2016 Lexus RX Review: Racy Styling and Practicality Rolled Up into a Luxury Crossover

The redesigned 2016 Lexus RX luxury crossover has racy styling, practicality and a hybrid economy version.

2016 Lexus RX

The RX has been the top-selling Lexus for years. The more rakish and plusher redesigned 2016 Lexus RX, shown at a media preview here in the Raleigh, NC area, should further enhance the popular crossover SUV’s reputation and increase its sales.

2016 LEXUS RX 350

Engine Power Torque Transmission MSRP
3.5L DOHC V6 295 hp 267 lb-ft 8-speed automatic $41,900

For starters, the longer new four-door hatchback RX body has a dramatic mix of sharp creases and curves. The front end is lower, and blacked-out rear roof pillars provide a “floating-roof” effect never seen on a Lexus. Even the large dual exhaust outlets are artfully shaped.

The RX is more rigidly built and is church-quiet, even at 80 mile-per-hour highway cruising speeds.

2016 Lexus RX F Sport

However, Lexus retains its large, polarizing spindle grille, which has a chrome-plated border and triple L-shape LED headlights.

Door openings are wide and their handles are large, but it takes extra effort to get in or out of the RX because of its high floor. Once inside, though, occupants have an excellent view of surroundings.

The RX is billed as a five-occupant vehicle, but only four adults fit comfortably.

2016 Lexus RX interior

The hatch opening is wide but rather high. The cargo area is fairly large, and rear seatbacks flip forward to increase cargo capacity.But they don’t sit completely flat when folded forward.

The improved interior is more upscale, with convenient console cupholders. Front seats are supportive in curves, and even rear seats provide good support. But door pockets are too shallow for convenient use of larger objects.

For years, Lexus was known for its conservative looks, which suited most luxury buyers just fine. But many have been older buyers, and Lexus is looking to grab younger (or younger-at-heart) ones with the new RX, which lists from $41,900 to $57,045.

2016 Lexus RX

The standard RX 350 model comes with front or all-wheel drive (AWD). It’s powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 with 295 horsepower. Then there’s the RX 450h with a hybrid gas/electric drive system utilizing a 3.5-liter V-6 and a hybrid battery. Total system horsepower is 308, and you can also get it with AWD.

The RX 450h hybrid actually is a bit faster than the RX 350 with its straight gas engine (0-60 m.p.h. in 7 seconds compared to 7.7 for the RX 350). No matter what drivetrain, both cars sound pretty much alike during hard acceleration.

A smooth, responsive eight-speed transmission comes with the RX 350, while the 450h hybrid has a CVT automatic, which works seamlessly.

2016 Lexus RX 450h F Sport

The RX 350 gets an estimated 20 mpg in the city and 28 on highways with rear-drive and 19 and 26 with AWD. The RX 450h’s economy figures are 31 and 30 with front drive and 30 and 28 with AWD.

I drove all versions of the new RX at the media preview and found the racier looking F Sport model to have the best handling, although the RX 350 has decent handling and can be had with the adaptive variable suspension option that has “eco,” “normal” or “sport” modes. The F Sport trim, only available on RX models that have AWD, has a firmer suspension for flatter cornering and sharpens the feel of the car.

No matter what model or suspension setup, all RX models have the smooth ride expected of a Lexus and linear brake pedal action. The steering is quick, but feels dull.

2016 Lexus RX F Sport tachometer
RX F Sport tachometer in Sport mode

For RX models equipped with the optional Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) system there’s an all-out Sport S+ setting that offers a higher level of performance with aggressive throttle mapping, quicker drivetrain response and flatter cornering.

New for 2016, is the F Sport trim available to the RX 450h hybrid with AWD. It has exclusive quilted sport seats special steering wheel, sportier interior and drilled aluminum pedals.

Outside is a blacked-out mesh grille, lower spoiler section, black side mirrors and revised front fascia, besides exclusive 20-inch spoked aluminum alloy wheels.

The F Sport has no power increase but handling benefits partly from the Adaptive Variable Suspension system and the 20-inch wheels.

2016 Lexus RX

I found it a little difficult to quickly read the somewhat gimmicky F Sport’s circular gauge that combines a tachometer and digital speedometer.

However, most RX controls are clearly marked and easy to use. It’s nice to have convenient dashboard volume and tune controls for the audio system. A 12-inch center display is offered. An eight-inch unit is standard.

The standard audio system consists of HD Radio™, Bluetooth® audio, micro SD card slot, nine speakers, and an 8-inch display.There’s also an available 12-speaker Pioneer audio system, which includes uprated 18 centimeter woofers in the front door and a 20 centimeter subwoofer with Coherent Source Transducer (CST) technology that offer high quality sound reproduction in the mid-to-high range as well as boosting low tones.

2016 Lexus RX interior

The available 15-speaker Mark Levinson Premium Surround System is the one to get for discerning audiophiles. Its advanced Clari-Fi™ compressed music restoration technology improves the overall sound quality of compressed audio sources such as MP3. Mark Levinson engineers worked closely with Lexus development teams and the end result is a deep, refined sound stage with lush tones and excellent dynamics.

Luxury automakers seem to be trying to outdo each other with driving aid and safety features, and Lexus is no exception with the RX.

Such items include dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, vehicle sway warning, intuitive parking assist, panoramic view monitor, intelligent high-beam system and blind spot monitor with rear-cross-traffic alert.

  • Buy itOn the TFLcar scale of:
  • Buy it!
  • Lease it!
  • Rent it!
  • … or Forget it!

I give the 2016 Lexus RX an enthusiastic Buy It! rating for its rakish redesigned exterior, roomy and plush interior, smooth ride, and available AWD.

The TFL Car team had a chance to drive the 2016 Lexus RX 350. Here is sneak peak video that has all the important stuff you want to know about the redesigned RX.