2016 Lexus RX 350 F Sport First Drive

2016 Lexus RX 350 F Sport

In a market in which luxury brands are seeming queuing up to change naming strategies for their vehicles—Infiniti, Mercedes-Benz, and Cadillac, for example—the 2016 Lexus RX lineup carries forward with the same familiar RX 350 and RX 450h (hybrid) badges.

Truth is, it’s changed so dramatically that Lexus really doesn’t need to change badges on the RX. The entire vehicle is a moving testament to how dramatically the brand is pushing change, and a new dose of extrovertedness, into its lineup—shepherded firsthand by Toyota Motor Corporation president and CEO Akio Toyoda.

Lexus uses the word ‘bold’ a lot in describing the new RX, but it’s an especially bold move in itself to be changing the long-established, best-selling model of the lineup so dramatically.

Out with the jellybean, in with the single-origin chocolate

This generation seems to simultaneously throw out what remains of the utilitarian ‘jellybean’ look of the original, and swap some of the glossiness it’s always presented throughout with finer, warmer details, and more of a precise look inside. But if you don’t see a cohesive design in the RX, you’re not alone. It sure isn’t the smartly dressed wallflower that the outgoing model is.

We think it looks like a mashup—a seemingly merged result of two or three design inspirations that somehow work when they’re all together. It’s very expressive and engaging, and interesting that through its lipped wheel wells and lower-body treatment it’s actually teasing odd influences of the SUV cues that have always been eschewed by the RX.

Keep in mind, if you’ve seen this model in pictures, that the exterior holds up better in person. And with all the complex surfacing work gives this model seemingly a slightly different look wherever you go, based on the way the light hits it. At the very least, the sheetmetal looks better under natural light than under the bleak white lighting of an auto-show stand.

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