the road. The F SPORT steering wheel, while still has a vague feel has a healthier dose of weight that provides a more linear, entertaining sensation.
Using the drive mode select knob to choose between SPORT, and SPORT + enhances the transmission and throttle mapping, not just the display on the LFA inspired TFT digital gauges. The paddle shifters here are somewhat more lively and smoothing runs through all 8 gears – except when it comes to downshifting… tends to be a little hesitant. Shifting the drive mode into SPORT + transforms the RX350 into something more energetic – the transmission becomes a little more aggressive and responsive and is that a growl we hear?
If there is anything Lexus nails every time, it’s there interior and comfort levels. Looking not quite like the exterior, the interior has a streamline flow in its design. Naturally everything is covered in soft touch materials, and this F SPORT adds an attractive aluminum trim throughout. The $3260 12.3-inch Navigation and Mark Levinson Audio is a bit on the expensive side when it comes to options, but well worth the expense considering the alternative of an 8-inch screen.
Starting at $49,125 the F SPORT comes handsomely equipped already with heated and ventilated front seats, memory driver seat, and Lexus Enform with SOS feature. Our sampler added a few options that, simply put, is a must need in this modern world of keeping up with Jones’. $500 for Blind Spot Monitoring, $600 for a colorful Heads-Up Display, $200 for Touch Free Power Lift Tailgate and $500 for Intuitive Park Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
Because the RX350 F SPORT is a more fun to drive than the standard RX350 and Hybrid, fuel economy was a little under the EPA averaging just 21 miles to the gallon and only achieving 320 miles of range on premium fuel. But if that’s the cost of enjoying ourselves, so be it.
The RX350 family has a little bit of something for everyone. There is even an RX450 Hybrid F SPORT for those that want their soy bean latte in anger management class. The RX350 F SPORT here may not be the sportiest crossover in the segment, but it sure can still make driving to the office a little more pleasurable.
|Lexus RX 350 F SPORT Base Price:||$49,125|
|As Tested (including Options & Destination):||$58,525|
|3.5-liter V-6 – 295-Horsepower, 8-Speed Automatic – 0-60MPH: ±7.7 seconds|
|EPA MPG: 19/26/22 (city/highway/combined) – SSB Average: 21 MPG’s – Fuel Range: 320 Miles|