Gearshift: 2013 Lexus RX350 FSport

By David Goodspeed

Lexus created the luxury crossover segment when it debuted its RX some 14 years ago. For 2013, RX gets a makeover including the addition of the new “face” of Lexus and the addition of a sport model.

The new signature spindle grille leads a list of revisions for the RX lineup for 2013 that also sees fresher, sportier styling along with upgraded interiors.

The RX is offered in gas-only RX 350 and hybrid RX 450h models. The hybrid version now offers a sport mode that revises steering effort, throttle mapping, and gear shifting should drivers become a little bored with the ECO mode of operation.

Gasoline-only 350 models are powered by a 270hp 3.5-liter V-6 backed by multi-mode sequential shift eight-speed automatic transmission and is offered in front- or all-wheel drive versions with the latter receiving Active Torque Control to sense wheel spin and redistribute power to the wheels with grip up to a 50:50-split front to rear.

The RX 450h hybrid models utilize a 3.5-liter gas engine combined with electric motors and a power control unit for propulsion in electric-only, gas-only or combined modes. It is also available in FWD or AWD models with front-only models achieving 32 mpg in city driving and 28 mpg highway. For 2013, Lexus is staying with the Nickel Metal Hydride 288-volt battery pack and is located underneath the rear seat.

Our recent tester arrived in the form of the 2013 RX 350 F Sport. This is the first time the “cushy” crossover sees a sport model and for this application the F Sport package adds tuned suspension and 19-inch alloy in graphite finish. A unique 3-spoke steering wheel with audio and cruise controls as well as paddle shifters is also included.

As with all Lexus vehicles on the road today, the RX lineup sees the latest in safety and convenience technology along with a longer list of acronyms to define them. Let’s just say everything is included and there might even be a kitchen sink somewhere.

The infotainment system can be accessed by the center console controller or by redundant controls found across the dash and instrument panels and   many can also be accessed by voice control. I like the addition of the heads up display in this model as it helps keep driver’s attention forward.

What the F Sport package offers Lexus and the RX lineup is the chance to better compete with other automakers in the entry luxury crossover segment. RX has always done well but lost buyers who were looking for something a bit more robust. F Sport does not launch the RX line quite to the level of say the BMW X3 but is headed in the right direction.

Ride and handling is improved over previous models and with that eight speed gearbox it seems as the vehicle is forever shifting while running around town. As with all RX models before it this crossover is very comfortable and quiet.

Pricing for the 2013 RX 350 F Sport AWD begins at 47 grand with our loaded tester arriving at a final price point of $53,865. EPA ratings for the gasoline 3.5-liter V-6 are 18 mpg city and 26 mpg highway but as I mentioned previously Lexus does still offer a hybrid RX for enhanced fuel economy.

Thanks to the addition of the F Sport for 2013, Lexus is getting further down the road in its dogged “pursuit of perfection.”