The 2019 Lexus RX 350 returns mostly unchanged, except for the newly added Lexus Enform Connect smartphone app integration. The current version of this SUV rolled out in 2016, launching this model’s fourth generation.
There is a reason why the RX remains a top seller in the midsize luxury SUV segment: it has the quality, reliability, technology and safety features customers want. It is also available in two- and three-row configurations, the latter adding an “L” to its name. That “L” doesn’t mean a longer wheelbase, however, they are the same as non-L models.
2019 Lexus RX Overview
Lexus offers the 2019 RX in three trims: RX 350 ($43,670), RX 350 F Sport ($49,320), and RX 350L ($47,870). Add $1,025 for the destination charge and another $1,400 for all-wheel drive. A hybrid variant, the 450h, is marketed separately.
As with most any Lexus model, you’ll find a host of packages available. The standard model offers six, including a Premium Package ($1,100, upgraded wood trim, a rear armrest storage compartment, leather interior trim, power outside mirrors, and a power moonroof).
A Luxury Package ($4,235) builds on the base package, adding 20-inch designer alloy wheels, illuminated front door sills, a heated wood-and-leather steering wheel, upgraded leather, and power seat extenders for the front seats.
You’ll also find a Navigation Package ($2,145) and a Navigation and Mark Levinson Premium Audio Package ($3,225) available. A pair of minor Cold Weather ($315) and Towing Prep ($265) Packages round out the offerings. The other trims have similar packages with some variations in content and cost.
A Matter of Style
The look of Lexus is something you either like or hate, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We’ve seen Lexus’ styling evolve in recent years from the evocative to the provocative. No longer can it be said that Lexus styling is uninspiring.
The RX’s front fascia is dominated by a spindle grille with LED accent lighting supplying flair and distinction. The deep cutouts at the lower corners along with the pronounced body sculpting of the hood raise the sporty quotient considerably. The drama continues along its sides, most noticeably with the floating roof design. From the rear, the tail lamps amplify that fascia with LED accent lights. Lots of chrome trim supplies elegant ornamentation.
Inside, the RX’s cabin offers a profound statement of Lexus style, elegance, and quality. The cabin is beautiful, serene and roomy — at least for five adults. The available third-row seat, however, is too small to house adults and barely useable by children. They’re okay for short trips, but if you’re shopping for a seven-passenger model, the full-size GX is where you want to shop. You might also consider the available six-passenger seating as this arrangement swaps out the middle bench seat for a pair of captain’s chairs. With this layout, access to the third row is easier and rear passengers have a bit more maneuverability available.
Lexus puts a lot into the RX’s dashboard, developing a multi-layered design with chrome accents and a color that contrasts with the roof pillars. The center stack tilts toward the driver and is itself wrapped in chrome. The color display sits on top of the dash with no direct connection to the stack. There is a certain fluidity apparent as the lines cross and intersect — it isn’t overwrought, but it is visually appealing.
As for the rest of the cabin, every seat is plush and supportive. Deep door pockets, thickly padded armrests, and available ambient lighting are welcome touches. The RX is all-day comfortable and all-the-time quiet.
Safety & Technology
We expect Lexus to lead in all things safety and the RX does not disappoint. All models have the Lexus Safety System+ bundle, which includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, all-speed dynamic radar cruise control, automatic high beams, and lane departure alert with lane keep assist. These are the kinds of features we’re seeing offered in both mainstream and luxury models. Most manufacturers charge extra, however.
Lexus also offers individual options, including blind spot monitoring, parking assist, automatic braking, and rear cross-traffic alert. A head-up display is also available. Fully optioned, the Lexus RX delivers all the driver-assist features we expect.
As for non-safety technologies, the RX comes with an 8-inch color display, Bluetooth connectivity, a 12-speaker audio system, and the Lexus Enform app suite. What’s missing is smartphone compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Lexus is behind here, not offering smartphone access we’re seeing nearly everywhere else. That’s beginning to change, but not fast enough for some consumers.
