The Lexus RX has been around since 1998 and has stuck to the same basic concept of a compact to midsize crossover with a peppy engine, decent fuel economy, and luxury to boot. The RX’s first generation established the vehicle’s reputation as a swanky alternative to larger, body-on-frame SUVs. Bowing out in 2003 after a mild facelift in 2000, the RX moved into its second generation. The same story continued, with the then new RX’s debut in 2004, a refresh in 2007, and exit in 2009. Lastly, the third generation came about in 2010 with a refresh in 2012. Now two years afterward, the 2014 RX 350 still looks relevant though it’s appearance is much more subtle than other, more recent Lexus products.

I recently spent a week behind the wheel of an RX 350 to get a feel of how this aging crossover is holding up.

While the it’s beginning to age in comparison to Lexus’ growing number of fresh products, the RX still holds it own. In a way, it walks softly but carries a big stick. It doesn’t command attention in the same way an Escalade does, but once within its cabin, a certain level of luxury is found. And while the RX and the Escalade aren’t direct competitors, they’ll likely be parked side by side at the local country club or golf course.

Click past the jump to continue reading about the RX 350

  • 2014 Lexus RX 350 - Driven
  • Year:
    2014
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V6
  • Transmission:
    six-speed automatic
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    270
  • MPG(Cty):
    18
  • MPG(Hwy):
    25
  • Torque @ RPM:
    248
  • Displacement:
    3.5 L
  • 0-60 time:
    7.5 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    110 mph (Est.)
  • Layout:
    Front Engine; FWD
  • Price:
    46950
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:

TopSpeed Garage

Exterior

2014 Lexus RX 350 - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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2014 Lexus RX 350 - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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2014 Lexus RX 350 - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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Coated in Deep Sea Mica blue paint, the RX really shines.

The Lexus RX’s design style is uniquely its own. Its spindle grille up front helps define the crossover’s brand affiliation while the sloping rear roof and large side windows are cues not seen on any other vehicles. That sloping roof has become an icon for the RX, much like Land Rover’s roof style has for it.

Coated in Deep Sea Mica blue paint, the RX really shines and the photos don’t do it justice. It’s almost like a pair of dark-wash denim jeans; they look good at any occasion. The bright-chrome accents around the RX really liven things up and help define the major contour lines.

Interior

2014 Lexus RX 350 - Driven Interior
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2014 Lexus RX 350 - Driven Interior
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2014 Lexus RX 350 - Driven High Resolution Interior
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Controls are smartly placed and make logical sense as to their function.

Like its sloping roof line, the RX’s interior is uniquely its own. The swoopy dash with satin metallic accents, contrasted with dark and tan colored plastics, really set the environment apart. The feel is straight-up Lexus and is not unlike the other products from the brand I’ve recently driven. Especially familiar is the steering wheel and the infotainment system.

The steering wheel is definitely the easier of the two to get used to. Controls are smartly placed and make logical sense as to their function. Lexus’ Enform infotainment system is almost another story. Once you’ve learned the system and its mouse-like controller, it becomes second nature. However, there is a bit of a learning curve. Those not interested in computers or technology may have a difficult time learning their way around. Besides its usability, the Enform system looks rather outdated compared to others on the market.

Rear seat passengers won’t care, however, as their seats are a comfortable distraction. Plenty of legroom and headroom fill the second row and a folding center armrest with a soft, leather-wrapped pad creates a comfortable place to relax elbows. Reclining seatbacks are the icing on the cake.

Powertrain

2014 Lexus RX 350 - Driven Drivetrain
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Torque steer is managed well thanks to the electronic gadgetry.

Motivating the RX 350 is the venerable 3.5-liter V-6. In this application it’s making 270 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. Its dual overhead cams offer variable valve timing for added efficiently and power. The V-6 does a great job at moving the RX around, with little want for more power. It seems nicely matched to the tall crossover.

Torque steer is managed well thanks to the electronic gadgetry. You know it’s working when accelerating hard around a corner, but the systems, nor the torque steer, are overly intrusive.

Fuel consumption over the week averaged 20.5 mpg. That falls right in line with the EPA’s estimated 21 mpg combined. In city, the RX is estimated at 18 mpg, while highway cruising is estimated at 25 mpg.

Driving Impressions

2014 Lexus RX 350 - Driven Interior
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The smooth suspension coddles occupants over rough pavement and NVH levels are pleasantly low.

Overall the RX drives well for being a taller crossover. Its large windshield and high seating position makes outward visibility fantastic. Large side windows and side mirrors also aide in the overall airy experience. The steering felt nicely weighted and was smooth around corners. The same can’t be said for the skinny tires, which howl much earlier than expected.

Highway driving is a fantastic experience. The smooth suspension coddles occupants over rough pavement and NVH levels are pleasantly low. Ergonomics are good except for trying to adjust the passenger’s HVAC temperature while the gearshift is in park.

Unlike a few other Lexus vehicles I’ve recently piloted, the door-mounted armrest are large enough for elbows, making long distance drives more comfortable. Speaking of armrests, the center console armrest opens up revealing a compartment with a false bottom. A folding door opens up an area large enough for valuable to be stored out of sight, even for prying valet attendants.

Pricing

2014 Lexus RX 350 - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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My 2014 Lexus RX 350 has a base price of $39,760 but is well equipped with some $7,000 worth of options. Those include the $2,775 infotainment system, the $2,760 Premium Package, the $500 Intuitive Parking Assist, and a few other odds and ends.

Add on the $910 destination fee, and the grand total creeps up to $46,950

Competition

2014 Cadillac SRX

2014 Cadillac SRX High Resolution Exterior
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The Cadillac SRX might not look like much from the outside, but GM has totally revised its interior for 2014 to look more like the CTS sedan. Rich materials give it a more upscale feel and Cadillac’s CUE infotainment system brings technology to the dash.

Like many other GM products, the SRX is powered by the 3.6-liter V-6. In this case, it’s making 308 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic does the shifting and 60 mph comes in roughly seven seconds.

Pricing for the SRX starts at $38,225. Jumping up to the AWD model will cost $46,095. Prices for a well equipped SRX dives into the $50,000 range.

2014 Acura MDX

2014 Acura MDX - Driven High Resolution Exterior
- image 539242

The MDX has an all new look for 2014, with its beak-like grille and sharp lines skewing in multiple directions. The looks is much more upscale than previous MDX models, so the change is welcomed.

Under the hood lies the familiar 3.5-liter V-6 production 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. An AWD system is this Acura’s specialty and helps the tall SUV handle foul weather as well as curves.

Pricing for the MDX starts at $42,290 but pricing can quickly jump into the mid-$50,000 range with a higher trim package and a few options selected.

Conclusion

2014 Lexus RX 350 - Driven High Resolution Exterior
- image 574736

Despite its relative age, the RX 350 is still a competent vehicle with affluent looks, a luxurious cabin, and a surprising V-6. It coddles passengers in heavily padded, leather-bound seats while wood and high-quality plastics cover everything else. Its outward appearance is reserved and tasteful yet not dull or boring. The RX makes a polished statement in a whispered voice rather than shouting from the rooftops with reckless abandon its need for attention.

  • Leave it
    • * Doesn’t have current Spindle Grille design
    • * Thirsty for a crossover
    • * Enform system showing its age
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