By David Colman
Hypes: All Weather Security, Lovely Interior Finish
Gripes: Premature Intervention of Traction Control
There’s nothing like a week of Pacific storms to make you appreciate the virtues of an SUV like the Lexus RX 350. The RX is surely the prescription to counter inclement weather because it’s full time, active torque control all-wheel-drive never loses traction, no matter how tough the going. Part of the credit for this indefatigable adhesion belongs to the water-clearing tread design Dunlop engineers have perfected on the Grandtrek Touring A/S tires (235/55R19) that grace every corner of the Lexus. The Dunlops are mounted on F Sport 7.5” x 19” dark-graphite finished aluminum alloys that contribute not only to the stability of the RX, but complement its looks as well. F Sport tuned suspension lowers the RX’ ride height, and contributes to its flat cornering stance. This is one SUV that handles more like a sports truck than a semi.
Aside from a slight tendency to pogo over successive bumps, the ride of the RX is impressively comfortable. Wind noise is negligible, rear and side vision is excellent, and the generously sized exterior rear view mirrors do an admirable job of keeping you traffic-informed without resorting to the $500 optional Blind Spot Monitor. In keeping with the high standards of the Lexus marque, the interior of the RX is as welcoming and comforting as a room at the Ritz. If you’re big or tall, you’ll appreciate the fact that the driver’s seat and steering wheel retract to offer additional entry room. If you have no need of this concierge feature, you can easily de-select it from the Customization Menu that covers dozens of similar personal likes and dislikes. A handy mouse on the transmission tunnel suffices for menu navigation. Everything from the auto door lock feature to the duration of courtesy light illumination can be tailored to fit your needs. If you have questions about how to proceed, simply consult the 1,036 (!) page brick of an Owners Manual that occupies more than half of the glovebox.
The RX is a lively performer thanks to its 270hp 2GR-FE V-6, which benefits from variable valve timing and 24 valves to provide more than adequate passing surge. If you plan to tow, your trailer load limit is 2,000 lbs. without benefit of the available Tow Package, or 3,500 lbs. with the option in place. Lexus provides another glovebox stuffing 452 page Navigation Manual if you opt for the $2,775 voice-commanded Navigation System which also provides Lexus Enform (a concierge service) with “Destination Assist, eDestination,” and an “App Suite” that covers everything from stock quotes to eating spots. For me, the best part of the system was the inclusion of a 1-year subscription to Sirius/XM satellite radio, which conveniently provided current weather maps during storm week. One idiosyncrasy of the Lexus system is its inability to provide constant monitoring of musical content. If you want to know what’s currently playing, you must trigger the “Radio” button on the dash, and even then, the display only persists for 20 seconds.
Configuration of the RX facilitates a variety of lifestyle undertakings. With just a couple of latch releases you can transform the comfortable back seat into a storage area that will swallow a mountain bike, or provide housing for a couple of dogs. The rear liftback opens with a light touch and closes automatically with the push of a button. When you drop the rear seats, the resultant space is flat floored and utilitarian. The RX is a multi-purpose SUV that amply fulfills its dual role as a passenger wagon or goods conveyor. Best of all, it does so with customary Lexus craft and panache.
2013 Lexus RX 350
- Engine: .5 liter, 24-Valve V-6 with VVT
- Horsepower: 270hp
- Torque: 248 lb.-ft.
- Fuel Consumption: 18 MPG City/26 MPG Highway
- Price as Tested: $52,224
- Star Rating: 8.5 out of 10 Stars