2018 Lexus RX-350

2018 Lexus RX 350 Review

A leading luxury crossover, the 2018 Lexus RX 350 successfully combines quality and style.
author
by Travis Langness
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

The 2018 Lexus RX 350 is one of our top recommendations for a luxury crossover SUV. Chief among the RX's appealing qualities is its overall quality. From the premium materials in the cabin to the comfortable seats to the solid construction, the RX gives you the impression the Lexus paid attention to the details. A smooth ride, an easy-to-drive nature and a long list of standard features for a relatively affordable price round out the RX 350's appeal.

The RX 350 isn't without a few flaws. The infotainment interface is often distracting to use and is a big letdown when compared to user-friendly rival systems from Audi and BMW. The RX 350 is a little short on cargo space for larger families, too. (Interestingly, Lexus has introduced the roomier three-row 350 L this year to help out.) Overall, though, the 2018 RX 350 will be a great choice if you're shopping for a five-passenger luxury crossover.

Notably, we picked the 2018 Lexus RX 350 as one of Edmunds' Best Luxury SUVs for this year.



What's new for 2018

The 2018 Lexus RX 350 carries over unchanged.

We recommend

The RX 350 is available in just two versions, and we think it's worth spending a bit more and upgrading to the F Sport trim. The F Sport, despite its name, isn't as sporty as some vehicles in the class such as the Porsche Macan, but it does bundle several desirable options together, including the adaptive suspension dampers and heated and ventilated front seats. The F Sport also gives the RX a more aggressive look and 20-inch wheels as standard.




Trim levels & features

The 2018 Lexus RX 350 is a five-passenger luxury crossover available in base and F Sport versions.

The base RX 350 comes with a 3.5-liter V6 engine (295 horsepower, 267 pound-feet of torque), an eight-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is optional. It's equipped with 18-inch wheels, automatic LED headlights (with automatic high beams), rear privacy glass, a power liftgate, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, simulated leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, a power-adjustable steering wheel, a 40/20/40-split rear seat and a rear cargo cover.

Also standard is a rearview camera, adaptive cruise control, Safety Connect emergency communications, a suite of drive safety aids (the Safety System+ package, including lane departure warning and intervention as well as forward collision warning and mitigation with automatic emergency braking), Bluetooth, an 8-inch display screen, a smartphone-integrated navigation system and a nine-speaker sound system.

The F Sport is our pick in the RX lineup, and it includes sportier exterior styling, 20-inch wheels, adaptive suspension dampers, enhanced engine sound, transmission paddle shifters, unique gauges, heated and ventilated sport seats, leather upholstery and unique interior trim. The F Sport is also available with all-wheel drive.

Options are generally grouped into packages with the RX, but there are a few stand-alone items, too, and availability can depend on the trim level and region in which you live.

The Premium package is available on non-F Sport models and adds roof rails, auto-dimming side mirrors, automatic wipers, driver-seat memory functions, leather upholstery, wood trim and a rear armrest storage compartment. The Luxury package (also only available on base RX models) includes the Premium package items and adds heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, rear door sunshades, upgraded leather upholstery, four-way lumbar adjustment for the front seats, heated rear seats, power-folding and -reclining rear seatbacks, and 20-inch wheels with your choice of color inserts.

The Navigation package adds a navigation system, the Remote Touch tech interface, a larger 12.3-inch display, voice controls, the Lexus Enform App Suite and a 12-speaker sound system.

Other options include a blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and automated braking, a panoramic-view backup camera, either a regular or a panoramic sunroof, a towing package (with an upgraded cooling system), front and rear parking sensors, a hands-free liftgate, upgraded LED headlights (with 18 individual LED accent lights), a color head-up display, a heated steering wheel and a 15-speaker Mark Levinson sound system.



Trim tested

The RX 350 comes in just two versions, although it can be optioned in many ways. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2016 Lexus RX 350 base model (3.5L V6 | 8-speed automatic | FWD).

Driving

The 3.5-liter V6 and eight-speed automatic make a great team. The RX 350 chassis also steers, handles and brakes with poise and balance unless you push it quite hard. It's engaging enough for most people but stops short of being a truly sporty SUV.

