DETROIT—Now into its 16th year, the Lexus RX has a become a mainstay in the luxury SUV category.
Not a bad claim to fame for one of the few luxury SUVs to be manufactured in Canada (Ford builds its highly-rated Lincoln MKX in Oakville, Ont.).
RX models destined for the North American market are manufactured at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada’s South Plant in Cambridge, Ont.—the only Lexus manufacturing facility outside of Japan.
Lexus, which is Toyota’s luxury brand, hasn’t strayed far from the successful formula it initiated with the very first RX.
Styling inside and out is not garish or showy, but the leather is soft enough to impress and shiny wood trim looks real.
Power from the current 3.5-litre, four cam V-6 comes on smoothly and steadily. In all but the most aggressive driving, shifts from the automatic transmission are not noticeable. There’s decent low-end “oomph” when starting up from a stop.
But the RX 350’s peak torque of 248 foot-pounds at 4,700 rpm is less than what some competitors offer. There are 280 foot-pounds of torque at 4,000 rpm in the Lincoln MKX and 251 foot-pounds of torque at 5,000 rpm in the Acura RDX.
The suspension muted many road bumps, but the ride was not overly compliant. The interior was quiet for easy conversing.
Most controls are easy to find and easy to operate. The test 2015 RX 350 was one of the easiest to connect to an Android cellphone, and it didn’t take a lot of looking through menus on a display screen to accomplish the linkup.
But the position of the gated gear shift lever—angled out from the bottom middle of the dashboard—took some practice to get into “Drive.” Plus, the centre console sits up a good bit between the front seats and can impinge on knee room.
Other controls, such as for mirrors and windows, and the audio and ventilation controls are in familiar locations and have good-sized buttons. So, it does not take a lot of time to get inside the RX 350, get situated and then drive away.
The RX 350 test SUV included a rectangular “mouse” that was fixed to part of the centre console. A resting place for a person’s hand was just behind it to provide some bracing when the mouse control is moved. But the space devoted to the mouse and the hand resting spot meant only two cupholders were available for open, visible storage.
A protruding brow above the Rx 350 display screen nicely kept sunlight from washing it out.
For 2015, all RX models come with standard 7-inch display screen and backup monitor.
The RX 350 has 40 cubic feet of flat cargo space behind the rear seats. Because the cargo floor is up near knee level on most people, and there’s not a large protruding back bumper, even a short stature driver can get items inside and still be able to reach them later.
In fact, the test RX 350 accommodated two stuffed computer bags, plus two roll-aboard pieces of luggage and several shopping bags behind the seats without a problem.
One lever at the side of the second-row seats moves the seatbacks down, expanding cargo room to 80.3 cubic feet, which is more than what’s in the MKX and RDX.
Towing capacity in the RX 350 is 3,500 pounds.