Under the Hood: 2017 Lexus RX

Lexus is Toyota’s top-quality luxury brand, and the new 2017 Lexus RX is no exception. With a base MSRP of $43,220, the RX 350 is a qualified five-passenger SUV ready to take on the competition. The Lexus RX 450h F Sport ($56,495) is even more capable, with its hybrid powertrain and superior fuel economy numbers. Lexus has introduced the new generation of affordable luxury SUVs with the new 2017 RX family.

Performance Specs

Each of the four models offered packs a 3.5L V6 VVT-i engine underneath their shiny hoods. The RX 350 base model boasts nearly 300 horsepower with 268 lb-ft of torque. With a 0-60 mph time of 7.7 seconds, this posh SUV won’t move as quick as the competition, but it’s not left in the dust either.

You can either choose FWD or AWD, but the eight-speed automatic transmission is standard. For those wanting a bit more bang and compression, the RX 450h F Sport offers 308 horsepower for its hybrid powertrain. The full lineup of models includes the base model RX 350, the 350 F Sport, the 450h, and the 450h F Sport.

Features and Packages

The RX model series offers customers a range of technological options. With a color heads-up display, an optional Mark Levinson navigation and audio system, performance and handling upgrades for the F Sport models, a 12.3” widescreen display, Lexus Enform, Bluetooth and SiriusXM capabilities, and steering wheel-mounted controls, the Lexus brand shows little signs of ignoring the technological advancements of past years.

Other noteworthy features include a touch-free power open/close rear hatch, and a digital gauge cluster. Hybrid vehicles are Certified Ultra-Low Emission Vehicles, or ULEVs. The RX 350 offers a 20/27 city/highway mpg rating, while the hybrid models claim a 30-mpg rating combined. For a five-passenger SUV, that’s nothing to sneeze at.

Color options for the RX model include: Nebula Gray Pearl, Eminent White Pearl, Atomic Silver, Silver Lining Metallic, Obsidian, Nightfall Mica, Autumn Shimmer, Satin Cashmere Metallic, Matador Red Mica, and Caviar. Customers can choose from either standard 18” wheels or upgrade to 20” for an extra-classy look.

Image via Lexus

Pros and Cons

Consumer Reports had a mix of good and bad things to say about the Lexus RX. While the attention to detail is appreciated in terms of interior and ride quality, there is no real sporty feel to this vehicle. The visibility through the small back window is poor. The standard Lexus Safety System includes such features as automatic emergency braking and lane-departure warning. The hybrid 450h F Sport is most impressive out of them with its powertrain capabilities and the mpg rating.

At the same time, Kelly Blue Book noted that this vehicle isn’t as powerful as its competitors. The luxurious experience was obviously privileged in the RX’s case, so any off-roading is ill-advised. Edmunds agreed that the ride quality is good and that the cabin incorporates top-quality materials. There is a decent amount of cargo space, but there is no third row. Plus, the RX has less capacity than other competitors. The technological offerings require much studying and are distracting to use while driving.

To be fair, J.D. Power did rate the Lexus RX in the three to four range for all categories, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave it a four-star overall rating.

RX vs. Luxury SUVs

Base competitors for the Lexus RX include the Volkswagen Touareg, the Kia Sorento, the GMC Acadia, the Ford Explorer, the Acura MDX, Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Dodge Durango, and the Honda Pilot. More expensive challengers include the Audi Q5 and Q7, the BMW X5, the Mercedes-Benz GLE, the Buick Enclave, the Cadillac SRX and XT5 twins, the Porsche Cayenne, and the Lincoln MKX.

For those looking for more luxury, the Porsche Cayenne, Audi Q5 and Q7, the Cadillac SRX and XT5, and the Mercedes-Benz GLE are great choices. You will be paying more for such things as leather, heated and/or air-conditioned seats, superior interior trim quality, and a host of technological and safety-related gadgets. The Germans are hard to beat in terms of interior luxuriousness, but Cadillac and GMC offer a comfortable and sleek ride as well.

On the flip side, Dodge, Jeep, and Ford offer competent SUVs capable of any off-roading demands. The Pilot is a great value for the options offered, but suffers — like the Sorento and the MDX — from cheap materials that aren’t always as durable as other competitors.

It really comes down to your budget and needs. Soccer moms who dismiss the minivan and opt for the less-stigmatized SUV might have a higher need for cargo space and fuel economy over a cushy cockpit. Those looking for a higher standard of living might choose the Audi or Porsche SUVs, simply for the extra touch added in accents and accessories.

Whatever your choice, the Lexus RX is a good buy for the value it offers in both luxury quality, hybrid capabilities, and standard features. If you’re looking for a mid-range SUV that’ll save you money at the pump, look no further than the Lexus RX model.

Image via Lexus