Acceleration

The strong 3.5-liter V6 doesn't waste any time when you merge onto the highway or pass on a two-lane road, and the eight-speed automatic transmission is a willing partner. It sprinted to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds at our test track.

Braking

The brakes give a reassuring and secure vibe in daily use, with a steady response and consistent feel. We did, however, observe more nosedive and pull than expected in our 60-0 mph panic-stop tests at the track. Braking distances were a little longer than average.

Steering

The RX responds accurately to inputs, with steering effort that's neither too high nor too low. It nicely isolates road vibrations, too. But it can also feel vague, lacking some of the feedback that helps one judge how much to turn the wheel.

Handling

You'll feel stable and secure in the RX 350, even when hustled on mountain roads. Body roll is gradual and smooth, and there isn't that much of it until you push it hard. It's not a sports car, but it's certainly no marshmallow either.

Drivability

The eight-speed transmission delivers smooth and predictable shifts, yet it will still readily downshift as needed in response to throttle inputs. That's an increasingly rare trait in a world concerned with fuel economy.

Comfort

It's easy to see the RX 350 as a pleasant place to spend a long road trip. It has comfy seats with available intelligent heating and cooling, the cabin is quiet and serene, and the ride is mostly smooth. We say "mostly" because this current-generation RX favors control over pillowy softness.

Seat comfort

We never tired of the sumptuous leather seats, which offer many adjustments and feature excellent heating and cooling with a unique automatic setting. The usual RX seat side bolsters are less prominent than those on the F Sport seats.

Noise & vibration

You won't find much in the way of wind rush or road noise, and the engine sound is refined. It's not that there's no noise at all; it's more a case of fairly low levels that are balanced with one another so no single source of noise stands out.

Interior

This easy-to-master cockpit is a spacious and comfy place to pass the miles. Overall it's excellent, but the huge rear entertainment screens should give you pause, and the cargo area isn't as versatile as those of some rivals.

Ease of use

The seating position is great, and the controls are easy to use. A nice mix of knobs and buttons. The massive 12.3-inch navigation screen is easy to read, and though the tech interface's Remote Touch joystick has been improved, it's still not an ideal interface.

Getting in/getting out

Neither too tall nor too low, the seat height of the RX is about optimal. The wide-opening doors provide easy access, and the doorsills are cut in fairly close to the seats. The power-memory steering wheel swings away to provide more clearance.

Roominess

There's plenty of room up front, even with the panoramic sunroof present. The rear offers copious headroom and elbow room, but knee and toe space can be tight behind a tall driver.

Visibility

The view forward and to the sides is unobstructed, and the rear three-quarter blind spot is moderate. The outside rearview mirrors are a nice size. The excellent (and optional) 360-degree camera system even has a perimeter scan feature.

Quality

Although Lexus isn't immune from quality-control gaffes, the Japanese brand is so incredibly consistent with overall quality, fit and finish, and detail that you'll be impressed by how well it holds together, even with extensive miles on the clock.

Utility

Bold styling comes with a cost: reduced cargo capacity. Bulkier items are less likely to fit, and the rear seatback doesn't fold totally flat. Unless you're looking for max cargo and max luxury, don't consider it a deal-breaker. The optional hands-free liftgate is a nice touch.

Technology

Befitting a luxury crossover, the RX 350 offers a generous set of standard safety and convenience tech. A robust list of options also covers a wide range of priorities, including a glorious panoramic sunroof, audiophile sound quality, heated surfaces, and decadent interior trim and upholstery.

Audio & navigation

The nice standard nine-speaker audio system includes a CD player, USB, Bluetooth and an 8-inch display. Twelve- and 15-speaker upgrades and the optional navigation system come with an excellent 12.3-inch display but also the clumsy Remote Touch mouselike controller.

Smartphone integration

The Lexus Enform App suite includes now-common apps and services such as Facebook Places, iHeartRadio, OpenTable, Pandora, Slacker and Yelp. Other services include fuel station and price search and real-time traffic, sports and stock information.

Driver aids

Includes a nice complement of standard safety tech and driver aids such as a rearview camera, forward collision warning with automatic braking, and lane departure and lane keeping assist. Helpful upgrades include a surround-camera view, blind-spot monitoring, and front and rear parking sensors.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.