2014 Lexus RX 350 F Sport

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Date Posted: March 1, 2014
By Zack Spencer

Lexus takes their most popular vehicles, the RX 350 and gives it a sportier feel thanks to the F Sport package

Toyota is known for building high quality cars with fantastic resale value. In fact, Toyota grabbed more Canadian Black Book ''Best Retained Value'' Awards than any other manufacturer. Lexus is the luxury division of Toyota and combined, they won in six different categories. In the Lexus line of cars and SUVs, the best seller by far is the RX 350 mid-sized SUV. Built using common parts found in other Lexus and Toyota products, it represents a lot of what Toyota/Lexus is doing right. The engine is powerful but still thrifty enough for most families, the space is generous and the design is elegant. For buyers that are looking for a bit more performance from the RX, the F-Sport package adds a lot more visual and emotional punch.

Looks

Over the last several years Lexus has taken a more aggressive design approach with their latest introductions. The front grille is more dynamic and is meant to mimic a spindle used in a fabric loom. This is a tip of the hat to the origins of the Toyota Company-- a textile maker, before they got into automobiles. The new, more aggressive grille is framed by LED marker lights and a deeper chin spoiler. The larger 19-inch wheels come in a smoked satin finish and the suspension has been tweaked for more performance. Around back, all RX 350 model come with a power rear lift gate. One of the reasons the RX is so popular is the aggressive starting price. The base model, with the same engine as this F-Sport, starts at $46,150 making it a very attractive alternative to buying a spendy German SUV. The F-Sport model is $55,400 but comes almost fully loaded, with only two options available, the Intuitive Parking Assist and Heads Up Display, which brings the price to $58,850

Inside

The 2014 RX is a mid-cycle refresh of the model that was introduced in 2010. Unfortunately Lexus didn't refresh the inside of the cabin at all, keeping the updates to the exterior and driveline. Not to say that the inside is a disappointment, rather there are a few things that could be tweaked. I'll start with the positives. The cabin has plenty of room for a family of four with a big back seat and lots of legroom. The materials used are of the highest order and the RX is very well put together. The controller for the communications and navigation system is unique in the industry, mimicking a mouse that the driver can slide around. This is one of the best systems as it feels very natural and the driver rarely needs to take their eyes of the road. What could be updated is the array of buttons and their less than logical layout. The F-Sport comes which heated and cooled seats but it took me about 5-minutes to find the switch, which is in the centre armrest?? The dial for the tuner is as far away from the driver as it could be and the seating position is very high. This is great for a lot of smaller women who will drive this RX but tall people might find they tower over the dashboard.

Drive

At the heart of all RX 350 models is a very versatile 3.5L V6 engine with 270hp. What Lexus has done to make the F-Sport sportier is to include an 8-speed automatic transmission over the regular 6-speed unit. By adding two more gears this new model really jumps away from a stop and pulls very well to highway speeds. Two extra gears make a world of difference, helping to bring the engine to life and improving fuel economy. The suspension has also been modified to include a sport tuned dampers and springs. I could certainly tell this RX is different, in some city conditions the ride can be very choppy and not what typical Lexus buyers would expect. The up side is that open road driving is much more sure-footed and dynamic. When the RX is thrown off-centre the top heavy nature of the RX shows its head, the centre of gravity feels much higher than some of the other sporty models in this class.

Verdict

The RX350 is the best seller in the Lexus line for good reason. It offers the same interior space as a mid-sized sedan but sits higher for greater outward viability, comes standard with all wheel drive and has a high resale value. Toyota bakes-in a healthy amount of quality into this product at the Canadian manufacturing centre in Cambridge Ontario, the only plant in the world outside of Japan to make a Lexus product. The RX 350 F-Sport takes all the goodness of the regular RX and makes it a bit more aggressive, especially in the acceleration front. Potential buyers would be well advised to drive both the regular model and this sportier version to see if you can live with the choppy ride, it really is dramatic.

The Lowdown

Power: 3.5L V6 with 270hp

Fill-up: 11.2L/7.7L/100km (city/highway)

Sticker price: $46,150-$55,400

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