The 2015 RX is the latest in Lexus' lineage of midsize luxury crossover SUVs, a category the Lexus RX invented nearly two decades ago. Since then, a wave of competitors such as the Cadillac SRX, Acura RDX, BMW X3, Audi Q5, and Infiniti QX50 have arrived. Some offer sleeker looks, sportier handling and more sophisticated technology, but the RX continues to be the benchmark in terms of reliability, resale value, versatility and comfort. In addition to its plush driving manners, the RX stands out for its smart use of space and cargo-carrying ability. Buyers seeking sharper driving manners can find it in the F Sport version of the RX, while those with a priority on fuel efficiency can look to the Lexus RX hybrid model.
You'll Like This Car If...
If you desire a 5-passenger luxury SUV in the $40,000-$50,000 range that has comfortable and quiet driving manners, an excellent reputation for reliability, and the space to accommodate loads of shopping bags or sporting gear, it's hard to go wrong in a Lexus RX.
You May Not Like This Car If...
If you'd rather have a premium SUV that behaves like a sports car, has the ability to venture way off the beaten path or tow more than 3,500 pounds, look to one of the Lexus' European competitors or a higher-end Jeep Grand Cherokee.
All 2015 Lexus RX models include a backup camera as standard. Also, the standard audio system gains a 7-inch touch screen and ups the speaker count from 9 to 12 while replacing the in-dash 6-disc CD changer with a single-disc unit.
Driving the RX
Where other SUVs try to blend sporty handling and voracious power with their utilitarian ways, the 2015 Lexus RX makes no apologies for what it is: a comfortable everyday cruiser....
... The suspension is soft, allowing it to soak up road imperfections. This makes for a plush ride, and we don't suggest trying to corner too quickly as that isn't the RX's forte (though the F Sport does firm things up a bit). The 2015 RX's cabin is well-insulated and quiet, and visibility is very good from the driver's seat. The standard V6 engine's 270 horsepower is enough to get this midsize SUV onto the freeway without drama (0-60 mph comes in 7.7 seconds), but again, outright performance is not the RX's domain. If it's yours, rivals ranging from the Audi Q5 to the Volvo XC60 will be happy to serve up potent alternatives.
POWER REAR DOOR When you're juggling groceries, kids and keys, you quickly run out of limbs and digits for opening doors. Thankfully, 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.
SMOG-SENSING AUTOMATIC RECIRCULATION MODE If you commute on clogged freeways, you may not notice how much smog is entering your car. Thankfully the 2015 Lexus RX does, and more importantly it'll do something about it. This option detects harmful emissions from other vehicles and automatically switches the climate-control system to recirculation mode.
2015 Lexus RX Details
Wood and leather play starring roles inside the 2015 Lexus RX, but that's not what makes this luxury SUV stand out. Where the Lexus RX excels is with its ingenious cargo solutions and emphasis on passenger comfort. From rear seats that slide, recline and fold in a 40/20/40 split to the storage compartments sprinkled throughout, the Lexus puts a priority on pragmatics. Details like the pop-out bottle holder to the left of the steering wheel make this hauler extra helpful. For larger items, the 2015 RX swallows 40 cubic feet of stuff behind the rear seats, or twice that with them folded.
For its recent design refresh, the RX luxury SUV gained an edgier look with Lexus' familial "spindle" grille and LED daytime running lights, but relative to some rivals, the RX remains softer. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, however. Like the interior, the exterior design is meant for more than just style. Its sloped rear window line, for example, offers a good view out. Within the lineup, the F Sport model has 19-inch wheels (vs. the standard 18-inch), a unique bumper and badges, while the RX 450h hybrid features a blue-hued badge in front.
Inside a base 2015 Lexus RX 350, amenities that include ebony wood interior trim, dual-zone climate control, 10-way power front seats, a power-adjustable steering column, a power-operated liftgate, and the new 12-speaker audio system with USB and Bluetooth connectivity. About the only surprise in the standard-feature set is the use of fabric-trimmed seats instead of leather, which can be rectified via an option package or by electing the F Sport model. The F Sport also comes with a sport-tuned suspension for better agility. The hybrid model stands apart with bamboo interior trim and selectable drive modes (normal, sport, eco and electric).
All Lexus RX SUVs can be equipped with all-wheel drive (AWD) in place of front-wheel drive for better traction (F Sport models have AWD standard). Most other major upgrades for the 2015 RX are bundled into packages and include a navigation/infotainment system with an 8-inch high-resolution display and the Lexus Enform App Suite of smartphone apps, leather interior with heated and cooled front seats, heated wood and leather steering wheel, and a sweet-sounding Mark Levinson audio system. Rear-seat passengers can enjoy a twin-screen DVD system. Optional safety equipment includes blind-spot monitoring, a pre-collision alert system, and radar-based dynamic cruise control.
Under the Hood
The 2015 Lexus RX 350 uses a 270-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 linked to a 6-speed automatic transmission featuring direct-downshift control to allow for quick shifting when needed (such as rapid acceleration) from 6th gear to 3rd, or 5th to 2nd, skipping gears for a more immediate response. The RX 350 F Sport adds no extra horsepower, but does have two additional gears in its 8-speed transmission to eke out improved fuel economy. It also includes steering wheel-mounted paddles for manual-style shifting. The fuel-efficient RX 450h hybrid combines the same V6 engine with an electric motor for higher power channeled through a continuously variable automatic transmission and significantly greater fuel efficiency. 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 2015 Lexus RX 350 has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just over $41,700. The well-equipped F Sport model starts shy of $50,000, while the RX 450h hybrid begins at over $48,000. Loaded, a 2015 Lexus RX can reach the mid-to-high $50,000 range. At its base price, the 2015 RX 350 begins slightly above the entry prices of rivals such as the BMW X3, Audi Q5, Cadillac SRX, Lincoln MKX and Land Rover LR2. Undercutting the RX by several thousand are the Acura RDX, Infiniti QX50 and Volvo XC60, while the Mercedes-Benz M-Class begins several thousand higher. Before buying, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their Lexus RX. The Lexus RX has a superb tradition of holding its value, and the 2015 RX is predicted to follow suit as one of the best in its segment.
Pros: "car-like ride, storage and utility, gas mileage"
Cons: "Not as sporty to handle as some"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"The title of my review quotes a previous reviewer. I don't understand how this person can say Lexus's technology lags if he really owns this vehicle. The RXH has all the technology you claim it doesn't, blind spot monitoring, pre-collision, etc., albeit some at additional costs. Lexus has always been on the forefront of technology but has incorporated this so flawlessly inside their vehicles that some are not immediately noticeable. As the owner of my 4th Lexus which includes 2 LS's and my second RXH, I am surprised by your review. The newer Lexuses have a hard drive for the navi and no longer uses a DVD. It is possible to gain access to the listings in the phone book and previous destinations. You just wont be able to run through the entire nav features due to safety. Although I have been sometimes tempted to try other cars, I generally come back to Lexus because of their exceptional reliability, dealership experience for maintenance, quality, and how flawlessly everything works once you are in the car."
"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."