As a style-conscious statement of indulgence, the Lexus RX shines like never before. Its looks are polarizing and it's not all that fun to drive even in F Sport form, but the RX continues to excel in many ways.
Almost ubiquitous with the term "luxury crossover," the Lexus RX was redesigned last year with a far more lavish look and feel inside and out.
It's a daring breath of fresh air for the model that essentially pioneered this premium, upscale segment. We like the current Lexus RX, even though it's not quite as polished to drive as some rivals. With its solid feel and eye-catching looks, the RX rates a 7.3 out of 10 on our scale. (Read more about how we rate cars this year.)
The RX is available as either the gas-only RX 350 or the hybrid RX 450h. A special F Sport trim level is available that adds its own adaptive suspension setup.
For 2017, the RX gains as standard some previously optional features: automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and automatic windshield wipers are the highlights.
Lexus RX styling, comfort, and performance
It may be a bit of a cliche to call the RX bolder than ever before, but considering the precedent of "jellybean" RXs that preceded the current model, that label is especially apt. It's the most adventurous Lexus crossover design to date, and it's among the most striking vehicle designs you'll find anywhere. The even edgier F Sport with its razor-sharp grille and 20-inch wheels isn't for shy drivers by any means.
Inside, the RX's dashboard is sporty and almost sedan-like, aside from its high seating position and, of course, the view out the rearview mirror. The dashboard cants toward the driver and there's a wide array of climate control and basic audio buttons that are well-organized. Trims and materials in the RX family look and feel bucks up, for the most part, against the model's German rivals. There's good room up front thanks to a body that grew about 5 inches overall compared to the previous model. Unlike some of its competitors, the RX has seats and seat belts for five passengers; there's no third row, something Lexus leaves for its more truck-like GX 460 lineup.
There are two primary models of the RX: The RX 350, powered by a 295 horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6, and the RX 450h hybrid with its own version of the V-6 tuned for improved fuel economy and paired to an electric motor-generation system. The RX 350 is available as a front-wheel drive model or an all-wheel drive model, while the RX 450h is all-wheel-drive only.
All models can be ordered with the F Sport performance package, which has proven popular enough with shoppers that Lexus is making it available on both front- and all-wheel drive RX 350 models for 2017 (previously it was only on the all-wheel drive RX 350 and RX 450h).
Underneath, all RXs look the same at first glance with their MacPherson strut front and double-wishbone rear suspension setups. Tuned primarily for comfort, the suspension does give the RX a more poised feel than its soft-riding predecessors, but it's the F Sport's adaptive suspension setup that delivers a firmer ride and more responsive handling, although no model boasts particularly communicative steering. The RX isn't at all an off-roader—that duty is again left to the pricier but decidedly rugged GX.
Lexus RX safety and features
Lexus takes a big leap forward for 2017 by making a previously optional suite of collision prevention tech standard for 2017. All models now include automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, pedestrian detection, and a system that can nudge the crossover back into its lane should it start to drift. That's in addition to the expected safety features like a full complement of airbags and stability control.
What's surprising is that the while the RX aced the IIHS' challenging barrage of crash tests and has been awarded its Top Safety Pick+ award, the crossover only scores four out of five stars overall in the federal government's assessment.
Even the base RX is well-equipped, but most RXs you're bound to find on a dealer lot will have the optional Premium Package that replaces leatherette with leather and adds in a few other goodies expected on a luxury car. On the tech front, the optional navigation system is controlled via a computer mouse-esque controller that we neither love nor hate. It takes some acclimation, but it does work—just not as well as infotainment knobs seen in rivals.
There’s also a rear-seat entertainment system available, with 11.6-inch screens at the back of the front headrests, and a huge panoramic moonroof for skylight above front and rear passengers.
The RX 350 is rated at 20 mpg city, 28 highway, 23 combined with front-wheel drive, or 19/26/22 mpg with all-wheel drive, according to the EPA. Meanwhile, RX 450h hybrid models achieve 30/28/30 mpg with all-wheel drive.