More than just a crossover
What truly sets Lexus apart from the many premium automakers out there is their drive to improve everything. This is a company that not only exhibits their parent’s (Toyota, for the unfamiliar) philosophy of kaizen (Japanese: continuous improvement), but lives by their mantra of the pursuit of perfection.
Let’s take the RX crossover, for example. Lexus didn’t really need to improve on the best-selling formula by delivering a now-midsized crossover to fit the needs of the modern family, but they went on and did it anyway.
For starters, look at this F Sport variant. The spindle grill, a recent Lexus hallmark, has been made incredibly prominent amidst a very aggressive F Sport bumper. The headlights sit high up on the fascia, and each of them have three L-shaped LEDs for primary illumination.
The silhouette is very sleek with a high beltline that sweeps up towards the back, giving the RX the impression that the roof is actually floating. Being an F Sport variant means this gets details like the F Sport badges and the larger 20-inch wheels. If anything, this RX looks properly sporty, and will definitely be a headturner in the many gated communities they frequent.
Perhaps the most noticeable aspect of this RX F Sport is the application of red leather all over the cabin; a definite nod to the LFA. The dashboard is modern and more straightforward; Lexus made the RX more driver-centric by framing the primary controls and displays (gauges, radio, climate control, etc.) from the door to the console.
The dashboard is dominated by a central display that is manipulated via the controller positioned ergonomically just aft of the shifter. Everything looks more sleek and polished; no more faux-looking wood that looks a bit too bright for this day and age. But perhaps the most notable change over the predecessor is the migration of the shifter to the center console.
Despite being a mid-size crossover, the RX is still a 5-seater. That’s all well and good, as it’s better to seat 5 people comfortably with its supple leather and with leg, hip, and headroom to spare than seven people rather snugly; this is a premium crossover after all.
The new RX 350 F Sport gets an improved version of the 2GR 3.5L V6. What that results in is more power at 292 PS at 6200 rpm and 360 Newton meters of torque at 4700 rpm. And it’s matched with an 8-speed auto with on-demand all-wheel drive should the road surface get slippery; the standard RX gets front-wheel drive only.
On a daily commute from home to the office and back, amidst a mix of concrete roads, smoother tarmac, and with a lot of potholes in between, the RX drives as a Lexus should. Smooth, comfortable, and quiet; the sound insulation even makes other cars seem silent, save for the rather common motorcycle with open mufflers.
The steering is precise; a good thing to have when maneuvering around tight city streets, and you’ve got ground clearance to spare should you misjudge the curb on the corner. Cameras and sensors make quick work of tough-to-get-into parking slots, though you do need to leave room for your door to open as the doors seem to be quite thick. Fuel economy isn’t too bad: 6.5 km/l (21 km/h average) if driven sensibly in traffic and 10.0 km/l (86 km/h average) on the highway.
On the expressway, the RX 350 proves to be a very capable and very comfortable long distance cruiser… for the family. It almost feels like a grand tourer instead of a crossover, as the seating position lends the feeling that you’re settled into it and not on it, much like you would on a more conventional crossover with a more upright seating position. On the faster corners, the RX 350 F Sport doesn’t disappoint. The steering is definitely not analog (hydraulic), and so don’t expect a great amount of “feel.” What it is is accurate: it’s intuitive, meaning where you point is where it goes.
Overall, the 2016 RX 350 F Sport has it where it counts; rides like a Lexus when you want it to, and almost delivers the drive of a GT car if you so wish.
ENGINE: V6, 3546cc, dohc 24-valve, VVT-iW, VVT-i, 8-speed AT
POWER: 288 bhp @ 6200 rpm
TORQUE: 265 lb ft @ 4700 rpm
0-100 KM/H: 8 sec.
TOP SPEED: 200 km/h
FUEL MILEAGE: 6.5 km/l City / 10.0 km/l Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: PhP 4,938,000
+: Futuristic looks, drives well, comfortable
-: Fuel economy could be much better
C! Rating: 9.0/10