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  • 2018 Lexus RX 350 F Sport

    Posted on November 2nd, 2018 ninarussin

    Performance inspired midsize crossover

    By Nina Russin

    2018 Lexus RX 350 F-Sport

    The midsize RX is Lexus’ most popular crossover, filling the squares for active families who crave luxury as much as versatility. The F-Sport package adds a performance dimension, with a Sport + mode for the adaptive suspension and sound-enhanced engine technology. The package also adds unique exterior trim, 20-inch alloy wheels, special upholstery and interior.

    Power comes from a 295-horsepower V-6 engine and eight-speed automatic transmission. Base price is $48,920 excluding the $995 delivery charge. Additional options on the test car include blind spot monitoring with intuitive park assist, panoramic moonroof, Mark Levinson premium audio system with navigation and roof rails. Final MSRP is $56,030.

    Test drive in Southern Arizona

    2018 Lexus RX 350 F-Sport

    Families on the go who can afford its luxury price will not be disappointed with what the RX has-to offer. The standard V-6 engine produces ample power for motoring around town or out on the open road, while the eight-speed automatic transmission includes several large gears to enhance fuel economy on the highway. Zero-to-sixty acceleration for the front-wheel drive car is 7.9-seconds according-to the manufacturer. Drivers can further extend gas mileage by opting for the Eco mode in the drive mode select system.

    All cars come with Lexus Safety System +: A suite of active safety features that includes pre-collision with pedestrian detection, all-speed dynamic radar cruise control, intelligent high beam headlamps and lane keeping assist. Blind spot monitoring is not included in standard equipment which doesn’t make a lot of sense, especially for a car in this price range. Since the car’s rear pillars create large blind spots in the back corners, buyers should plan to fork out the extra $1065 for the option that also includes rear cross traffic braking and intuitive park assist.

    2018 Lexus RX 350 F-Sport

    A four-wheel independent suspension consists of MacPherson struts up front and double wishbones in back. The double wishbone configuration is compact, enabling engineers to maximize space in the vehicle’s second row of seating and cargo area.

    The adaptive variable suspension responds in real time to changes in the road surface and the driver’s habits. Various settings enable owners to favor fuel economy while motoring around town with a quicker throttle and more aggressive shift patterns while driving for fun on the weekends.

    While the F-Sport is primarily an appearance package, the Sport + mode lets drivers add even more throttle response and firmer suspension settings for more aggressive driving. Shift paddles on the steering wheel allow the driver to choose gears manually and keep the revs up.

    2018 Lexus RX 350

    An electric power steering system is nicely tuned to the car, with plenty of assist at low speeds and decent on-center response on the highway.

    Four-wheel disc brakes stop the RX in firm, linear fashion.

    At night, LED headlamps emit long, bright beams similar-to daylight in intensity while conserving battery power. LED daytime running lamps make the RX more visible to other drivers in low light conditions and on twisting two-lane roads.

    Buyers familiar with Lexus’ legendary quiet interiors will find that the RX follows suit, making it easy for occupants to converse on the highway or enjoy the audio system.

    Stylish interior

    Lexus RX 350 F Sport Interior

    The RX interior is versatile enough for growing families. Two rows of seating accommodate up to five passengers. Second-row seats fold flat to extend the cargo floor, making the RX bicycle friendly. Those needing a third row should wait for the 2019 models where the extra seating is an option.

    A Rojo Red upholstery color scheme is unique to the F-Sport, making the sport-inspired grade stand out from other models. Keyless entry and start makes it easier to enter the car and fire the ignition after dark. I found the power driver’s seat easy to adjust for a clear forward view with plenty of lower lumbar support.

    Dual-zone climate control with rear vents keeps all passengers comfortable. Both the climate and audio systems have separate controls for simple functions so the driver doesn’t have to worry about using the touchscreen.

    The touchscreen and gauge cluster are easy to read in bright sunlight and after dark. Buyers planning to make extensive use of the navigation system should opt for the upgrade. The Scout GPS link is not always easy to access, since it depends on a Bluetooth link from the driver’s smart phone. Mark Levinson premium audio systems are an expensive add-on but deliver quality similar-to a symphony hall, so music aficionados should find that a worthwhile investment.

    Standard safety

    The Lexus RX 350 comes with ten airbags, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, dynamic radar cruise control, pre-collision with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist and tire pressure monitoring.

    Lexus builds the RX at its Cambridge, Ontario Canada assembly plant.

    Like: A stylish crossover with a versatile interior that is bicycle friendly and available all-wheel drive.

    Dislike: Blind spot monitoring is not standard equipment.

    Quick facts:

    Make: Lexus
    Model: RX 350 F-Sport
    Year: 2018
    Base price: $48,920
    As tested: $56,030
    Horsepower: 295 HP @ 6300 rpm
    Torque: 268 lbs.-ft. @ 4700 rpm
    Zero-to-sixty: 7.9 seconds
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: N/A
    Bicycle friendly: Yes
    Off-road: No
    Towing: No
    Fuel economy: 20/27 mpg city/highway

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