2016 Lexus RX Review

2016 Lexus RX - The redesigned 2016 Lexus RX luxury crossover has racy styling, practicality and a hybrid economy version.


Prices: $41,900-$57,045

Raleigh, North Carolina--The RX has been the top-selling Lexus for years. The more rakish and plusher redesigned 2016 model shown at a media preview here in the Raleigh area should further enhance the RX's reputation and increase its sales.

For starters, the longer new four-door hatchback RX body has a dramatic mix of sharp creases and curves. The front end is lower, and blacked-out rear roof pillars provide a "floating-roof" effect never seen on a Lexus. Even the large dual exhaust outlets are artfully shaped.

The RX is more rigidly built and is church-quiet, even at 80 m.p.h. highway cruising speeds.

However, Lexus retains its large, polarizing spindle grille, which has a chrome-plated border and triple L-shape LED headlights.

Door openings are wide and their handles are large, but it takes extra effort to get in or out of the RX because of its high floor. Once inside, though, occupants have an excellent view of  surroundings.

The RX is billed as a five-occupant vehicle, but only four adults fit comfortably.

The hatch opening is wide but rather high. The cargo area is fairly large, and rear seatbacks flip forward to increase cargo capacity.But they don't sit completely flat when folded  forward.

The improved interior is more upscale, with convenient console cupholders. Front seats are supportive in curves, and even rear seats provide good support. But door pockets are too shallow for convenient use of larger objects.

For years, Lexus was known for its conservative looks, which suited most luxury buyers just fine. But many have been older buyers, and Lexus is looking to grab younger (or younger-at-heart) ones with the new RX, which lists from $41,900 to $57,045.

The standard RX350 model comes with front  or all-wheel drive (AWD). It's powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 with 295 horsepower. Then there's the RX450H with a hybrid gas/electric drive system utilizing a 3.5-liter V-6 and a hybrid battery. Total system horsepower is 308, and you can also get it with AWD.

The RX 450h Hybrid actually is a bit faster than the RX 350 with its straight gas engine (0-60 m.p.h. in 7 seconds compared to 7.7 for the RX 350). No matter what drivetrain, both cars sound pretty much alike during hard acceleration.

A smooth, responsive eight-speed transmission comes with the RX 350, while the 450H hybrid has a CVT automatic, which works seamlessly.

The RX350 gets an estimated 20 m.p.g. in the city and 28 on highways with rear-drive and 19 and 26 with AWD. The RX450h's economy figures are 31 and 30 with front drive and 30 and 28 with  AWD.

I drove all versions of the new RX at the media preview and found the racier looking F Sport model to have the best handling, although the RX 350 has decent handling and can be had with the adaptive variable suspension option that has "eco," "normal" or "sport" modes. Sport model gives the SUV a stiffer suspension for flatter cornering and sharpens the feel of the car.

No matter what model or suspension setup, all RX models have the smooth ride expected of a Lexus and linear brake pedal action.The steering is quick, but feels dull.    

There's an all-out Sport S+ setting available with RXs with the Adaptive Variable Suspension system that offers a higher level of performance with aggressive throttle mapping, quicker drivetrain response and flatter cornering.

 The F Sport Hybrid now is available with AWD. It has exclusive quilted sport seats special steering wheel, sportier interior and drilled aluminum pedals.

Outside is a blacked-out mesh grille, lower spoiler section, black side mirrors and revised front fascia, besides exclusive 20-inch spoked aluminum alloy wheels.

The F Sport has no power increase but handling benefits partly from the Adaptive Variable Suspension system and the 20-inch wheels.

I found it a little difficult to quickly read the somewhat gimmicky F Sport's circular gauge that combines a tachometer and digital speedometer. And the F Sport gets no power increase,

However, most RX controls are clearly marked and easy to use. It's nice to have convenient dashboard volume and tune controls for the audio system. A 12-inch center display is offered. An eight-inch unit is standard.

There's an available 12-speaker Pioneer audio system. The standard audio system includes an 8-inch display.There's also an available 12-speaker Pioneer audio system.

Luxury automakers seem to be trying to outdo each other with driving aid and safety features, and Lexus is no exception with the RX.

Such items include dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, vehicle sway warning, intuitive parking assist, panoramic view monitor, intelligent high-beam system and blind spot monitor with rear-cross-traffic alert.

The RX hood glides up gracefully on twin hydraulic struts, but Lexus has such high quality it's doubtful that many  owners ever open the hood.

Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

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