2013-2014 Lexus RX 350 F-Sport Review

2013 lexus rx350 f sport lexus has been trying to inject a little bit of sporty flavor into their lineup with the addition of these F Sport trims you’ll also find them on the is the GS and the LS sedans of course but the interesting thing about this rx F Sport is it’s the first front-wheel drive biased F Sport vehicle from Lexus because of course the RX is sort of more or less loosely based on the Lexus ES and the Toyota Camry the Toyota Avalon platforms so that means we
have a transverse-mounted engine up

front and front-wheel drive in the regular RX 350 although all the F Sport models are all-wheel drive let’s take a look F Sport is – Lexus what M Sport is – BMW that means this is not really a full-on performance upgrade for this vehicle because there very few drivetrain changes what we really mostly have are styling changes so instead of the vertical or horizontal grilles that you get in typical Lexus’s the F Sport terms get the sort of squiggle treatment from Lexus I find this the most attractive F Sport grille so far the Lexus IS is just a tiny bit too bold because the squiggles extend all the way through this sort of impact portion of

the bumper all the way from the air dam

all the way to the grille and I think that’s just a bit too much I really like the way that this particular grille looks no sporting package would be complete without different rubber and we get that in the rxf sport as well along with standard 19-inch wheels this wheel size is optional on the regular RX 350 although these particular wheels are exclusive to the F Sport model the only unfortunate problem is that the 235 with rubber doesn’t change so the regular arc 350 really is handling limited by the 235 with rubber and although they do change the brand of tire for the F Sport the size remains the same F Sport doesn’t mean the same thing from one Lexus vehicle to the other so while some Lexus vehicles with the F Sport Package may get upgraded brakes that’s not happening here in the RX F Sport instead we get the same front and rear brakes that you’d expect in the regular RX or 50 which is not necessarily that bad of a thing however this vehicle does weigh about 4500 pounds and if you’re doing panic stops back-to-back or you’re

really abusing your vehicle on that

winding mountain road then these brakes can’t overheat and start to fade however again we only have 235 with tires front and rear so it’s not like you’re going to really be doing that much mountain carving the rx350 was last completely redesigned in 2009 and refreshed in 2012 so the F Sport is really based on that 2012 refresh so the side profile is very familiar to you if you’ve had an rx before we still have that drastically sloping rear profile because of course this is a five seater crossover not a seven seater crossover so if you look at and compare this to something like the Acura MDX it has more of an overall sort of egg shape on the side because of course we don’t have to have room for the sixth and seventh passengers overall I find the styling of the lexus rx350 f-sport quite dramatic and quite elegant in a very good sort of way I think it’s one of the most attractive entries in this segment and now is really the time to talk about that segment and the competition because of course you can’t really include the Mercedes ML or the
BMW x5 or x3 things like that in

competition with the rx 350 and that’s
primarily because of the drivetrain as well as the price tag again we only have a 3.5 liter v6 engine in this car we’re going to take a look at that in a bit that’s the only engine that’s available and the RX 350 does of course come as a front-wheel drive only vehicle when you compare that to like vehicles you really end up with just the Lincoln MKX the Cadillac SRX and the Volvo xc60 we can’t really include the Acura MDX because it’s a 7 passenger front wheel drive biased vehicle and of course the brand is a little bit different as well but styling wise I will include the MDX because I find the Acura to be a fairly terrible jumble of shapes I’m really not sure what was trying to go on with that vehicle up front but I find it decidedly unattractive in contrast I find the Cadillac SRX to be all the right aggressive shapes in all the right

places I think the SRX is probably the

most attractive vehicle in an aggressive sort of way in this particular segment the Volvo xc60 is elegant too demure but in sort of a Birkenstock kind of way and I’m really not clear what Lincoln is trying with the new nose on the MK X I like the rest of the MK X but that nose just isn’t doing it for me there’s not a whole lot to see under the hood of the F Sport that’s because of all these sound deadening panels the F sport only comes however with the 3.5 liter naturally aspirated v6 engine which produces 278 horsepower if you want 295 horsepower you have to offer the RX hybrid but then you can’t get the F Sport handling and suspension modifications on that hybrid model what is different about the RX 250f sport and the regular rx 850 is actually over here under all these sound deadening panels where you can’t see anything at all and that’s an all-new 8-speed automatic transmission all the regular rx 350 s get the old six-speed automatic transmission and this particular vehicle gets that new 8-speed now the F Sport also comes only with all-wheel-drive there’s no front-wheel drive version of the F Sport available so if you want

