he word aggressive might be an understatement when it comes to describing Lexus’s RX F. It’s a rugged, yet sleek looking CUV thanks a signature grille and the dark graphite wheels that measure 19-inches in circumference. Put more succinctly this RX F is a killer looking sport ute that turns heads and excites even those – me included – that have long dismissed larger vehicles.
Powering the RX F is a 270 HP turbo charged 4-cylinder engine. It won’t kick start your heart, but from a stand still it produces a respectable amount of anticipation and forward momentum for a car of its size. Up to speed and the RX F sports handles admirably. It only gets better as the car is driven more aggressively, though with that comes a rather sharp ride that isn’t always comfort inducing and plays contrary to Lexus’s general reserved like quality. Moreover, and before we go any further, I should tell you that the RX F’s powertrain is the same as found int he RX350.
So what are you paying all this extra cash for? To stand apart. Well, that’s an oversimplification, but I’m glad to pay a premium if it means I don’t blend in with the thousands of sheep already on the road. Bold stylings, mesh grille and 19-inches wheels aside, the RX F is fairly well appointed, provided you can draw your eyes away from the slightly dated looking center console, which can be attributed largely to the yellow Lexus badge slapped on top of a plastic.
Center to, well, the center stack, is Lexus’s infotainment complete with haptic feedback powered mouse control derived from the LFA, a $300,000 supercar. Auto journalists have long lamented about the system, but I found it refreshingly profound and intuitive despite the rather dated looking graphics. Replacing the now traditional knob or touchscreen systems, is a mouse that allows drivers to drag a point. When an option or an app is selected the system provides resistance indicating that you’re not floating in empty space. This, along with the mouse like form factor, makes it very easy to concentrate on both the road and what is happening on the screen.
Lexus’s Enform App for the smartphone adds additional functionality to the infotainment system, allowing you to connect your iHeartradio and Pandora accounts to the vehicle. I’m an avid Pandora user – when I’m not using Spotify – and discovered that once you’ve paired the system with your login info, you simply only need to reconnect your phone via Bluetooth to use this app. Yelp, Opentable and MovieTickets are less useful, but if interested you can read about the more here, along with the programs other features, which include a LoJack like service and Emergency Roadside assistance. Of note, the Enform service is not free, and I can’t speak to whether or note the smartphone apps will continue to work after the 1-year of complimentary service.
But what will work in perpetuity is the power lift gate, 40/20/40 split folding seats, and heated/cooled seats. That said, the heating and cooling elements aren’t on par with that of Audi’s or BMWs, and while heating is ample, cooling isn’t that detectable and with it comes an awful whining sound from the fan.
Exclusive to the RX F Sport, aside from a few styling cues and sportier rims, is a specially tuned suspension and 8-speed gearbox. While the 8-speed gearbox is nothing to write home about – it’s neither bad or amazing – the suspension seems to provide added road holding, though body sway, just by the very nature of the RX F Sport’s design, is far from negated. However I’d like to think it’s an improvement over the RX350, albeit with the caveat of less comfort through the bumps.
There’s nothing profoundly wrong or exceptionally notable about the RX F Sport. It’s bold exterior styling gives it an edge over the RX models as well as the competition. It’s unfortunate that the same aesthetics can’t be translated to the interior of the vehicle, but as the saying goes, “you can’t win them all”. That said, I’m excited to see where Lexus takes their infotainment system with regards to their mouse technology that was born alongside the LFA. At $47,000 and change the RX F sport isn’t affordable for the average CUV consumer. But trust me, that’s a good thing, since it makes this car just exclusive and affordable enough to let those who want to stand apart do so. Just remember, it’s the same powertrain as found in the RX350.