2013 Lexus RX350 F-Sport - Expletive Make-Over of a "Chi-Chi" X-Over - Review

Lexus likes being the Numero Uno selling luxury car-brand in the good ole U. S. of A.

Lexus doesn't like the ribbing it's been taking over the years for offerings which isolated rather than communicated. Pampered rather than rewarded.

Appending the "F-Sport" designation (derived from the Fuji Raceway in Japan) to the more athletic cars in their line-up  was hardly a gamble.

But to do it to the "Chi-Chi" best-selling RX350 crossover utility?

Smells Like Cosmetics To Us:

No doubt, large smoke-finished 19" alloys bound with Dunlop 235/55 tires to match darkened lower-body cladding - look "cool." Faster damped wheel shock-absorbers and shock-tower lateral damping improve cornering grip incrementally.  But the prospects for taking aggressive sets are upset by body lean and twitchy electric-assisted steering. Compliance on the road suffers. Each time we hit a crater-sized pot hole we cringed for the RX350 wheels and our rumps.

Paddle shifting the F-Sport exclusive 8-speed automatic gearbox with elegant chrome-'n-leather, gated console shifter in a Lexus RX? We just don't see your upscale suburban Grand Dame doing it.

The cost of these bits, including "F-Sport" badges and aluminum-trimmed pedals: $6200. Taking what is otherwise a competitively priced all-wheel drive to a not-insubstantial $51,000.

No More Urgent Than Lesser Brethren:

And that is fine by us. Because our acutely sensitive hearing doesn't know of many engines that sound better than the twin-cam 3.5-Liter VVT-i gas mill - shared with ES350 sedan. With 270-horsepower/ 248-pound-feet spin the RX350 F-Sport has enough giddy' up n' go to merge this 4500-pounder into freeway traffic with urgency. Four-wheel discs, larger and vented in the front, offer re-assuring friction even if we didn't really heat them up. Lexus estimates combined EPA fuel economy for the RX350 at 21 miles-per-gallon. We hit the mpg bullseye.

The Lexus Adherence to High Quality:

It's evident outside and within the RX350 F-Sport. To eyes and hands all materials above ankle height are pleasing. While there are faux metal appliques their sheen and fit is nearly better than real ores. Call us "stunned" by a driver's door window seal which bent out of shape, drawing violent wind noise into an otherwise ear-plugged environment. A couple of creaks coming from the passenger seat area were likely owing to the harsher ride.

Sumptuous front seating, featuring 10-ways of adjustment, are in harmony with an F-Sport leather trimmed power tilting/ telescoping steering wheel. Just 7.3" of dedicated-to-on-road ground clearance afford as close to a car step-up you can get in a crossover-ute.

Surprisingly, the sole major tech option on our RX350 tester was  HDD navigation with 8"-inch LCD info-tainment display, for a princely sum of $2775. It takes some getting accustomed to the PC mouse-shaped tracking-pointer. Pass the learning curve and you'll discover that tracking hand gestures often requires less movements than rotary dial twisting. For the less adventurous there are is a generous array of voice commands available for telephony, communicating, and navigating.

The ability to visually read text messages supplied from a Bluetooth connected handset...while in motion...is convenient, though we heartily endorse waiting for a red light to reduce distracted driving. Lexus Enform Apps include stock quotes, sport scores, and weather with radar, but you can import your own apps from compatible wireless devices.

The soft, low-nap carpeting used in the cargo area, with chrome hardware, is a sign that the RX350 is expected to rarely be pressed into lumber lugging service. If it ever is, there's undoubtedly an after-market rubber mat out there good to cover all 40 cubic feet of power-opening hatch area, which expands by folding the 40/20/ 40% split second row seat back.

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We wonder about this exercise in stylistic "masculinization" of the 2013 Lexus RX350 F-Sport. You know, many of  the wives/ girlfriends are already letting their guys borrow the keys to their RXs.

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