2015 Lexus RX 350 Sportdesign Review
2015 Lexus RX 350 Sportdesign at a glance
BODY STYLE: mid-size luxury CUV.
DRIVE METHOD: front engine, all-wheel drive.
ENGINE: DOHC 3.5-litre V6 (270 hp, 248 lb/ft of torque) with a six-speed automatic transmission.
CARGO CAPACITY: 1,132 litres (40.4 cu ft) behind second-row seats; 2,273 litres (80.3 cu ft) with second-row seats folded.
TOW RATING: 1,587 kg (3,500 lb).
FUEL ECONOMY: 13.3/9.8/11.7 L/100 km city/highway/combined.
PRICE: $50,600, as tested $62,123.15 including $1,995 freight and PDI.
2015 Lexus RX 350 gets better with age
FRANKENMUTH, MI: There?s no better time for a driving holiday than early fall when the foliage in Southern Ontario is starting to change to brilliant shades of orange, red and yellow.
So when four of us decided to head to the quaint Bavarian-style town of Frankenmuth, MI, during the first week of October for a three day get-away, we couldn?t ask for a better cruising vehicle than the Lexus RX 350.
Frankenmuth is a huge tourist destination thanks in part to the nearby Birch Run outlet mall and Bronner?s Christmas Wonderland, the largest store of its kind in the world with a floor space the size of more than five football fields.
The RX luxury crossover SUV has been in Canada since 1998, but it shows no signs of slowing down from a sales standpoint.
To say that the RX is important to Lexus would be an understatement as the RX line accounted for nearly half of all Lexus sales in Canada last year.
Now in its third generation, Lexus likes to remind us that the RX actually created the luxury crossover segment way back when and it continues to be a class leader as it enters the 2015 model year with a freshened exterior and additional luxury features and amenities.
A five-passenger crossover, the RX continues to be a sales leader because it hasn?t strayed from the original concept?it combines SUV versatility and luxury sedan-based comfort and refinement.
Over the years, the Lexus RX has evolved and now a luxury hybrid, the RX 450h is sold alongside the RX 350.
Our test vehicle offered the new-for-2015 Sportdesign package that is available on both the 350 and 450h models. The performance-based RX 350 F Sport completes the lineup.
Powered by a 3.5-litre V6 engine, producing 270 hp and 248 lb/ft of torque, the RX 350 is mated with a six-speed automatic transmission.
The RX 350 F Sport, meanwhile, gets an eight-speed transmission with paddle shifters.
The RX 350 weighs in at 2,050 kg (4,510 lb) and has a towing capacity of 1,587 kg (3,500 lb). Fuel efficiency is rated at 13.3/9.8/11.7 L/100 km city/highway/combined. During my week with the vehicle, I averaged about 10.2 L/100 km in mostly highway driving.
And highway cruising, no matter what the weather, is where the RX 350 shines.
All-wheel drive is standard and the four-wheel independent suspension smoothes out all but the worst bumps and potholes. Several of the Michigan roads we travelled had severe damage from the seemingly endless winter of 2013-14, yet the RX 350 took it all in stride.
The 1,132 litres (40.4 cu ft) of luggage space behind the second-row seats gobbled up a large suitcase, two overnight bags and assorted other travel items? and that was before the ladies even hit the outlet mall! With the rear seats folded, the luggage capacity increases to 2,273 litres (80.3 cu ft).
Some vehicles just feel right when you hop in and the RX 350 is one of them for me.
After setting the memory button for the power seats, adjusting the tilt/telescoping steering column and getting the mirrors adjusted correctly, I was right at home every time I re-entered the driver?s seat.
And speaking of the seats, this is a very comfortable vehicle for long road trips. The seats are nicely contoured and even after three hours of driving, I didn?t feel stiff and sore when I stepped out like in some vehicles.
The cabin itself is decidedly upscale with attractive use of wood trim that is upgraded in the Sportdesign model. A compact shift lever sits at the bottom of the centre stack, creating an open console area beside the driver with lots of storage space.
Visibility is good from the driver?s seat and the standard back up camera helps when reversing into a parking spot.
On the road, there is some wind and road noise, but it isn?t obtrusive. During our drive home, it was very windy and rainy and the vehicle tracked well, even when the water started to puddle on the road.
The RX 350 Sportdesign, which starts at $50,600, comes with a host of enhancements for 2015.
Among them are heated and ventilated front seats, the driver?s seat memory system, a power moonroof, new 19-inch aluminum alloy wheels, power retractable folding and heated exterior mirrors with integrated signal lamps and puddle lamps, HID headlamps with auto-leveling system, LED fog lamps and daytime running lights and silver painted roof rails.
Two option packages are available on the 2015 Lexus RX 350. The Touring Package includes heated wood and leather-wrapped steering wheel, in-dash DVD player, blind spot monitor, voice-activated navigation system with remote touch haptic controller, intuitive parking assist, wood and leather-wrapped shift knob and electro chromatic rear view mirror.
Our tester had the Technology Package ($9,400) that includes all these goodies plus the Lexus Vehicle Dynamic Integrated Management system, a 15-speaker Mark Levinson surround sound audio system, heads-up display, front illuminated doorsill trim and more.
Other standard features include dual zone automatic climate control, 40/20/40 split second second-row seat with recline and slide, integrated XM satellite radio, steering wheel mounted audio controls and much more.
After a week with the 2015 RX 350, it?s easy to see why this is a perennial best seller.
It doesn?t have the off-road capability of some more rugged SUVs and it may not have the performance or road-hugging capabilities of others, but it does what it?s intended to do? provide a decent level of performance, utility and family-friendly practicality in an attractive, upscale package.