Having given birth to the midsize luxury crossoverSUV segment, the Lexus RX continues to reign supreme, offering a combination of quality, luxury, reliability and resale that buyers flock to again and again. Despite a huge onslaught of competitors, none seem to have nailed the RX's formula for success. Fresh from a complete redo last year, the RX for 2014 continues to impress with its comfortable ride and finely crafted cabin filled with numerous luxury amenities. The spacious cabin is more flexible than in any sedan, and the tall ride height provides a commanding view of the road yet isn't so high up that it requires a stepladder. The broad RX model range includes a fuel-efficient hybrid gasoline-electric model and enthusiast-oriented F Sport.
You'll Like This Car If...
If you're set on a moderately sized luxury SUV, but put off by the stiff ride common on so many luxury cars these days, take the 2014 Lexus RX for a spin. A smooth ride, good handling and a whisper-quiet interior make this the perfect choice, as do the RX's excellent service and resale reputation.
You May Not Like This Car If...
If you're looking for performance ride and handling, even the F Sport may not cut it. Those seeking diesel-power will have to look to Audi, Mercedes and BMW to get their fix, while those who plan to venture off-road will be happier with a Land Rover.
Changes for the 2014 Lexus RX are limited to some package upgrades and the availability of Siri Eyes Free technology. Available with iPhone 4S and above, this technology enables Siri to voice-control your music selection, text messages and navigation all through the car's audio system.
Driving the RX
Good handling shouldn't come at the expense of a comfortable ride, which is exactly why we like the 2014 Lexus RX so much. Rough patches and expansion joints are quickly...
... dispatched, yet the RX's steering and ability to negotiate turns are still well within the limits of reason. Razor-sharp steering and a taut suspension are not what the RX is all about, but if you are, there is the F Sport model that tightens things up quite a bit. Passengers will appreciate the impressive rear-seat legroom and the copious cargo storage that includes numerous bins and cubbies. From a performance standpoint, the RX is not particularly quick, making the 0-60 run in just 7.7 seconds. Front-wheel drive is standard in the RX 350 and RX 450h hybrid, with all-wheel drive standard on F Sport models and optional on the others.
POWER REAR DOOR When you're juggling groceries, kids and keys, you quickly run out of limbs and digits for opening doors. For the 2014, a power opening-and-closing rear door is standard on the Lexus RX. If only those groceries would load and unload themselves with the touch of a button.
REMOTE TOUCH CONTROLLER Think of this available console-mounted controller as a computer mouse for the car. With it, you can control commands for navigation and more on the center screen.
2014 Lexus RX Details
The RX's cabin is warm, polished and cozy, but not quite as sophisticated as some European rivals. Still, amenities abound, from the plush seats to the power tilt and telescoping steering wheel. Starting and stopping the Lexus is done with the press of a button, and even the base audio unit is impressive with its nine speakers. Rear passenger legroom is good, and the 40/20/40-folding rear seat is able to recline and slide to accommodate people or cargo. Likewise, the innovative storage bin up front slides and has dual power outlets. With the rear seats folded, cargo capacity expands to an impressive 80.3 cubic feet.
The 2014 RX takes on a more aggressive nature with its signature grille, but the rest of the SUV is similar both to past designs and its many imitators. From the side, the Lexus is defined by its steeply-sloped rear window line. That sloping motif then extends to its nicely-angled rear. Hybrid models are distinguished with a subtle blue-hued L Lexus badge in front. The RX rides on 18-inch wheels, and F Sport models are on 19-inchers. It all adds up to a pretty if not cutting-edge profile, which should please the majority of buyers.
Even a base 2014 Lexus RX 350 boasts plenty of luxury touches and comfort amenities to make day-to-day driving easier and more enjoyable. Dual-zone automatic climate control, power rear door, power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, 10-way power driver's seat and 9-speaker premium AM/FM/satellite audio unit with 6-disc changer and auxiliary input are all included. F Sport models include heated and ventilated front seats, leather trim and roof rails. F Sport and RX 450h Hybrid models also feature the Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management system for improved traction control.
The Lexus RX can further be upgraded with packages that bundle items such as color LCD display, dual-screen rear entertainment system, navigation, Siri Eyes Free, a rear backup camera, 12-speaker audio system and the Lexus Enform suite with apps for everything from streaming music on Pandora to making restaurant reservations with OpenTable. Leather seating is also optional, as is a heated wood-and-leather-trimmed steering wheel and a 115-volt outlet (standard on F Sport). Those who spend copious amounts of time crawling in traffic should consider the smog-sensing automatic recirculating climate system.
Under the Hood
The Lexus RX 350 for 2014 utilizes a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 270 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque. The engine is linked to a 6-speed automatic transmission that uses direct-downshift control to allow for quick shifting when needed (such as rapid acceleration) from sixth to third, or fifth to second, skipping gears for a more immediate response. The fuel-efficient RX 450h hybrid combines the same V6 engine with an electric motor for higher power (295 horsepower channeled through a continuously-variable automatic transmission) and efficiency (32 mpg in the city for the front-wheel-drive RX 450h, 30 mpg in the all-wheel-drive form). The RX 350 F Sport adds no horsepower but does have two additional gears in its 8-speed transmission. Maximum towing capacity is 3,500 pounds for models equipped with the prep package.
