Entry price: $44,150
Price as tested: $61,130
This week, we drive the 2020 Lexus RX350 F Sport AWD, a smaller SUV that competes with many competitors in a very crowded and growing segment. Delivered in a performance-bred F Sport trim, our tester Lexus was a pleasure to drive and provided spirited performance when called on. Notable is that even in performance F Sport dress, our RX350 still adheres to the build principles of opulence and reliability found in every Lexus assembled.
Built in Ontario, Canada, and listed as a small SUV by the EPA, our F Sport is loaded with both amenity and performance upgrades, including a color coordinated front bumper, large sport mesh grille, 20-inch Michelin tires on F Sport specific 10-spoke alloy wheels, special instrument cluster, high-tech suspension system, front and rear performance dampers, aluminum trim, 10-way heated and cooled seats, leather trim and special F Sport exterior badges.
Under the hood, RX350 F Sport features a 3.5-liter V6 developing 295 horses and 268 lb. ft. of torque. The engine couples to an eight-speed automatic which is standard on both the Lexus F Sport 350 and entry 350 trims.
This F Sport eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters makes driving the AWD Lexus a “more fun” experience. Thus, if you’re like me, i.e. a more aggressive driving opportunist when times and conditions are proper, will find the F Sport more than a willing partner especially for a small, fairly heavy, SUV. Expect zero to 60 mph in about 7.9 seconds while top speed is a computer controlled 124 mph. EPA fuel mileage numbers are acceptable at 19 city and 26 highway with a 22 combined estimate.
Our tester’s options include a fabulous stereo system from the Mark Levinson group. It features a 1,800-watt, 15-speaker setup for $3,365 more. In addition to the great sounds, you receive a 12.3-inch display, navigation, and enhanced Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility along with the Enform Destinations Assist with one year free subscription. Yes, this stereo upgrade is expensive, but it will overwhelm you while nestled in a cabin filled with incredible sounds and infotainment wonders. Notable is the addition of Android compatibility for 2020, as the 2019 RX only offered Apple CarPlay.
On the safety side, the Lexus Safety System-plus and Enform Safety Connect are standard fare, ensuring driver and passengers are riding in a Five Star government crash rated vehicle. Included are all of the best safety features, from emergency collision avoidance, lane departure with steering assist and smart radar cruise control. Then there are the many more Enform 2.0 additions like pre-collision and safety pedestrian detection, speed limit notification, lane track assist and more. Bottom line? All Lexus RX 350s have almost all of the modern safety equipment as standard fare.
On the road you’ll feel safe and secure even in higher speed cornering thanks to the advanced suspension and driver setting options and advanced vehicle dynamics. Additionally, you’ll enjoy the Lexus comfort factor during normal driving as overall, 350 F Sport is a great, smaller SUV in which to make those business trips and/or family oriented longer highway drives.
Inside, F Sport’s two-tone cabin is striking. It features excellent side support seating that Lexus consumers expect. The dashboard is well-done and all switches and dials are upgraded this year in easy reach. The aforementioned performance-inspired instrument cluster is digital although the infotainment system is still cumbersome to learn.
Expect a firmer F Sport ride thanks to adaptive variable suspension and a sport suspension setup. Standard on all RX 350 trims are three drive modes to select from while the Sport+ selection is the most satisfying for performance enthusiasts. To further explain, these selections affect shock absorber settings at each wheel that are either toughened or softened up, shift points, throttle mapping and economy. Drivers can thus manually input their ride desire thanks to the Drive Mode Select dial that offers Economy/Comfort, Normal/Custom and Sport/Sport+ settings.
A notable, albeit expensive, safety/convenience option is the $1,675 Triple Beam Headlight package. This selection offers a modern aero headlight upgrade that provides added visibility thanks to automatic intelligent high-beams that switch on and off when the road ahead allows. This option includes Fog Lamps and front LED turn signals, but for the money I’d pass on this one.
Other options include a 10.5-inch color head-up windshield display that adds $600; panoramic sunroof for $500; cold weather package adds another $200; a panoramic view monitor with intuitive park assist and rear cross traffic and blind spot adds $1,865; and a touch free power rear door with kick activation costs just $150. These additions brought the final retail of our RX 350 F Sport AWD from a base of $51,750 to $61,130 with $1,025 delivery included.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 109.8 inches, 4,387 lb. curb weight, 18.4 to 63.3 cu. ft. of cargo space, 3,500 lb. tow capacity, 38.8 ft. turn circle and a 19.2 gallon fuel tank.
Check with your area Lexus store for any current incentives and remember that the RX 350 in non F Sport trim starts at less than $45K.
In summary, Lexus RX350 is a great SUV in any style of dress and competes well with some of the very best sport luxury SUVs in the world. From BMW, Infiniti, Audi, Acura and Mercedes-Benz to American-bred Cadillac and Lincoln, Lexus is equal to or a step above.
Likes: Performance, small SUV convenience, overall Lexus opulence.
Dislikes: Huge front grille, still cumbersome infotainment controls, smaller cargo space than competitors.
Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and Gannett Co. Inc. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840.
Test Drive column: 2020 Lexus RX350 F Sport
Entry price: $44,150