When you have a good thing going, some say to leave it alone. Engineers that are responsible for the 2013 Lexus did mostly that, making some cosmetic changes outside and adding cabin refinements inside, leaving its RX 350 mostly intact. Why not?
The result places the refined luxury crossover SUV in venerable territory in its third year of its third generation. In addition to being the top-selling luxury SUV, the RX continues to attract buyers from multi generations.
One reason for its popularity may be linked to its technological curves. In standard mode with a mouse like interface, its wizardry can be simple enough to operate without a teenager on board to explain all the gizmos.
If you have the aforementioned teenager on board, or its equivalent in geekness, the Lexus Enform system will not disappoint, The Enform screen will bring you up close and personal with movie tickets, dining reservations, favorite music genre and a host of Internet based systems awaiting exploration.
The RX 350 still has a single engine choice for its lineup, a 270 horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 mated with a silky smooth six-speed automatic transmission. The test car I drove was equipped with full-time active torque all-wheel-drive.
In addition to providing a firm grip on the road, the luxury car-based SUV recorded a zero to 60 mile per hour time of 6.8 seconds, quicker than others in its class.
There are 10 airbags onboard including curtain airbags and side bags for the rear seat. Rear seatbacks also slide and recline for added comfort. Cargo space with the rear seats in place is 40 cubic feet and 80 with the seats down.
While the new RX seats five adults comfortably, a third row seat is not available, forcing some potential buyers into other SUVs including the Acura MDX or Infiniti JX35.
Exterior front-end tweaks include a radical chrome design in the shape of an H that stands out in a unique way. Multiple LED lights adorn either side of the lower headlamp assembly.
Where the RX 350 excels is on the open road. Its silky smooth ride, softer suspension and cabin atmosphere combine for a quiet yet firm ride under all sorts of road conditions. Extra sound deadening material is placed throughout the undercarriage and roof to absorb typical road noises heard in many cars.
The refined cabin features extra seat stitching, generous use of authentic wood panels, a refreshed center console and interior lighting.
While Lexus is a high-end car, I would not classify it as a snobbish or elegant set of wheels. I believe what contributes to its superb appeal is the multitude of comfort and convenience features packed into its base model. Combine those items with a smooth yet aggressive engine, a bubble-like cabin atmosphere and the pioneering SUV continues to impress. Sales figures validate its continued success.
Len Ingrassia is an automotive columnist for CNHI News Service. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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2013 Lexus RX 350
Engine: 3.5-liter, V6
EPA mileage per gallon of fuel: 18 city, 24 highway, 20 combined
Base price: $40,710
Model as tested: $50,860
Assembled: All parts and production at manufacturing facilities in Japan.
Crash test ratings: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded the Lexus its highest rating of “Good” in frontal offset, side impact and roof strength. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarded four out of a possible five stars for overall protection with five stars for side impact and four stars for frontal impact.Updating results
Warranty: 4-year/50,000 mile basic; 6-year/70,000 mile powertrain; first two scheduled maintenance services.