front-wheel drive then you again you

have to go for the regular rx 350 the extra two speeds on this transmission however make the rx 350 F Sport get the same highway mileage as the front-wheel drive rx 350 it’s about two miles per gallon better than the six-speed rx 350 because this is a Lexus we do have plenty of wood trim in this cabin we course get dark stained wood in this rx F Sport because dark stained wood means sporty well red wood means luxury I guess in comparison to the MK X and the SRX I think that the Rx is just a little bit lower in terms of parts quality we do have a bit more hard plastic that’s within easy reach of the driver and I think that this dashboard doesn’t look quite as nice as the newer injection molded dashboards that are used in the SRX and the MK X I find that the Volvo xc60 is just different in many ways I think that there are there’s still some hard plastics in reach of the driver but the styling is is so different from the SRX and the Rx and the MK X that it’s difficult to make a direct comparison it’s really going for that Swedish modern look rather than this you know
more modern you know mainstream vehicle

that Cadillac Lincoln and Lexus are all going for here so it’s really more of a personal preference I think that in this particular segment the xc60 still wins my interior preference but that’s mainly because the seat although I do find this lexus rx front seat fairly comfortable I don’t find it quite as adjustable in terms of its motion as compared to that volvo seat although we do get power adjustable lumbar support in both the driver and the front passenger seat and we get a power tilt telescoping steering column with a fairly decent range of motion in the lexus the RX f-sport gets a unique F sport steering wheel of course there’s not a whole lot change in terms of the shape of the wheel but we do get perforated leather on this and of course we have these paddle shifters on the back of the steering wheel I really seem to prefer paddles on the back of the steering wheel but most of our Facebook fans seem to prefer them located on the column so keep that in mind if you’re shopping for the rxf sport of course you can use those paddles whether you’re in Drive or whether you’re in the manual mode as
indicated by the shifter that’s in the

center console here now if you’re in
manual mode the car will not downshift for you automatically you have to do that with these paddles and the transmission does Rev match your downshift switch I really appreciate rear seat comfort in the RX 350 is fairly good but like most mid-sized SUV is these rear seats are a little bit close to the floor so if you regularly carry kids in the rear that’s not so much of a problem fact they’d probably prefer that but if you regularly carry adults that is something to keep in mind I do however have a decent amount of legroom and several inches of headroom left and I’m 6 feet tall and this front seat is adjusted for me all S Sport models come with a padded center armrest with a little storage cubby here as well as cupholders that can carry very large drink sizes from most fast-food restaurants the benefit for the Rx for not having a rear-wheel drive bias platform of course is that there’s no transmission underneath the center console it’s completely up front there and that means that they were able to put the drive shaft to the rear very low in the vehicle so there’s literally no hump in this vehicle seriously the floor just goes right from the left side of the rear passenger area to the right side of the rear passenger area that

means that carrying three adults in the rear is something that can be done in the RX 350 now this is a fairly wide vehicle so you can’t fit you know several adult guys back here it’s not exactly going to be comfortable but it’s totally possible I definitely have enough legroom here and I have several inches of headroom left in this middle seat as well the rx F Sport scores 8 out of 10 points in our exclusive trunk comfort index because this is a fairly large cargo area it’s the largest in this quartet of mid-sized luxury SUVs now thanks to the sloping rear profile however it’s difficult to fit large square items in the back of your rx 250 that is something to keep in mind because of the way that this opening is shaped here has a definite huge slant to it so the only area that you could stick larger taller items is right back here by these rear seats of course the rear seats in the RX 350 do fold enlarging that cargo area again to the largest cargo area available in this particular segment everything in this trunk is finished very nice and of course we get a power trunk catch which I always like let’s take a look at Lexus remote touch that’s what Lexus is calling this joystick in the center console now well there are a few Lexus
models that do not use this input method

