Stick Shift: 2018 Lexus RX 350 F Sport

The star SUV in the Lexus line is back with a few improvements for 2018. The changes don’t feel substantial, but include a complimentary 10-year Enform Safety and Service Connect, a new 3-row RX L model, a moonroof and blind spot monitoring that is now available in the base model. Despite minimal changes, the fact remains, as a luxury SUV, the RX has been a top seller in its segment for very good reasons. 

On top of its long list of admirable qualities is the overall polish and refinement of its interior. With every square inch, we get the sense that Lexus hasn’t stopped paying attention to the details. With an assembly that feels air tight, the use of premium materials throughout, comfortable seats and a smooth, quite ride, the newest Lexus RX 350 continues to capture what the luxury consumer is after in a crossover SUV. 

In F Sport trim, beautifully exclusive red leather seats and panels sharply contrast the otherwise black interior and brushed metal trim. Aluminum adorns the pedals, gauges and shift knob, and the leather seats and steering wheel are heated. As good as the RX 350 is on the inside, it’s not perfect. Just because seven seats are available, does not mean they can all be comfortably occupied, as the back three are as tight as they come. Also, the infotainment system remains as cumbersome to use as ever.

Photo via: Toyota

 On the outside, extra sporty F Sport pieces find their place, like chrome dual exhaust bezels and those striking 20” aluminum chrome alloy wheels. The new RX 350 F Sport looks as sharp and mean as ever, and adaptive suspension dampers help to add extra stability and composure in the handling department. While the improvement is noticeable, especially paired to that strong 3.5 L V6, the F Sport model still falls short of some of its German rivals like the Audi SQ5 or Porsche Macan.

By not trying to be too sporty, the newest RX 350 F Sport achieves a wonderful balance of uncompromising luxury and ride quality, while still supplying the aggressive aesthetics on the inside and out to help satiate your cravings for higher performance. Throw in a powerful V6 churning out nearly 300 hp, with a capable 8-speed automatic transmission, a long list of standard features, and all of it at a reasonable price compared to its competitors, and the RX 350 doesn’t look like it plans to budge from its place on top.

By: Brandon Randall

Price as tested: $56,030.00

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