While it might not be the newest by age, design or model year, we can confidently state the latest addition to our KBB.com long-term vehicle test fleet does a stellar job of hiding the fact that it has nearly 20,000 miles on its clock. A graduate in good standing of the rigorous Lexus Certified Pre Owned (CPO) program -- recently rebranded L/Certified -- this pristine 2015 Lexus RX 350 AWD F Sport looks, sounds and feels pretty much the same as it did the day it rolled off the assembly line. Rather than jump on the all-new 2016 RX bandwagon, we decided to experience the previous generation as a model that a consumer can find on dealer lots today.

Also: Class of 2016 -- New Cars Ready to Roll

Perpetual best-selling model in the Lexus lineup, the midsize RX earned its well-deserved status by being a sophisticated, 5-passenger luxury crossover that’s easy to drive, easy to live with and merits high marks for comfort and utility -- all facets of its personality we plan to explore in the coming months. Although the all-new 2016 Lexus RX admittedly offers some notable advances with much edgier styling, there’s still plenty to admire about the Gen III version from its 270-horsepower V6 and paddle-shift 8-speed automatic transmission to accommodating  seating and generous cargo space which are complemented in this case by more aggressive styling cues and tauter suspension tuning of the F Sport spec.

Certified value and enhanced confidence

The growth of CPO programs represents an opportunity for budget-conscious consumers to get into a nearly new vehicle that promises reliability backed with excellent warranty benefits. At the same time, they minimize the impact of new vehicle depreciation. Last year, nearly 2.4 million customers opted for CPO vehicles in the U.S. and those numbers continue to rise. Even though Lexus trails Mercedes-Benz and BMW in the CPO realm among luxury makes, the division still enjoyed a 5th consecutive year of healthy growth in 2015 with the RX Series accounting for 32,688 of its 85,719 total L/Certified sales/leases.

Also: Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Awards of 2016

Every manufacturer with a CPO program sets its own specific qualification requirements, which we’ve detailed in our Complete Guide to Manufacturer Certified Pre-Owned Car Programs. Not surprisingly, Lexus has one of the top-rated regimens, although the extra peace of mind it brings typically can add $2,000-$3,000 to the purchase price compared to an identical non-CPO alternative. To qualify for L/Certified status, a candidate must be less than six model years old with fewer than 70,000 miles on the odometer and undergo a rigorous 161-point bumper-to-bumper inspection to ensure its cosmetics are right and everything is in proper working order. Passing L/Certified muster makes a Lexus vehicle eligible for a 2-year/unlimited-mileage warranty extension following the expiration of the standard Lexus 4-year/50,000-mile new-vehicle Basic Warranty -- or for two years from the CPO purchase date.

Also: 2016 Subcompact SUV Comparison Test

Other L/Certified benefits include a loaner car/trip interruption coverage, 24/7 roadside assistance, 2-years/20,000-miles of complementary routine maintenance and a zero-deductible on all warranted repairs. As for hard numbers, our 2015 RX 350 AWD F Sport -- which bottom-lined at $53,355 when equipped with the Navigation Package, Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound Audio and Blind Spot Monitor -- carries a typical dealer asking price in L/Certified guise of $45,776. That compares to its current KBB Fair Market Range valuation of $40,923 to $44,328.

Gearing up for adventure

With less than two weeks and 500 miles in our service, there’s not a lot more to report about our like-new Lexus RX 350 at this point. It recorded a 21.6-mpg first-tank average over a 320-mile, slightly freeway biased stint against a 21-mpg EPA combined rating and the dutiful in-vehicle monitor has begun notifying us that maintenance will be required soon. However, we suspect that caveat is merely a reflection of its basic 20,000-mile servicing regimen. Beyond that, the RX 350 F Sport long-termer appears ready to deliver on its L/Certified promise. We’ll be chronicling the life and times of KBB’s newest long-termer on a regular basis, so be sure to check back for updates.

More 2015 Lexus RX…

See a full review and pricing information on the 2015 Lexus RX or check out its 5-Year Cost to Own.


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