The 2016 Lexus RX 350 F Sport is Cohesive Insanity: Review

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When you have one of the best-selling luxury SUVs of all time in your lineup, it’s a difficult decision to then scrap that successful platform, and start over with something entirely new. But Lexus isn’t afraid to make some bold decisions, as witnessed with the entirety of its spindle-grilled lineup (which some people still aren’t in love with).

When it came to the RX, the decision to start fresh came in 2015. And a good decision it was.

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Angles—Angles Everywhere

‘Aggressive’ isn’t typically a term reserved for a luxury SUV. This end of the market typically has all of the passion of a pair of well-pleated slacks. When it comes to the Lexus RX, though, it might be one of the most aggressive-looking SUVs you can buy (not counting BMW’s M models). The grille is massive, the side profile is sharp, and the floating rear third-quarter isn’t entirely new (see: Nissan Murano), but is still handsome nonetheless.

The new dramatic design really takes a sharp left turn from the previously more-sedated RX—but it works in its insanity.

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Over-Luxed

The interior follows suit from the aggressive exterior styling, but maybe not in the best way imaginable. There are loads of buttons, knobs, and dials. Things are strewn about the cabin, making them difficult to find and easy to lose track of if you have the memory of a goldfish, like I do.

Its saving grace is a massive screen. And I mean massive. It’s easy to navigate and comes fully managed by Lexus’ Remote Touch controller, which works better for some than it does for others. The seats are super comfortable; supple and easy to contour to your body. Even better when they’re wearing a deep red color like the one I was driving.

The rear is spacious, and the trunk is too. By our account, you could probably fit like four bodies in there, depending on how you contort them.

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Fun and Efficient

Driving may matter to Mazda, but don’t tell Lexus that. The RX is fun-enough with Sport and Sport+ driving options, which might surprise you in an SUV of this size. The handling is composed, and resembles a car much smaller than it actually is (note: it’s kind of big). The suspension soaks up faults in the road, all the while reminding you that it actually has some performance chops deep down in its bones.

Power is efficient at 295 horsepower from a 3.5-liter V6. Surprisingly though, that very same V6 gets up to 26 mpg if you drive like a Palm Beach retiree. 0-60 mph is handled in just 7.9 seconds—not that it matters—and top speed is 124 mph.

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The Verdict

The success of the original RX isn’t without merit, but can the new one follow the same path in years to come? We think it can. It’s a much-needed rejuvenation, with a more aggressive look, a more luxurious (yet slightly confusing) interior, and a drive that rivals its German competitors. From top to bottom, it’s a more mature vehicle than the one it’s replacing.

You can snag one for just $42,850, but the 350 F Sport we were driving starts you off a bit more at $49,125.

Specs

Engine: 3.5L V6

Horsepower: 295

MPG: 22/26

Price (as tested): $49,125

Positives

Agressive, handsome exterior

Superbly comfortable interior

Sporty driving dynamics

Loads of room

Negatives

Confusing interior layout

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