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Car Review: 2013 Lexus RX 350 F SPORT

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There aren’t a whole lot of luxury SUVs that can compare in looks to the 2013 Lexus RX 350 F Sport, and after driving one for a week, the rest of the vehicle is also enviable to competitors. The RX 350 F SPORT features an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, F SPORT-tuned suspension, unique sport front bumper and mesh grille, 19-inch split five-spoke wheels in a Dark Graphite finish, and exclusive interior enhancements in a way that only Lexus could deliver!

EXTERIOR

The new distinctive and contemporary front of the RX F SPORT is highlighted with Lexus’ signature spindle grille and a bolder sport bumper, featuring an F SPORT exclusive mesh design. The upper edge of the grille is set lower than the upper edge of the headlamp assembly to establish a more aggressive look. The standard LED daytime running lights and combination rear lamps reflect the “L” design motif. Fog lamps are integrated into the sculpted lower front bumper fascia.

Pronounced front fenders flow into the doors, and integrated rear fender flares neatly sweep around to pull together the taut rear corners of the vehicle. The lower body emphasizes the standard 19-inch wheels. Distinctive F SPORT exterior badging adorns the sporty exterior. Together, these improvements mark a serious improvement from past models, as the RX 350 becomes the vehicle it was intended to be from the start. The new emphasis on design from the folks at Lexus is really paying dividends with the RX 350 F Sport.

INTERIOR

The cabin of the 2013 Lexus RX 350 F SPORT is nothing short of amazing in the quality of the materials, overall luxury feel and high-end technology features. The buttons and knobs are elevated from other luxury SUVs and the leather surfaces are extraordinary comfortable. The RX F SPORT features a unique interior design treatment with perforated black leather-trimmed seats with white perforation holes. White contrast stitching accentuates the seats, center console and door armrests. A new Ebony Bird’s Eye Maple trim adds a touch of sporty elegance. A black headliner, a perforated leather-wrapped steering wheel showcasing the “F” logo, and aluminum pedals complete the interior enhancements.

The RX F SPORT can accommodate a variety of music sources, providing auxiliary and USB inputs, Bluetooth Audio wireless connectivity and a standard integrated SiriusXM Satellite Radio receiver (90-day trial subscription included). Standard voice recognition and Bluetooth technology allow phone calls to be made and received once paired with a compatible smartphone. When an iPod is attached via the USB port, information such as artist name, track and album can be displayed on the available navigation or head unit, while the iPod can be controlled through the audio system. The large center console storage box easily accommodates a variety of electronic devices while keeping wires out of sight.

The available next generation Hard Disc Drive (HDD) navigation system eliminates the need for DVD map discs and offers a unique voice recognition system, which accepts casual-language inputs on certain functions. The system includes Lexus Enform with Safety Connect (includes complimentary one-year trial subscription), Voice Command casual-language voice recognition, HD Radio with iTunes tagging and automatic Bluetooth phonebook download. The system is controlled by a new, second generation Remote Touch Interface (RTI) that is more intuitive in its design and use. The Remote Touch allows the user to operate the climate, audio, phone controls, navigation system and more. The screen menus are selected with a controller conveniently located within easy reach on the center console. Remote Touch also reduces eye movement and helps users operate functions with reduced effort and distraction.

Lexus Enform with Safety Connect now comes with the next-generation Lexus Enform Application Suite, the system that leverages the customers’ mobile phone technology to provide a new level of connectivity and information management. A complimentary one-year trial subscription is included. Users can conduct local searches through Bing, utilize voice-enabled apps to make restaurant reservations through OpenTable, get movie tickets via MovieTickets.com or tap into internet radio, including Pandora and iHeartRadio.

Users will also appreciate the ability to check-in on Facebook and search for various business reviews, including restaurants on Yelp. SiriusXM data services offer information on stocks, traffic, weather, sports and fuel prices. Enform is supported on iPhone, Android and Blackberry. SiriusXM data services offer a complimentary one-year trial subscription. Separate audio and data subscriptions are required.

PERFORMANCE

We’ve tested many SUVs that lack in performance, but that is clearly not the case with the 2013 Lexus RX 350 F SPORT, as this bad boy can get it! The RX 350 F SPORT teams a 3.5-liter V6 engine with an eight-speed Electronically Controlled Transmission with intelligence (ECT-i) for an output of 270 horsepower at 6,200 rpm. Dual Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) is used to control both intake and exhaust camshafts independently; optimizing engine performance at many speeds and loads. The RX 350 F SPORT’s eight-speed automatic transmission has paddle shifters as standard equipment. It yields quick shifting response with help from miniature high-flow linear solenoids that allow more precise clutch operation. The torque converter uses a low-speed lockup damper to enable lock-up from first to eighth gear to help improve the fuel economy.

The RX 350 F SPORT model features an electronically controlled Active Torque Control AWD system. Active Torque Control AWD uses an electronically controlled coupling ahead of the rear differential to vary torque distribution anywhere from 100:0 to 50:50 front to rear, depending on driving dynamics and road conditions. When accelerating, or starting off on a low-grip surface, torque is quickly provided to all four wheels. At steady speeds, torque is sent only to the front wheels, enhancing fuel efficiency. The model is expected to earn EPA ratings of 19 mpg city, 25 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined. The F SPORT suspension provides firmer shocks and springs for a more engaging driving experience. A unique lateral performance damper system absorbs and minimizes body vibrations, resulting in a more linear steering feel and enhanced ride comfort. In lieu of conventional fixed bracing, this system features a front performance damper and a rear damper connecting the left and right sides of the rear structural frame. The eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters allows for more driver input while increasing fuel efficiency.

VDIM handling technology is standard on the RX 350 AWD F SPORT. VDIM anticipates loss of vehicle control and governs all of the vehicle’s dynamic handling systems – the Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Brake Assist (BA), Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Traction Control (TRAC) – with the electronic throttle control system. The system employs them collectively and seamlessly to help make corrections while allowing higher dynamic capability.

The RX F SPORT is exclusively equipped with 19-inch split five-spoke wheels with 235/55R/19 tires that are stunning and eye-catching, as you can’t help but notice others glaring at your rims!

OVERVIEW

With a sticker price of $51,729 as tested, you have to drop some coin to own the 2013 Lexus RX 350 F SPORT, but with all of the style, performance and luxury built in to this machine, only those who desire the “complete package” need to test drive. Once you enter the cabin and get behind the sleek and most comfortable steering wheel of the RX SPORT, you will also become a fan of this new age luxury ride.

  

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