If you’re looking for a flashy crossover to make a scene at your local scene, keep on driving. Although the Lexus RX essentially invented the mid-size luxury crossover market, and still dominates, it’s not about flash. And that’s exactly what makes it so cool: its luxury takes you away from it all.
But being understated doesn’t mean you can’t be a little sexy—take a look at the RX350’s new spindle grille. The automobile’s tall hatchback crossover style is so familiar that it’s easy to forget the RX virtually originated it in the late 1990s. LED running lamps, 18-inch alloys and chiselled bodysides are very modern.
Inside, luxurious curves are enhanced with genuine wood trim and layers of stitched coverings. Typical in a Lexus, seats are heated, ventilated and upholstered in soft leather. The steering wheel is not heated, but it is crafted from wood and leather. Four passengers ride in supreme comfort after lodging their luggage into the rear through a power hatch.
Once you’re buckled in, tap into the infotainment system. A mouse-style controller allows easy access to navigation and the 12-speaker audio system with SiriusXM satellite radio, USB and Bluetooth. Lexus Enform adds NavTraffic, NavWeather, stock prices, sports scores and even local fuel prices. Actual knobs for volume and tuning make basic functions incredibly simple. Safety is enhanced with a backup camera, radar-guided cruise control and a Forward Collision Warning system.
Like the rest of the car, the powertrain, you might say, is smoother than a drag queen’s legs. To tame slick freeways and curves, put your heel into the throttle and whisk away with the 201 kW/270 horsepower 3.5-litre V6 purring through a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. Resist the temptation to extract maximum joy, and you’ll use 13.3/9.8 litres/100km city/hwy.
If you’re looking for a crossover to race down back roads, go try a BMW X3 or Audi Q5. The Lexus RX350 handles well and soaks up rough pavement like an aluminum sponge, but the smooth ride is aimed more toward comfortable cruising than athletic handling. The cabin is remarkably quiet, ideal for noisy commutes. Expect to pay at least $50,600 for the privilege of owning the RX350.
2015 Lexus RX350
Five-passenger, AWD crossover
Powertrain 201kW/270hp 3.5-litre V6, 6-spd. auto transmission
Suspension f/r ind/ind
Wheels 18 inch/18 inch alloy f/r
Brakes disc/disc fr/rr
Must-have features Refinement, performance
Fuel economy 13.3/9.8 litres/100km city/hwy
Base price $50,600
A contributing writer for Gaywheels.com, Casey Williams is a frequent business traveller to Montreal. He contributes to the New York-based LGBT magazine Metrosource and the Chicago Tribune. He and his husband live in Indianapolis, where Williams is a columnist for that city’s newspaper, the Star.