3.5-liter V6 + 123-kW electric motor (RX 450h) 245 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm (gasoline engine alone) Total system horsepower: 295 234 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm (gasoline engine) EPA city/highway fuel economy: 32/28 mpg (front-wheel drive), 30/28 mpg (AWD)
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for a base 2014 Lexus RX 350 with front-wheel drive is just over $40,500. All-wheel drive adds $1,400. Hybrid RX 450h models start just over $47,000, and RX 350 F Sport models starts just under $48,500. A fully-loaded RX can reach the mid-$50,000 mark. Competitors in this midsize luxury crossover SUV segment, which include the Mercedes-Benz GLK, BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Lincoln MKX, have similar pricing. The Acura RDX and Cadillac SRX, meanwhile, are less. Be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for the 2014 RX. As for resale value, the Lexus RX is at the top of its segment, outpacing the Q5, X3, GLK and SRX in the long run.
"This is my second hybrid vehicle, the first being a 2008 Rx400h FWD. Lexus gets a lot of things right in their vehicles but they are pretty conservative when it comes to adopting new technology, which is my biggest complaint. My next vehicle will definitely have some options that weren't available in June 2013 unless I wanted to wait another 3-4 months: adaptive cruise, blind spot, lane change, cross traffic alert, pre-collision alert (a lot of the safety features available on other makes). MSRP on my Rx450h was $61K - a bit on the pricey side.
Bottom line: I will probably buy another Rx450h in a year or 2. I'd really like to try a Tesla Model S P85 but the price tag is just too high.
The AWD hybrid experience: The Rx450h is a pleasure to drive. It has good acceleration with electric motor assist up to about 20 mph. The electric motors kick in during normal driving which do help MPG. If you drive it like you would any other vehicle the MPG won't be great. The AWD version has a sticker average of 29 for combined city/highway driving but you need to baby it a bit to get that. Ignoring any change in driving habit still yields 27-28 in my experience, which is 2X what my 2007 Chevy Suburban was getting. (That was my primary justification for the hybrid.) Another nice feature is how quiet this thing is when at a stop light. Assuming the hybrid battery is not low on charge the engine will shut down and run on just the battery, making the vehicle very quiet. All you will hear is the AC fan and the radio. It takes a little getting used to for someone who is "aware" of your car's noises when you feel the engine shut down. Most all vehicle systems are electric. One important implication of this is that when the engine shuts off the AC continues cooling like it would on the highway with a non-hybrid vehicle. You can turn on EV (Electric Vehicle) mode and move pretty quietly as long as you stay under 25 mph and don't accelerate quickly. Around 2013 Lexus added a ghostly whining sound whenever the vehicle is moving so people can hear you coming...so much for stealth mode!
Infotainment systems: I am a tech guy and would rate this area only average. The Nav system uses a DVD for map data and was out-of-date the day I bought it. Lexus needs to update this area specifically to use more available technology like Google Map data. In the area where we live there are many areas that have built up over the past 3-5 years that show as blank spaces on the Nav map where whole neighborhoods and new schools now exist. Upgrading the map DVD costs about $200 which I also think is ridiculous given that you can pull out your smart phone and have a map app show you exactly where you are and where you need to go. I also detest the waypoint instructions in the system. Every time you near a major exit on a freeway it pops up instructions to go straight. I'm not stupid and have turned off all voice communication when I'm using the Nav guidance because it's just annoying to hear "in 1 mile continue going straight." There needs to be an option to turn off those waypoints and just tell me turns and exits.
My biggest beef with the Lexus system is that it literally disables every useful thing you can do when the vehicle is in motion. About the only thing it lets you do is change the radio station. OK, I'm exaggerating, but only slightly. You can't scroll thru previous destinations or your address book, you can't change the destination or even go to an eDestination folder (like an online address book you setup) that is on the next screen. Consequently I have to use the Lexus Destination Assist and have one of their humans download the address I need, even tho I have it already in one of my folders. And, of course, Dest Assist has an annual subscription fee. I will say that I have become spoiled and use it quite a bit to find restaurants and other locations but I could just as easily live with the BlueLink system in my wife's 2015 Hyundai Sonata where you just say a destination name, it looks it up somehow and presents the address on the Nav screen.
An annoying tech limitation is the number of phone contacts it will download when you connect via BT. The limit is 1,000 which sounds like a lot unless you have 2500 contacts in your phone. The 1,000 contact limit also restricts you to 3 phone numbers per contact. If you have 4 phone numbers it requires 2 contact slots. When I first discovered this limitation I talked to the tech guru at the dealership who thought they should be able to raise the limit because they weren't using even a third of the hard drive space in the system. He raised the issue with engineering 3 years ago and nothing has happened since. The result is that I can only voice dial about a third of my contacts.
Other features: One option I really like is the Heads-Up Display. While pricey, it does present animated Nav info on the windshield so you don't have to glance down at the main display. It also shows speed and drive gear (not sure how useful that is) as well as radio info whenever you change stations. I would like to see a lot more info in the HUD or the ability to select what I want to see. I would love to have the power meter up there because when you're trying to keep the vehicle running on battery that's the only indicator of when you're about to engage the engine.
Driving experience: My only complaint about drivability is road noise. Wind noise is pretty acceptable but road noise definitely detracts from the highway driving experience. Obviously blacktop roads are quieter than concrete. The vehicle needs a lot of additional soundproofing for the highway. The speed-controlled-volume setting does not do much in the ON position to overcome road noise. In fact, I can't really tell much difference at all and have to manually adjust radio volume to overcome the road noise."
"Having driven a large, luxurious Cadillac previously, the luxury and comfort of this fine vehicle are somewhat downplayed in my mind. It has never given me any mechanical problems, drives well, has decent gas mileage and is reasonably quiet. The all-wheel drive helps during Lake Michigan snows and it is an all around solid car. Not exciting, but a good, long-term value."