2017 Lexus RX 350: Luxury crossover makes advances in safety and adds hybrid and Sport models

By Mike Blake - Carlisle Events
Wednesday, March 8, 2017


The Lexus RX remains America’s best-selling luxury SUV, as it has since its launch in 1998. Using 350 and 450 as its designated line names, the 350 is outfitted with a 3.5-liter engine, typical of a 350 designation, but the 450h is also equipped with the 3.5 (along with a hybrid electric motor), as Lexus deviates from the alpha-numeric norm.

After introducing the all-new fourth-generation RX 350 and RX 450h Hybrid luxury utility vehicles for 2016, Lexus opens the RX model’s second season with such advancements as making the Lexus Safety System+ standard equipment. Introduced as an option for 2016, Lexus Safety System+ includes Pre-Collision System, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Intelligent High Beam and High-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control.

Also new for 2017 are rain-sensing wipers standard on RX 350 models; an auto-brake function added to the Intuitive Parking Assist and Rear Cross monitor system; a new F SPORT FWD Model added to the line-up and Atomic Silver added to the color palette.

While the Lexus RX has been marketed as a combination of SUV versatility and luxury sedan-like comfort, it also stands out in the segment with a dramatic mix of sculpted creases and elegant curves. The focal point of the front is the Lexus signature spindle grille, set off by a lavish chrome-plated border and standard Bi-LED headlights.

The available L-shaped premium LED headlights are accompanied by 18 individual LEDs that surround the headlights and act as turn signal indicators. The spindle theme repeats at the rear, where L-shaped LED taillights envelope the tailgate and wrap into the rear fenders. Capping off the design is a floating-roof effect created by sophisticated blacked-out C-pillars.

The 4387-lb. (for the AWD) RX 350 measures 192.5 inches long, 74.6 inches wide and 67.7 inches high on a 109.8-inch wheelbase. Ground clearance is 8.2 inches and maximum towing capacity is 3500 lbs.

The RX 350 is powered in either a full-time all-wheel drive (AWD), or front-engine, front-wheel drive (FWD), by a 3.5-liter V-6 aluminum block engine, matched to an 8-speed Automatic Electronically Controlled Transmission. The system delivers 295 hp and 267 lbs.-ft. of torque, and the transmission, with “intelligence”, accelerates car-like, but you perceive truck confidence, as you quickly and seamlessly hit speed without feeling as though you are going that fast -- so watch your speedometer. On the track, my test RX 350 dashed from zero to 60mph in 7.6 seconds (hand-timed) during a 16.0-second (hand-timed) quarter-mile – and at 80mph, within the luxurious and well-thought-out surroundings, it really felt as if I were going 60. The Lexus RX 350 is EPA rated at 19/26/22 for AWD, my test ride averaged 21.8mpg in mixed-use tests.

The RX’s electric power rack and pinion steering with electronic power assist is a bit vague, with a bit of understeer, and quick turns result in some top-wobble. But the ride is luxury-smooth, as the all-wheel-drive set-up and the MacPherson strut front suspension with coil springs and the rear double wishbone, flattened out most inconsistencies encountered on the road.

The cabin is packed with intuitive, indulgent and high-tech conveniences. Interior dimensions are generous at 39.4 inches up front and 39.1 in the rear; legroom is 44.1 inches in row one and 38.0 inches in row two; and shoulder room is 57.8 and 57.6. The cabin is packed with too many amenities to fully list, but they include: automatic dual-zone climate control; dust and pollen particle and deodorizing interior air filter; dual sliding sun visors; electrochromic rearview mirror with compass; power door locks with anti-lock out feature; power tilt-and-telescopic steering column; power windows with one-touch auto up/down feature; steering wheel audio controls; Lexus Display Audio with an 8-inch screen and nine speakers; backup monitor and Bluetooth® hands-free phone and automatic phonebook download capabilities.

Safety items are also plentiful and include side impact door beams, a supplemental restraint system consisting of dual-stage and dual-chamber driver’s and front passenger’s airbag, driver and front passenger knee airbags, front side airbags, rear side curtain airbags and front and rear seat-mounted airbags; a tire pressure monitor system with available tire inflation display function; active front headrests; vehicle theft-deterrent and engine immobilizer system.

The base 2017 Lexus RX 350 starts at $43,020 in front-wheel drive and $44,420 in all-wheel drive. The dynamic sport-tuned RX 350F Sport starts at $48,920 (FWD) and $50,320 (AWD). The 450h (gas-electric Hybrid) starts at $53,035 with the RX 450h F Sport basing at $56,495.

My all-wheel-drive test RX 350 in Eminent Pearl White with a Black Leather/Espresso Walnut trim interior added the $2770 Navigation/Mark Levinson Package with a 15-speaker Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound Audio System, Navigation System, 12.3-inch color multimedia display, Lexus Enform App Suite, in-dash DVD/CD player, remote touch and climate control smog sensor. The Premium Package, for $980, added a rear armrest storage compartment, rain-sensing wipers, leather interior trim, electrochromic outside mirrors, roof rails and the Lexus Memory System. A power moonroof added $1100, running boards were $639, Intuitive Parking Assist added $535, and a Touch-Free Power Open/Close rear door added $200. With delivery fees of $995 my test RX350 stickered at $51,619.

> Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.

Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.

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