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2013 Lexus RX 350 : Current Models

Lexus found an upper hand against the German luxury brands when it developed the RX. While Lexus lagged behind BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz with its sedans and coupes, the RX beat all those brands to market with a richly fitted tall wagon with all-weather, all-purpose appeal. To this day, the Lexus RX--in RX 350 and RX 450h hybrid editions--remains a comfortable, understated piece, with a loyal following of repeat owners and buyers not swayed by the recently arrived BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz M-Class and Audi Q5.

The RX is more practical, often less expensive, and has standout tech and entertainment features in a package that won't be seen as fiscally or environmentally irresponsible. It also has a long-established reputation for reliability and dealer service that can't be erased. They're upscale, but not ostentatious.

For the first time since the current third-generation RX models bowed, for 2010, they've received a light refresh. The 2013 Lexus RX models get a version of the new 'spindle grille' that's already made its debut in the GS sport sedans, which makes it just a little menacing in our opinion, while all the snub-nosed, blunt-shouldered purposefulness--crossed with soft elegance--of the current generation's design remains. LED running lamps, new rear taillights, and a few new colors are the extent of the exterior changes, while inside there's a new steering wheel, contrast stitching for the leather, and a redesigned center console.

New for 2013 on front-wheel-drive models is a Sport Appearance Package that includes a unique front bumper, halogen headlamps and superchrome-finished 19-inch wheels.

If there's a clear pronouncement to make about the RX 350 and 450h, it's that performance takes second stage to comfort and luxury. While parents or empty nesters will find the RX plenty responsive in either guise, it's seldom exciting, edgy, or nimble, and there's a muted feeling to all of the driving inputs. Power comes from a 275-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission; front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive an option. Even with the heavier AWD system, the RX 350 steps off the line quickly and smoothly, and shifts during passing are quick yet downright seamless. Hybrid models perform nearly as well--in an absolute sense, though they manage to mute out even more of the outside world through the steering and brakes.

The 2013 Lexus RX 350 and RX 450h are plush, yet not over-the-top lavish, and just a short ride in one is enough to see why it's such a popular choice for upscale realtors who don't want to look to filthy rich. There's a certain wholesomeness about the practical design, and its versatile seating is roomy and accommodating for four adults; at the same time, it's supremely smooth and quiet, with the passenger experience about as refined as you'll find in flagship luxury sedans like Lexus' own LS. Our only gripe remains that the standard front seats are a little flat and have odd back contouring, while the ride can be sharper (though still not rough) with the 19-inch wheel options.

Lexus vehicles have a reputation for being not just refined and comfortable, but also for being exceptionally well-equipped. That's definitely the case here in the 2013 RX 350 and RX 450h; you'll find a comprehensive list of comfort and convenience features, while options are pretty much limited to interior upgrades and top-notch infotainment systems. Major options include leather; a USB port; navigation with real-time traffic; a rear-seat DVD entertainment system; and a superb Mark Levinson sound system. The Remote Touch controller remains a mandatory part of the interface that we're conflicted about, but nearly everyone will like that the new Enform system enables apps for Pandora streaming audio and other information services.

On Styling
Although the RX family gets various updates and enhancements for 2013, it remains the epitome of understated luxury.

Luxury can be bold and showy; but many luxury shoppers actually prefer a more practical, understated definition of luxury--and that's what the 2013 Lexus RX 350 represents from a styling and design standpoint.

The basic shape and silhouette of the RX hasn't changed all that much over this model's long model run--going back to the 1990s--and that makes it iconic in some ways. But fact is, the RX's styling still plays it safe, and we'd say that it's far more pleasant and innocuous than at all edgy.

Nothing about the relatively light cosmetic changes Lexus is introducing for 2013 changes that; although this year's updates are the first significant ones since Lexus redesigned the RX for the 2010 model year, they;re relatively minor altogether--limited to a new front-end look that matches that introduced for the new Lexus GS sport sedan, a somewhat crisper look in back to match, new LED running lamps, and new colors.

In its current iteration, the RX has become a little more blunt-nosed and high-shouldered, but it hasn't lost its design essence—with a tall roofline, handsome proportions, and smooth details. The new 'spindle grille' changes the way we see the RX from the front--and makes it look just a bit menacing, at first thought, but it remains a rather soft, elegant appearance.

Refinement remains the focus inside--along with a matching level of understated luxury. The interior of the 2013 RX continues with the same design that divides driver controls visually from the passenger zone—leaving a large swath of silver-painted plastic in place of the previous-generation's more subdued wood-grained look. Likewise, Lexus appears to have addressed a complaint of ours--that the current RX didn't feel as rich inside as before--by adding contrast stitching, and adding new Ebony Bird's Eye Maple and Saddle Leather interior options.

