Lexus created the luxury crossover segment when it debuted its RX some 14 years ago. For 2013, RX gets a makeover, including the addition of the new “face” of Lexus and a sport model.
The new signature spindle grille leads a list of revisions for the RX lineup for 2013, which also sees fresher, sportier styling along with upgraded interiors.
The RX is offered in gas-only RX 350 and hybrid RX 450h models. The hybrid version now offers a sport mode, which includes: revised steering effort, throttle mapping, and gear shifting (should drivers become a little bored with the ECO mode of operation).
Gasoline-only 350 models are powered by a 270hp 3.5-liter V-6, backed by multi-mode sequential shift eight-speed automatic transmission- offered in front or all-wheel drive versions, with the latter receiving Active Torque Control (to sense wheel spin and redistribute power to the wheels, with grip up to a 50:50-split, front to rear).
The RX 450h hybrid models utilize a 3.5-liter gas engine, combined with electric motors and a power control unit for propulsion in electric-only, gas-only or combined modes. It is also available in FWD or AWD models, with front-only models achieving 32 mpg city and 28 mpg highway driving. For 2013, Lexus is staying with the Nickel Metal Hydride 288-volt battery pack, which is located underneath the rear seat.
Our recent tester arrived in the form of the 2013 RX 350 F Sport. This is the first time the “cushy” crossover sees a sport model. For this application, the F Sport package adds tuned suspension and 19-inch alloy in graphite finish. A unique 3-spoke steering wheel, with audio and cruise controls, as well as paddle shifters, is also included.
As with all Lexus vehicles on the road today, the RX lineup provides the latest in safety and convenience technology, along with a longer list of acronyms to define them. Let’s just say everything is included and there might even be a kitchen sink somewhere.
The infotainment system can be accessed by the center console controller or by redundant controls, found across the dash and instrument panels. Further, many can also be accessed by voice control. I like the addition of the heads-up display in this model, as it helps keep drivers’ attention forward.
What the F Sport package offers Lexus and the RX lineup is the chance to better compete with other automakers in the entry luxury crossover segment. RX has always done well, but lost buyers who were looking for something a bit more robust. F Sport does not launch the RX line quite to the level of say the BMW X3, but it’s headed in the right direction.
Ride and handling is improved over previous models, and with that eight speed gearbox, it seems as the vehicle is forever shifting while running around town. As with all RX models before it, this crossover is very comfortable and quiet.
Pricing for the 2013 RX 350 F Sport AWD begins at $47,000- our loaded tester arriving at a final price point of $53,865. EPA ratings for the gasoline 3.5-liter V-6 are 18 mpg city and 26 mpg highway. But as I mentioned previously, Lexus does still offer a hybrid RX for enhanced fuel economy.
Thanks to the addition of the F Sport for 2013, Lexus is getting further down the road in its dogged “pursuit of perfection.”