With more curves and creases added, the new Lexus RX continues to dominate the midsize luxury SUV segment. It was never the fastest set of wheels out there but its whisper-quiet ride and posh interiors continue to win over consumers.
Wide cargo opening
The 2021 RX comes in two trims – Base and F Sport with the latter adding a $10,000 option package. For that you get an enlarged 12.3-inch navigation touchscreen (up from 8 inches), top of the line Mark Levinson 15-speaker audio system, panoramic view monitor with intuitive parking assist.
Also rear cross traffic braking, power moonroof, and Black Line side body graphics, 20-inch black wheels and Lexus designed Zero Halliburton Edge twin luggage set. The RX is also available in L series (stretched) with three row seating and a fuel efficient 450h hybrid.
Our test car for the week was the F Sport that looks meaner than it is. Offered in Grecian Water (blue) and black wheels, it looks the part of a sporty racer.
Gasoline versions are powered by a 3.5-liter V6 producing 295 ponies mated with a smooth-shifting eight speed automatic including paddle shifters. Front wheel drive is standard with all-wheel drive available.
Our tester reached 60 miles per hour from a dead stop in a respectable 7.1 seconds, average for this segment but slower than import rivals’ BMW X5 and AMG GLE 350, each costing thousands more. A closer rival is the newly redesigned Acura MDX.
After driving the new RX for a week, we found little to nit-pick. On the highway, the Lexus delivers a compliant ride that glides over most road imperfections. We observed little body roll in turning maneuvers. Steering feedback is improved over last year’s model thanks to new modifications.
For long distance driving, comfort and Lexus reliability the RX is hard to beat. Think of it as a boulevard cruiser with comfortable seating for four adults.
Cabin amenities are bountiful with posh leather treatment and high-grade materials used throughout. The soft and refined RX ride has become the standard bearer in the industry.
Eco, Sport and Sport Plus driving modes are available with appropriate changes to power train responsiveness, steering and climate control.
Lexus has raised the safety bar considerably by offering a comprehensive safety and pre-collision system as standard equipment. The suite includes adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitors, lane departure warning with steering assist, forward collision warning and mitigation with emergency braking, intelligent high beam headlamps and smartphone-integrated navigation.
With base pricing in the mid $40s to low $50s, there is probably no better set of wheels for the money and resale value than the Lexus RX 350.
You may want to consider the base RX 350 which includes the full safety suite, rain-sensing wipers, Smartphone integration, LED headlights and power adjustable front seats. Add the navigation upgrade for the larger screen and your new set of wheels becomes even more affordable.
What was reviewed:
2021 Lexus RX 350 F Sport
Engine: 3.5-liter V6; 295 hp
EPA rated mileage: 19 city, 26 highway, 22 combined.
Assembled: The RX 350 is assembled at Toyota Motor Manufacturing facilities in Canada and Japan. U.S./Canadian parts content, 45 percent. Major source of foreign parts, Japan, down 40 percent to 30 percent. Country of origin, engineer and transmission – U. S. and Japan.
Crash test ratings: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) named the RX a Top Safety Pick for 2021 and awarded the model its highest rating of “Good” in moderate and small overlap frontal collision, side impact, roof strength and whiplash protection from rear impact. The IIHS also awarded a “Superior” rating for the Lexus standard front crash safety system and second best “Advanced” front crash prevention vehicle to pedestrian. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) partially rated the RX 350 with five stars, its highest rating, in side impact collisions and four stars in rollover protection. It has mixed reviews in frontal crash prevention due to tweaks made in front airbags for some RX models.
Warranty: 4-year/50,000 mile basic; 6-year/70,000-mile powertrain; first and second scheduled maintenance.
Len Ingrassia is an independent automotive columnist. Contact him at email@example.com