When it comes to upgrades, Lexus fans will be delighted to find an available 12.3-inch color display. The split-screen layout is crisp and concise, one of the best we’ve seen anywhere. Lexus bundles this screen with its navigation system. Also available is a 15-speaker Mark Levinson audio package, which delivers exquisite sound definition and distribution.
On the Road
Let’s hear it for V6 power! Every Lexus RX has a 3.5-liter V6 engine with 295 horsepower and 267 foot-pounds of torque. An 8-speed automatic transmission sends power to the wheels.
The V6 is a common engine in many of Toyota’s larger models, including the Highlander, Camry, Avalon, Sienna, and Tacoma, although there is some difference in power, depending on the vehicle. The Lexus models with this engine include the IS, ES, and GS. Its a proven engine with ample upfront and passing power. Indeed, this V6 moves away from a dead stop with confidence and moves this SUV on the open road with authority. Even under full loads, you can expect the powertrain to keep up as the transmission switches cogs with precision.
Models outfitted with all-wheel drive possess an important advantage over the standard front-wheel-drive RX: up to 50 percent of the power shifts to the rear wheels under certain circumstances. Models equipped with the F Sport have no power advantage, but the exhaust chatter is louder and directed into the cabin. Still, this is one of the quietest models of its kind, matching the smooth driving you’d expect from Lexus.
If you prefer a more spirited drive and feel, the drive mode selector offers normal, eco and sport modes. Choose the F Sport and two more modes come in: Custom and Sport+. No, you won’t mistake this SUV for a performance model, but it is hardly a weakling at that.
For owners with a need to tow, the RX has a 3,500-pound tow rating when equipped with the optional tow package. On the other hand, the competing Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class with the available turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine delivers up to 7,700 pounds of towing capacity. Buyers should also compare these models to the Jaguar F-PACE, BMW X5, Cadillac XT5, Volvo XC90, Audi Q7, Infiniti QX60, and the Acura MDX.
Auto Trends Recommends
Inasmuch as seven seats may seem appealing and the available six-seat arrangement the better option in a three-row layout, it is difficult for us to recommend any RX-L model. As for the standard Lexus RX, that’s where you want to search as it offers the best combination of passenger room and cargo capacity. As mentioned earlier, if you need more passenger carrying capacity, then the Lexus GX is where you should be looking.
Some may find the RX’s exterior too busy for their tastes, while others will simply overlook the enormous grille, deep cutlines, and the floating roof. The cabin is definitely this model’s strong suit, as it offers an attractive style, exquisite materials, and matchless fit and finish. If you’re not beholden to an SUV, then the Lexus ES sedan is also worth a look, a model imbued with an outstanding interior and a premium ride.
2019 Lexus RX 350 Specifications
- Sticker price from $49,170 (plus a $1,025 destination charge)
- Price as tested: $60,480
- Seats 5, 6 or 7
- 3.5-liter 24-valve V6 gasoline engine
- 295 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm
- 267 foot-pounds of torque @ 4,700 rpm
- 3.70 inches bore by 3.27 inches stroke
- Engine compression ratio: 11.8-to-1
- 8-speed automatic transmission
- Wheelbase: 109.8 inches
- Length: 192.5 inches
- Width: 74.6 inches
- Height: 67.7 inches
- Passenger volume: 121.3 cubic feet
- Storage volume: 18.4/56.3 cubic feet
- Towing capacity: 3,500 pounds
- EPA: 20 mpg city, 27 mpg highway
- Regular grade gasoline
- Fuel tank: 19.2 gallons
- Curb weight: From 4,222 to 4,387 pounds
- IIHS safety rating: Top Safety Pick (2018)
- Limited vehicle warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty: 6 years/70,000 miles
- Corrosion warranty: 6 years
- Vehicle assembly: Cambridge, Ontario CANADA
See Also — Compact Luxury and the Lexus NX
Photos copyright Auto Trends Magazine. All rights reserved.