The price: $85,400 plus on-road costs
Nanjing Night Net

Vital statistics: 3.5-litre V6; 204kW/346Nm; 6-sp auto; 10.8L/100km and 254g/km CO2; AWD

He: Lexus has served up an evolutionary update on its RX SUV. We’re having a look at the performance-focused RX350 F-Sport variant. What were the first impressions, Deb? 

She: You know how once you’re driving one, you see more of them on the road? Suddenly I was seeing RXs on every city corner – but this new F-Sport ought to stand out for its unique grille, bumper, lower spoiler and dark chrome 19-inch alloys. Then there’s the sheer size of this SUV, which throws me. 

He: It’s certainly big enough for a family of five and all their gear, but the flip side of all that capacity is a slightly ponderous persona that’s at odds with the sporty label. It’s quite tall and feels it in corners, in spite of the firm F-Sport suspension that can be uncomfortable on a typically lumpy stretch of back road or sharp urban corrugations. 

She: Yep, on city streets, the ride is not as agreeable as you might expect from an RX. But the big, dark-leather seats are supremely comfortable. My two passengers in the back quickly commented on how roomy it feels, with ample legroom and headroom and bench width to fit a third adult, and the fact the sunroof on our test vehicle had minimal down-draft. 

He: It’s equipped with a 3.5-litre V6 that’s well matched to the bulk in responsiveness and flexibility, but it seems there’s a significant downside – fuel consumption. 

She: Fuel use isn’t good. I averaged 12.1 litres/100 kilometres in urban driving conditions – actually better than the claimed urban consumption by 2.6 litres. By comparison, in town (where these soft-roaders live), the more fuel-efficient, four-cylinder RX270 does not feel underpowered. So this variant doesn’t make sense to me. What do you make of it? 

He: I landed on 11.8L/100km, and that’s after a highway-dominated run. If you’re doing serious kays, the $4500-more-expensive RX450h with its petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain looks more attractive. 

She: What does appeal with the entire RX range is the reputation for quality materials and reliability. Then there’s the long equipment list (to compensate for lack of character in the driving experience, perhaps?) including eight-inch colour display with satnav, reversing camera, powered tailgate (I like that), Bluetooth audio streaming, a quality 12-speaker sound system and a ”remote touch” control system using a computer mouse-style toggle. 

He: Lexuses are always well appointed compared with their European rivals that focus on getting you to spend up big on the options list. Still, I couldn’t help but feel this cabin hasn’t moved that far forward from the previous generation. There’s a few design elements to the dash I felt looked a bit old hat.

She: Some of the bling makes it look a bit trapped in the 1990s. We should note that vision is pretty good. So would you part with about $85K for this big Lexus?

He: The price is very enticing against its European rivals, especially if you forgo the F-Sport touches and buy the $8000-cheaper Luxury model. But it’s hard to beat the Mercedes-Benz ML250 diesel for a great all-round package for economy and higher-quality feel. What about you?

She: I far prefer the way the BMW X5 xDrive30d drives (and sips on fuel). From the Lexus range, the greener RX450h could also work out more economical in the long run.

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