2016 Lexus RX

Starting MSRP: $41,900 - $49,125

Estimated MPG: 20 city / 28 hwy

2016 Lexus RX Review

The 2016 Lexus RX 350 has been fully redesigned. Along with a new look, Lexus’ midsize SUV now offers more power, better fuel economy and a cabin that’s a huge step up in terms of quality.

By Jim Sharifi
Last Updated 05/03/2016

The Lexus RX 350 is fully redesigned for 2016 and is available in base and F Sport trims. A 3.5-liter V6 engine is standard, which is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and the choice of front- or all-wheel drive. A hybrid variant known as the Lexus RX 450h is also available.

Exterior

Exterior
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The first thing you notice about the all-new RX 350 is the large “spindle” grille. It’s a staple of Lexus’ design language that also makes its way on to models like the Lexus IS, LS, LX, NX and RC.

On the sides, sharp character lines create a sense of motion and draw attention upward and to the rear of the RX, where black C-pillars create the illusion of a floating roof. Styling cues that unify the RX 350 with other models in the lineup continue at the back of the vehicle, as the spindle motif is accented by LED taillights, strong shoulders and dual exhaust ports.

Heated sideview mirrors, fog lights and 18-inch wheels come standard with the 2016 RX 350. F Sport models bring in 20-inch wheels, as well as a mesh grille and unique front and rear bumpers.

Interior

Interior
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The RX 350’s redesign brought a big upgrade to the interior, which includes exceptionally comfortable and supportive front seats, as well as a rear row that offers a bit more legroom than the outgoing model. High-quality materials cover the dash and center stack, and buyers can choose from wood trim options that include Walnut, Bamboo or a particularly attractive Sapele wood with aluminum inserts.

Dual-zone automatic climate control, a power tilt-and-telescopic steering column, leatherette upholstery and power-adjustable front seats are standard, along with a split-folding rear seat that slides and reclines. 

All models come with a power liftgate, which opens to reveal 18.4 cubic feet of cargo space. Folding the rear seats opens up 56.3 cubic feet.

Available options include a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and leather upholstery.

Performance

Performance
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The 2016 Lexus RX 350 comes with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 295 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard and all-wheel drive is optional. The EPA reports that the 2016 RX 350 gets 20/28 mpg city/highway, which is an improvement over the 2015 model’s 18/25 mpg estimate. All-wheel drive models have slightly lower estimates of 19/26 mpg.

While it may not be the most athletic SUV in the class, the RX 350’s V6 engine provides sufficient power off the line and there’s enough in reserve for highway passing and merging.

A Drive Mode Select system is standard, offering Eco, Normal and Sport modes in the base RX. F Sport models also get a Sport+ mode and a customized setting that allows you to tailor the behavior of the powertrain, air conditioning and steering.

The base RX 350 stands out as one of the more comfortable SUVs in the segment, with a quiet ride and a suspension that soaks up road imperfections. It’s a little floaty over rough roads, however, and that compliant ride adds up to driving dynamics that are a little uninspired on twisting stretches of pavement. F Sport models instill more confidence, thanks in part to unique suspension tuning and larger 20-inch wheels, but still don’t seem quite as composed as some competing luxury SUVs.

Technology

Technology
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The new RX 350 comes standard with keyless entry and ignition, two USB ports, Bluetooth and a Lexus Display Audio system with an 8-inch screen. Available options include a head-up display, a Mark Levinson audio system, a rear-seat entertainment system and a navigation package that adds smartphone app integration, satellite and HD Radio, Lexus’ Remote Touch controller and a 12.3-inch display.

We tested models equipped with the navigation package and the expansive 12.3-inch screen. 

On-screen menus and settings are accessed with Remote Touch, which features a mouselike controller that can be a little difficult to use. Positioning the cursor to make on-screen selections with Remote Touch requires more attention than we’d like, particularly while driving. Fortunately most major audio and climate functions have redundant knobs or buttons on the center stack that are much more intuitive to use.

Safety

Safety
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The 2016 Lexus RX 350 comes standard with a rearview camera, daytime running lights, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control and a suite of air bags. The Lexus Enform telematics system is also standard, providing automatic crash notification, emergency assist, roadside assistance and a stolen vehicle locator.

A blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert is available. Also optional is a Safety System + package that adds forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams and lane departure warning with steering assist.

Cost-Effectiveness

Cost-Effectiveness
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The 2016 Lexus RX 350 starts at $41,900 plus a $940 destination charge. Add $1,400 to the base price if you want an all-wheel drive model. Lexus’ Safety System + is reasonably priced, adding $1,050 to the bottom line. Expect a fully loaded RX 350 F Sport to retail for about $58,000 after destination.

Lexus’ redesigned RX 350 stacks up favorably against competing luxury midsize SUVs in terms of price. Models like the BMW X5, Infiniti QX70 and Volvo XC90 all have higher starting prices than the RX 350. If you’d prefer a slightly smaller model, SUVs like the Audi Q5 and Acura RDX could also be considered.

Our pick would be an F Sport model, which narrows the pricing advantage that the RX 350 has over most competitors, but also brings in standard all-wheel drive, better handling, unique styling and interior upgrades that include leather upholstery and heated and ventilated front seats.

Overall

Overall
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While its tech features can be a little cumbersome, the redesigned RX 350 still succeeds on a number of levels. The interior is a big step up in terms of quality, and a bold new look should help the RX stand out a little more in within the luxury midsize segment. Lexus’ reputation for reliability and strong resale values is an added bonus, and the RX 350 offers a comfortable ride and undercuts a number of competitors in terms of price.

If you liked the outgoing model, the new RX simply builds on the attributes that already made it a compelling choice within the segment. That’s a good thing for Lexus since new styling and a vastly improved interior should lure new buyers into the RX 350 fold.