One other caution: Don't look for the RX 450h to call out your eco-conscious arrival. As in previous model years, there's very little visual differentiation between the RX 350 and the RX 450h hybrid, and for the latter it's really just a matter of badging, with the differences amounting to some hybrid logos and badges plus blue-lit gauges and a few other subtle differences.

New for 2013 is an available Sport Appearance Package that gets you a unique front bumper, halogen headlamps, and superchrome-finish 19-inch wheels.

On Performance
The 2013 Lexus RX models perform well enough considering their mission, which puts comfort and luxury higher on the priority list.

To most people who are attracted to the understated luxury style of the 2013 Lexus RX, both the RX 350 and RX 450h hybrid models will provide performance that's responsive and refined and completely adheres to the image. On the other hand, don't expect a lot of excitement--or for the RX to be particularly bold or nimble--as performance clearly takes second stage to refinement and comfort.

While a few other details for the RX lineup have changed, the RX lineup's powertrain details carry over to 2013. In RX 350 models, the power comes from a 275-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission; front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive an option. This combination, even with the heavier AWD system, gives the RX 350 a strong, confident feel, and it steps away from stoplights quickly and passes smoothly, with almost seamless shift quality.

The RX carries itself over the road with the same sort of muted, comfort-oriented feel that you'll find in the brand's other conservative models like the ES and LS sedans; the down side of this is that there's really no feedback to speak of through the steering wheel.

Hybrid Lexus RX 450h models pair a 275-horsepower, 3.5-liter Atkinson-cycle V-6 with a version of Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive—one that, interestingly, electrically drives the rear wheels in all-wheel-drive form. Drive the hybrid gently and you'll glide from stops in electric-only mode, with the V-6 almost imperceptibly kicking on at 20 or 25 mph. Drive it a little more rapidly, to go with the flow of traffic, and the V-6 thrums on and off in the background, with the continuously variable transmission generally keeping the revs well below 2500 rpm unless you're close to full throttle.

In all, this is one of the most numb, isolated driving experiences in a hybrid--a good or a bad, depending on what you're seeking--although there are a few vibrations and some engine noise here and there. New for 2013 is a Sport Mode that gives you revised throttle mapping (with more aggressive tip-in) plus different transmission shift points that let the engine rev a bit higher. We haven't yet driven this version, but check back for updates.

On Quality
The 2013 Lexus RX 350 and RX 450h are plush, yet not over-the-top lavish, and just a short ride in one is enough to see why it's such a popular choice for upscale realtors who don't want to look to filthy rich. There's a certain wholesomeness about the practical design, and its versatile seating is roomy and accommodating for four adults; at the same time, it's supremely smooth and quiet, with the passenger experience about as refined as you'll find in flagship luxury sedans like Lexus' own LS.

Adding to the appeal is that it's exceptionally easy to climb into or out of the RX models. Although there's not a lot of legroom in the back seat, there's enough knee room for all but the tallest adults with the front seats back all the way. Back seats also have adult-size contouring—and you can even fit three across when needed—while the seatbacks to flip forward to stash larger items. And to keep precious goods out of sight, there's a clever underfloor storage compartment.

Among the few things we wish for in the RX are better-contoured front seats. An odd contouring that digs into shoulder blades has made it difficult to get completely comfortable for our taller-than-typical editors and test staff, and in front headroom can be surprisingly tight. If you click the right boxes and ante up for some upgrades, the optional seats are worth it as they have the additional long-distance support of length-adjustable lower cushions.

With available semi-anilene leather upholstery (the softer, less treated hides), plenty of soft-touch surfaces, . OLED gauges and plenty of soft-touch surfaces, the RX models feel almost opulent, with the upgraded wood trim that's optional in the RX 350 bringing a richer, better-coordinated look in our opinion.

For 2013, Lexus RX 350 and RX 450h models get a redesigned center console, along with a new steering-wheel design. Also, there's contrast stitching for the leather seats and center-console trim, and there are a few new materials.

Quiet, smooth, and isolated are all ways to describe the RX's ride. Motions are well damped, as they are in a good luxury sedan, and the only noise you do hear is during moderate to hard acceleration—more so in 450h models. The one caution is that we've noticed that with the available 19-inch wheels the ride gets somewhat harsher on some surfaces (though still not rough). (Read More)


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Sources : 2013 Lexus RX 350 Photo | 2013 Lexus RX 350 Article | 2013 Lexus RX 350 Interior Photo | 013 Lexus RX 350 Photo 2

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