The 2017 Lexus RX 350 is a direct descendent of a sneaky revolutionary, the 1999 RX 300 that pioneered the now-crowded luxury crossover segment. Thanks to a redesign for 2016, the RX 350 is more athletic looking and well-tailored than ever before. And with that bold grille right up front, it's undeniably distinctive.
Under the new skin is a more comfortable, versatile interior that's spectacularly illuminated with ambient lighting. The RX's leather-trimmed cockpit elegantly blends the best of a sedan's comfort with the usability of a utility wagon. There's plenty of legroom and headroom, plus enough onboard entertainment options to keep the kids amused until they have kids of their own.
While it's hardly optimized for off-road work, Lexus lifted the RX's all-independent suspension slightly last year, allowing it to clear more obstacles than you might think. The engine is a 3.5-liter V6 rated at 295 horsepower and matched to an unobtrusive eight-speed automatic transmission. Both front- and all-wheel drive are offered. The RX 350's brother, the RX 450h (reviewed separately), uses the same body shell and features a gas-electric hybrid drivetrain.
The EPA rates the front-wheel drive RX 350 at 23 mpg combined (20 mpg city/27 mpg highway), and the all-wheel-drive model at 19 city/26 highway).
Compared to previous Lexus RXs, this one handles significantly better. The standard RX 350 wheels are 18 inches in diameter, with the sportier F-Sport model equipped with 20-inch wheels and more aggressive tires. The F-Sport also gets an adaptive suspension, quicker and more responsive steering and F-Sport badges.
Sporty, however, is a relative term, as any RX 350 is more comfortable cruising on road than trying to set a track record. Ultimately, the RX is only modestly powerful, and the suspension is softly sprung. Moreover, if you need a third-row seat, you can't get one in the RX 350. But if you only need two rows, rest assured that the RX 350's sliding and reclining backseat is satisfyingly spacious, even for larger adults.
When the first Lexus RX went on sale way back when, it was the obvious choice in luxury crossovers. After all, it was the only luxury crossover. Now the market is overrun with the breed, so choosing the right one for you means doing some solid research. That's what we give you here at Edmunds.com. Use all of our tools and enjoy knowing you made an informed and confident choice.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.