at this point we’re told by Lexus that
pretty much everything will be using this joystick affair at some point now it operates just like a joystick as I said you move this little affair around and it moves the cursor around on the screen we have a few direct access buttons here we have our map we have our menu but to take you back to the menu screen and we have a zoom in and out button if you want to select something on the screen you move this joystick to that particular options you can see it snaps to the option and then you just press down to select Lexus remote touch is my least favorite input method for modern infotainment systems and that makes me a little bit sad because the Lexus touchscreen system which uses essentially the same software but doesn’t use this joystick obviously instead you just stab the screen is probably one of my favorite systems and simply by changing this input method I find the system is a great deal less intuitive a great deal harder to use and quite a bit more distracting when you’re out on the road let’s take a closer look at the infotainment navigation software this is essentially the same software that Toyota and Lexus have been using for some time which is a good thing because it’s fairly well developed a lot of the bugs have been worked out at this point it’s really just an evolution of that same software they’ve been using for a while updated to include apps
integration with your smart phone as

well as to use this Lexus remote touch joystick again use the joystick to wiggle around the screen and select the option in the menu we have our navigation destination on this particular screen we could use our app integration if our app had been registered with Lexus enform ours hasn’t so we can’t show you that but you would be able to use services like OpenTable bing Pandora media streaming etc we have our fuel consumption over here which gives our you know Lexus and toad a typical past record and current record for a fuel economy we have traffic instance this pulls your traffic data from XM so you do need to have an XM subscription order for that to work Lexus Insider allows you to have sort of a snippets on how to use features of your Lexus these services are also downloaded via XM so you do need XM data services for that to work of course get XM you’ll prices XM sports XM stocks XM nav weather as well again data services are required for all of those we have our system options therein set up on radio we have access to HD radio XM satellite radio as well as AM and FM radio in this particular system to use the USB our iPod Bluetooth or CD interfaces you can
either arrow over using this little

arrow or you can hit the direct access
media button on the dashboard we don’t have anything in this DVD player but if we did you’d see that option there it is a single slot cd/dvd player if you choose the mark levinson sound system which is about $1000 option in our F sport or it’s a six disc changer if you don’t go for that option the iPod and USB interface is fully featured so you can see displays full album art as well as full album information song information etc our album art is loading there it slides a little wheel you have full access to your iPod or your USB device you can browse it using this interface now this interface caches the information from your USB or your iDevice and displays on the screen so it’s fairly snappy to interact with also new for this year we now have voice commands so you can actually search for particular songs or artists using the voice commands such as a seat say a shortcut menu command say help at any time for additional instructions play music play music say a music command now if we pause here for just a second you can see that we have play artists to play album but play song was not an available option and that’s because my music library is too big so if you have
over 3500 songs or so you cannot voice

command songs like you would be able to
in Cadillac queue or forwards my myford touch now we also have here we have our sound options so you can change your DSP settings this is the mark levinson sound system again so we do have a 7 channel surround sound system with a subwoofer in this particular model click over to Bluetooth audio you get essentially the same information on Bluetooth audio once your player is connected that you do in the interface the wired interface except that you cannot browse your device of course you would actually have to direct access your device with this particular system now speaking of devices on the system this system is capable of providing a high power charging for iPods iPads or other high drain devices like modern tablets etc going back to the main menu notice there is a climate option and that’s because there are certain climate control functions that you can only do in this software interface most notably enabling or disabling dual zone climate control in this particular model if we go back and select the next option which is phone we have our fairly standard Bluetooth phone interface the one difference is there’s this message option over here and my iPhone does not support this but if you had an Android phone or another phone that supported text message assistant via this system the system would be able to read your text messages to you and respond with pre contained from the system compared to Cadillac q the system is an awful lot more reliable it’s also more reliable than forward my touch however the interface is just not as easy to use or

