2016 Lexus RX 350 / 450h CUV Review 

PORTLAND, OR: When one vehicle accounts for 40 per cent of total sales, you don’t mess with it, which is exactly what Lexus has done with the 2016 RX luxury mid-size CUV.

  • NYIAS_2016_Lexus_RX_350_F_SPORT_016
  • Lexus RX 2016 grille
  • Lexus RX 2016 main
  • Lexus RX 2016 lighting
  • Lexus RX 2016 engine
  • Lexus RX 2016 cargo
  • Lexus RX 2016 rear


    • What’s Best: Segment standard setting build and quality levels.
    • What’s Worst: “Spindle Grille” especially on and F Sport makes the RX look nose heavy.
    • What’s Interesting: Cambridge assembly plant in Ontario is the only place outside of Japan allowed to build Lexus.

2016 Lexus RX 350 / 450h  at a glance

BODY STYLE: Mid-size, luxury CUV

DRIVE METHOD: Front-engine, all-wheel-drive, eight-speed automatic transmission

ENGINE: RX 350, 24-valve DOHC 3.5-litre V6 (292 hp, 260 lb/ft); RX 450h DOHC 3.5-litre V6/Lexus Hybrid Drive (308 hp, 247 lb/ft with gasoline engine only)

CARGO: (Behind front seat) RX 350, 1,594 litres (56.2 cu ft); RX 450h, 1,583 litres (55.9 cu ft)

SEATING CAPACITY: Five passengers

TOWING CAPACITY: RX 350, up to 1,588 kg (3,500 lb); RX 450h 1,585 kg (3,494 lb)

FUEL ECONOMY: (Regular) RX 350, 12.1/8.9/8.0L/100 km city/highway/combined; RX 450h, 7.7/8.2/8.0L/100 km


Lexus RX 350 grille

PORTLAND, OR: When one vehicle accounts for 40 per cent of total sales, you don’t mess with it, which is exactly what Lexus has done with the 2016 RX luxury mid-size CUV.

When it debuted in 1999, the RX 300 set the standard in its segment and arguably still does today, despite fearsome competition from just about every other manufacturer on the planet.

The Lexus game plan has always been quite simple – produce the best vehicle possible with the highest quality materials and build quality.

And that defines what Toyota/Lexus is all about; in other words, no cutting corners.

So with the 2016 Lexus RX 350 and RX 450h (h for hybrid) you have evolution, not revolution.

Except when it comes to styling.

RELATED: 2015 Lexus NX 200t Review

All RXs that have gone before have been pleasant, if not bland, to look at. But the 2016 changes all that.

Rounded corners are gone — replaced with the new, edgy Lexus design language with sharpened fender and well arch lines.

Lexus RX 350 front

But it also sports the latest iteration of the new “Spindle Grille” design motif, which is the largest yet especially in the F Sport models.

Depending on model, there are two choices of headlights with a compact Bi-LED headlight or an available L-shaped LED headlight accompanied by 18 individual LEDs.

The Spindle design theme carries over to the rear with LED L-shaped taillights that wrap forward around the rear fender sections for a more powerful and wide stance look.

Lexus RX 350 lighting

You will not fail to notice a RX coming or going, but particularly on the approach.

The mainstream model is the RX 350 with eight-speed transmission and 3.5-litre V6 engine producing 292 hp and 260 lb/ft of torque, which is up over the outgoing model.

Lexus RX 350 engine

Fuel consumption is rated at 12.1/8.9/8.0L/100 km city/highway/combined and it can tow up to 1,588 kg (3,500 lb).

The RX 450h Hybrid starts with the 3.5-litre V6 (308 hp, 247 lb/ft) and adds the latest, most efficient yet version of the Lexus Hybrid Drive system with a new front transaxle with a water-to-oil cooler for improved motor/generator cooling performance at low speeds and a pre-loaded differential.

Fuel rating is 7.7/8.2/8.0L/100 km and towing, because the hybrid drive adds weight, is 1,585 kg (3,494 lb).

RX models in Canada are all-wheel-drive.

The 2016 RX rides a new global platform, making it slightly larger in all dimensions but the suspension system stays the same with MacPherson struts up front and a double wishbone set up at the rear.

RELATED: 2015 Lexus RX 350 Sportdesign Review

That means the Adaptive Variable Suspension is still available on F Sport models. It controls the damping force of the shock absorbers at each individual wheel in response to road surface conditions and driver inputs.

That can be coupled to the Active Stabilizer Suspension system that quells body roll and is the first of its kind in the world.

And then there is the Lexus Drive Mode Select system that uses a rotary knob on the centre control for Eco, Normal, Sport and Sport S that ramp up the performance and handling through rising levels of throttle and electric steering response and engine mapping.

Also available is the full performance Sport S+ that hardens steering response and stiffens the suspension even more. Lastly, there is Customize, letting the driver choose individual chassis and powertrain settings.

There is so much more, but space to delve into it is limited, so lets get on with how they drive.

The setting for the press launch was just outside Portland, which has a mix of hills and valleys with well-maintained roads.

The RX 350 comes in five trim levels and the RX 450h in four trims. Most important of these is the RX 350 is available in the F Sport model, and for the first time, there is an F Sport version of the RX 450h.

Drive time was brief, but I found the RX 350 F Sport to be the most satisfying, especially when set on Sport S+ where you could feel the suspension stiffen and the steering weight increase in your hands when the mode went from Normal.

The RX 450h, again in F Sport, felt heavier, which you expect but it could also be flung about with verve if asked to do so.

Just as important is the interior, which may be the best part of the new RX with a lowered floor that provides rear seating volume comparable to the LS flagship sedan.

Lexus RX 350 cargo

Much thought went into simplifying controls with a new-look instrument panel and one of the largest heads-up displays (HUD) I have seen and in color, to boot.

Just one example of attention to detail is the available trim developed with Yamaha. Fine wood is bonded to aluminum and then a laser is used to cut a pattern into the wood exposing the polished metal below.

The 15-speaker Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound System is something I’d like to have in my home, let alone a vehicle.

And as a knockout feature, there is an available “touchless” power liftgate that opens when you put your hand or arm near the rear emblem.

Topping it all off is the fact the RX will be built here in Cambridge, the only Lexus that is allowed to be built outside of Japan.

Talk about a vote of confidence in Canada.

Lexus RX 350 rear

RELATED: 2015 Lexus CT 200h F-Sport Review

Show Comments