For 2019, there haven’t been many changes to the RX 350 F Sport from the 2018 or even 2017 model years. It remains a strong seller for Lexus and a great all-around vehicle. Inside, the F Sport trim adds a variety of interior pieces from the pedals and steering wheel to the F Sport leather trim and seats.
Outside, the F Sport gets a nice set of 20-inch rims and a couple of F Sport badges. Performance wise, there aren’t any substantial changes.
It still uses the 295 hp V6 that all other RX 350’s use, however, the F Sport does get variable front damping and reprogramming for throttle sensitivity, and the shift points when different drive modes are selected.
Open the door to an F Sport trimmed Lexus and you are greeted by beautiful, deep red leather seats. Sitting in the F Sport specific heated and ventilated front seats is also comfortable and very supportive. For larger people, the extra bolstering in the F Sport seats will likely be less comfortable than the standard seats, but for the average person these seats are great.
For the driver, there are a variety of systems and options that make the RX a joy to drive. The HUD (Heads Up Display) is very easy to see, yet unobtrusive. The brightness is easily adjusted, and the information displayed can be configured to the driver’s preferences. Even on the brightest of days, the HUD clearly shows up on the windshield. There are three memory seat settings for households with multiple drivers. The steering wheel is heated, but only at the three and nine o’clock positions.
We expected the whole leather wrapped wheel to be heated. The steering wheel is fully adjustable in, out, up and down, and the pedals are also adjustable. Creating the best driving position should be easy for most people. Even the location of the HUD on the windshield is easily adjustable so that the reflection of the projector off the windshield meets the eyes of drivers at any height.
Lexus has been using the Enform infotainment system for a while now, and it still takes some time to get adjusted to the controls. The screen is not a touch screen and is mostly controlled by the mouse. This keeps the screen clean and free from greasy fingerprints but can also be frustrating to use for those not experienced with the system. For someone purchasing this vehicle and driving it regularly, getting adjusted shouldn’t be an issue.
As expected from Lexus, the interior is very nicely appointed with high-quality leather everywhere. The optional panoramic sun roof brightens up the interior and makes the back seat feel more open. While not a feature that determines if a car is worth purchasing, having a place to store sunglasses can be very important. Some vehicles don’t have a designated place at all while others have a place to store a pair of flat folding aviator sunglasses. For those who prefer sunglasses that wrap around at the edges, and actually shield your eyes from the sun from the sides, there aren’t many options to accommodate you. The RX does.
The rear seats are quite comfortable with the same leather as the fronts. However, they are somewhat lacking in power ports, with a single 12-volt outlet below the vents on the rear of the front center console.
On the Outside
Let’s start with the controversial front end. Lexus has done an excellent job of creating a polarizing grill with the hourglass, spindle, or predator shape, whatever you want to call it. We find it to be a bit oversized, but many people like that. The rest of the front end is less polarizing and well-integrated into the vehicle. The headlights create a smooth segue between the hood and bumper. Cooling slots in the sides of the lower bumper are topped off by LED fog lights set in triangular shaped openings.
Moving to the sides, there are sharp creases that flow from the grill to the tail lights. The F Sport rims and small F Sport badge are the only things that set the F Sport trim apart from other models. The deep tint on the rear windows allows for the black trim to flow from the rear side doors to the rear hatch for a smooth seamless look. The roofline is adorned with polished aluminum roof rails and a rear spoiler for a sporty look.
Looking at the RX from behind shows off the aggressive tail lights with two red bars that flow from the rear quarter panels onto the rear hatch. The dual exhaust exits through large rectangular openings at the bottom of the bumper, with red reflectors on the corners just above them. Up top, the rear spoiler houses the third brake light, which is a little hard to see unless illuminated.
The rear hatch can be opened hands free, but it’s quite finicky. Your hand must be placed over the Lexus emblem, but about 1 to 2 inches away from it and held steady. If you’re too close, too far, or waving, the sensor won’t activate to open the hatch. This hands-free feature can be nice, but it’s not super easy to use when you want to use it most, like when your hands are full of groceries.
How it Drives
The F Sport package is an attempt by Lexus to attract younger buyers. Moving away from a soft and floaty suspension to a sportier setup and adding some more visually aggressive interior and exterior bits helps Lexus accomplish that goal. The ride is firmer than expected from a Lexus, but the RX 350 F Sport remains level in the corners and handles very well.
There are four different driving modes for the F Sport: Eco, Normal, Sport, and Sport+. The different modes adjust transmission, throttle, and front damper tuning. Eco mode is the least aggressive and will even adjust other things like climate control to promote fuel economy. Sport+ is the most aggressive, but the throttle and transmission shifts were still smooth. The dash gauges also change to accentuate the tachometer in the sport modes.
Our test model was the AWD version, which automatically sends power between the front and rear wheels as needed. There is even a display to show which wheels are receiving power and how much. The AWD model comes with a button to fully lock the center differential so that power is split 50/50 front to rear. It will automatically disengage at around 20 mph. This is a good feature to have for driving in slippery conditions like snow and ice.
Who should buy the RX 350 F Sport? Anyone looking for a reliable luxury vehicle that is sporty yet smooth and refined, all while getting decent fuel mileage. Once you get used to how everything works, there are few shortcomings in the RX. The RX is the highest selling luxury vehicle in the United States, and for good reason.
Matthew Barnes is an experienced towing expert. He works as a mechanical engineer and his day job involves testing a variety of vehicles while towing trailers of all types and sizes. Matt shares his knowledge by writing for automotive news outlets in the evenings. When he’s not working he can be found spending time in the great outdoors with his family. He enjoys camping, hiking, canyoneering, and backpacking. Whenever possible he spends time riding in or on any power sports vehicle he can find and claims he can drive anything with a motor, which probably isn’t true.