2013 Lexus RX 350 F-Sport AWDPosted on May 8th, 2013
Five-passenger crossover tuned for performance
By Nina Russin
As a car enthusiast and athlete, I’m always on the lookout for vehicles that fill both squares. This year, Lexus adds an F-Sport variant to the best-selling RX 350 crossover, upping the car’s performance ante.
While the F-Sport model shares the same 3.5-liter V-6 engine as a base model, an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters enables the driver to better optimize its power.
The F-Sport model also adds a sport-tuned suspension and 19-inch wheels to improve handling on challenging roads. A unique grille and badging differentiate the F-Sport from other RX 350 exteriors, while the interior gets black trimmed leather seats, aluminum pedals and a black headliner.
The test car is all-wheel drive for better traction on wet and snow-covered roads. Base price is $47,000. Options include blind spot monitoring, a premium 12-speaker sound system, navigation with Lexus Enform, intuitive park assist and a cargo net. An $895 delivery charge brings the final MSRP to $51,729.
Test drive in the Midwest
Every year, I make a pilgrimage to my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio to run the Flying Pig half marathon. This year, I convinced two fellow Phoenix running club members to join me. We flew into Indianapolis and drove to Cincinnati in the RX. While in Cincinnati, I spent quite a bit of time behind the wheel, showing our friends the sights and scoping out the course for the race.
In typical Midwestern fashion, we encountered just about every type of weather imaginable in a 72-hour period. No sooner had we landed than a torrential downpour soaked Indianapolis, making the Friday night rush hour even more challenging than normal. The days that followed brought a combination of sun, more rain, heat, wind and cooler temperatures after the front passed through.
Cincinnati streets are the ultimate test of a car’s mettle, combining steep hills with blind turns. Straight flat roads within the city limits are a rarity.
The RX 350 F-Sport handled all of this with aplomb. Limited visibility during the rainstorms gave me renewed appreciation for the optional blind spot monitoring system, which displays LED signals in the side mirrors with cars in the adjacent lanes pass through the driver’s blind spots.
Fuel economy from the 270-horsepower V-6 engine was actually better than the EPA 21 mpg estimate. I would guess that part of the reason is the eight-speed automatic transmission, whose large overdrive gears stretch gas mileage on the highway.
Although the sport-tuned suspension has a firmer ride than the base model, both front and rear passengers found the car comfortable during the two-hour trip between Indianapolis and Cincinnati.
The suspension is also compliant enough to buffer passengers from jousts on some of the rougher surface streets. As with most Midwestern towns, Cincinnati sprouts a bumper crop of new potholes when the winter snow melts.
Visibility around the perimeter is good. A standard rear wiper keeps the back glass clear during rainstorms.
Even without the optional blind spot monitoring, it’s easy to see vehicles in the adjacent lanes. The rearview camera projects a wide-angle image to the rear when the driver shifts into reverse. It’s invaluable in crowded garages for monitoring cross traffic.
The nineteen-inch wheels provide a larger footprint for high-speed performance, but the tires also have tall enough sidewalls to make the daily commute comfortable.
Four-wheel disc brakes stop the RX in firm, linear fashion.
The all-wheel drive system varies the power split between 100:0 and 50:50 depending on road conditions. It adds an extra measure of safety during the type heavy downpour we encountered on our trip.
I rarely get the opportunity to drive with rear seat passengers, who can help me evaluate second-row comfort during a road trip. Both of our friends, one of whom is over six feet tall, found the rear seats to have ample head, hip and legroom.
Keyless entry and start enables the driver to unlock the car and fire the ignition without taking the key fob out of his pocket. Designers did an excellent job on the instrument panel. Both the gauge cluster and center stack screen are easy to read in bright daylight and at night.
A mouse device on the center console controls HVAC, audio and information displays on the center console, eliminating a clutter of buttons.
The optional navigation system is easy to program, and I found both the graphics and verbal directions easy to follow. The newest version of Lexus Enform includes apps such as Bing, MovieTickets, OpenTable and Pandora. Drivers can also get weather, traffic and sports updates via XM satellite radio.
Overhead lamps illuminate both rows of seating at night. Vents behind the center console circulate air through the back of the cabin.
With second row seats in place, the cargo area easily held four people’s luggage, including some extra bags of merchandise we picked up at the race expo. The power liftgate makes it much easier to load large items into the back.
The Lexus RX 350 comes with front, side, side curtain, driver and front passenger knee airbags, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, tire pressure monitoring and daytime running lamps.
Safety connect automatically notifies police and emergency medical personnel in the event of a serious collision.
The 2013 RX 350 F-Sport is on display at Lexus dealerships nationwide.
Like: An attractive, versatile crossover vehicle with attractive styling and some performance enhancements that come with the F-Sport package.
Model: RX 350 F-Sport
Base price: $47,000
As tested: $51,729
Horsepower: 270 Hp @ 6200 rpm
Torque: 248 lbs.-ft. @ 4700 rpm
Zero-to-sixty: 7.8 seconds
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: Standard
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 18/26 mpg city/highway2013, Luxury 2013, Active Lifestyle Vehicles, auto review, Lexus, performance, pricing, standard safety
One response to “2013 Lexus RX 350 F-Sport AWD”
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