By Matt Degen
KBB Expert Rating: 7.0
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.
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.
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.
KBB Expert Ratings
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.
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.
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.
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 (RX 350, F Sport)
270 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
248 lb-ft of torque @ 4,700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25 mpg (FWD), 18/24 mpg (AWD) 18/26 mpg (F Sport)
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.