as easy to understand as my Ford touch or as Cadillac Q we’re even Volvo senses system which is a little bit more convoluted than your average German or American system because it does use a knob but it’s not quite the same as I Drive overall this definitely rates at the bottom of the pack in terms of user friendliness pretty much just because of that joystick in terms of feature functionality it’s one notch below Cadillac q and one notch below my Ford touch because although it does have app integration and you can voice command your music library it does have some limitations so again if your music library is too large you can’t command certain songs and that’s not a limitation in Cadillacs q for my Ford touch Volvo census system does not offer that same level of voice command ability at this moment so it’s one notch above the Volvo system but definitely a notch below the Ford and the general motor systems because the only drivetrain difference between the RX 350 and the RX 350 F Sport is this 8-speed automatic transmission there isn’t a whole lot of performance difference between the two in our zero to sixty tests we achieved 60 in this model in around six and a half seconds which is only about 2/10 of a second faster than that rx350 with

six-speed Automatic transmission putting an 8-speed automatic transmission in the F Sport model of the rx is kind of an interesting move for Lexus because the GS model supposedly didn’t have Lexus’s 8-speed automatic transmission instead favoring the 6-speed automatic because it was quote-unquote sporty-er just like Jaguar issued the 8-speed ZF transmission for the 6-speed automatic for quite some time because they claimed it was too many gears to hunt through and that’s definitely true with this rx F Sport because there are quite a lot of gears to be shifting through for this engine however the performance benefit of having those closer ratios definitely

is worth the hunting because this is a
naturally aspirated engine and the torque curve really isn’t that broad the Cross dampers and other tweaks that Lexus made to the RX suspension for F Sport Duty have really improved the feel of the RX out on the road but they’ve done very little for absolute grip because instead of giving the RX wider tires all that Lexus really did was swap out the slightly less grippy compound in the all-season tyres used by the regular rx 350 for slightly grippier all season tires in this rx F Sport means we still have 235 with tires up front which is still among the smallest in this
relatively small group of competitors

that would be the Cadillac SRX the
Lincoln MKX and of course the Volvo xc60 with the lowest horsepower in this group and the highest curb weight I hadn’t really expected high performance numbers of the RX F Sport and of course it didn’t deliver those but I had expected a slightly more polished ride and a bit more lateral grip than the rx F Sport really delivers again that’s down to those narrow tires but that does mean that this comes in dead last in this group of four again the Volvo the Cadillac and the Lincoln because the Cadillac in the Lincoln even though they don’t have a turbocharged engine like the Volvo still provide more power they’re lighter and they have wider tires available in certain option

packages but are just not available on this rx F Sport don’t get me wrong the RX their 50 is not a wet noodle on the road it’s not sloppy it’s not you know get ahead for the bushes and run into a tree at the first sign of a curve unfortunately it’s all down to that rubber choice because if you look at the wheel wells in this vehicle there certainly was enough room to provide wider wheels and wider tires in this particular vehicle with of course grippy rubber and I really think that that was an unfortunate twist in Lexus product planning divisions to not take that opportunity and give this car something like to 55 to 65 with tires which would seriously have improved the handling in this vehicle the suspension is definitely up to the task and with these across strut arrangements in this vehicle it really helps you know dampen the chassis flex that’s inherent in the regular rx to a point where I really think that wider tires would have been a good move in this vehicle it’s definitely something you can rectify aftermarket it’s just a shame that Lexus chose not to do that from the factory
the RX 350 starts just over 39,000

dollars in the F Sport package will add about 6,200 dollars to the price of your rx 350 if you were already planning to get all-wheel-drive at a number of other options then the F Sport package makes a lot of sense because it’s a decent value you get these rails on the top you get the 8-speed automatic transmission of course you get the contrasting stitching the black headliner you get standard folding mirrors you get the standard rain scents wipers stiffer springs the retune dampers of course you get the cross dampers in this particular suspension as well and basically what they do is they add sort of a strut tower brace from the left and right strut towers front and rear and then they put a damper in between the two to help settle the suspension a bit so it’s not too bad of a deal you also get the custom wheels and you get some different rubber compared to the regular rx350 however it is about two to three thousand dollars more expensive than any of the competitors and you have to keep in mind that volvo xc60 does have a great deal more power now the rx 350 is larger than its competitors.

Leave a Reply 0

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *