2019 Lexus RX

By October 9, 2019

The Lexus RX is smooth and striking and versatile—and it’s by far the best-selling mid-size luxury crossover SUV. It returns for the 2019 model year with few changes.

The RX 350 is powered by a 295–horsepower 3.5-liter V-6, mated to an 8-speed automatic, with front-wheel drive or available all-wheel drive. The RX 450h hybrid uses a less powerful V-6 and electric motors that combine for 259 hp.

An F Sport package adds a throaty exhaust note, as well as adaptive dampers that firm up the supple ride, along with quicker steering, paddle shifters, and Sport+ to the standard drive modes. 

The standard RX seats five comfortably, while slightly longer seven-seat models called the RX 350L and RX 450hL have third rows that are realistically too small for adults but okay for kids.

The base RX 350 with front-wheel drive is EPA rated at 20 mpg city, 27 highway, 23 combined, with the all-wheel-drive version getting 1 less mpg. The RX 450h hybrid gets 31/28/30 mpg. The longer seven-seat versions get 1 less mpg.  

The IIHS gives the RX its Top Safety Pick rating, and the NHTSA gives the RX 350 with all-wheel drive five stars overall, with four stars for frontal crash protection.  But the front-wheel-drive RX 350 and both long-wheelbase models only get four stars overall. Standard safety equipment includes automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high beams. Blind-spot monitors are optional, as are a surround-view camera system and head-up display. 

Model Lineup

The RX 350 starts at about $44,000. Standard equipment includes synthetic leather, LED headlights, power front seats, an 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment, Bluetooth, USB ports and 18-inch wheels. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility aren’t even available. 

A Premium package adds real leather, wood trim, and roof rails. A Luxury package adds heated and cooled front seats, upgraded leather, and 20-inch wheels. The touchscreen can also be upgraded to a massive 12.3-inch unit, and there’s a rear entertainment display system that can run two videos side-by-side. 

The F Sport package adds the firmer suspension and more responsive steering, plus sport seats and styling touches including aero cladding and unique wheels. 

Luxury options are many, including a panoramic roof, cooled seats, navigation, and Mark Levinson sound system with 835 watts and 15 speakers.

Exterior

The RX was a groundbreaker for Lexus, with its edgy and aggressive looks. It’s sharp and sleek, with a touch of anger in its face from the spindle grille. 

From nose to tail, the RX shows off its angles, under a floating roof. The F Sport trim lends even more of an edge with aero tweaks and cladding on the lower body.

Interior

The cabin is more conservative but still intriguing, especially with matte bamboo trim and the lipstick-red leather available on the F Sport. A swoopy center console curves towards the driver and caries an optional massive infotainment screen. 

The RX gets high marks for almost everything in the cabin: comfort, space, silence, and fit and finish. For the RX L model, there’s less third-row seat space than expected, though.

The soft front seats stay comfortable for hours. Luxury models have 10-way power adjustment, cooling, heat, and extendable thigh cushions. F Sport models have bolstering that will be snug for some. 

Second-row passengers can lay back in their reclining seats with a fold-down armrest, and stretch out with plenty of legroom. The hybrid’s battery pack is located under the rear seat and raises it by one inch, so that model might trim head room for tall people. 

Driving Impressions 

Acceleration from the 3.5-liter V-6 is strong, and the 8-speed automatic transmission complements the power delivery. The all-wheel-drive version, despite being heavier, is quicker from a standing start because it gets better traction, with 50 percent of the power going to the rear wheels.

The RX 450h hybrid uses a less powerful version of that V-6 combined with two electric motors to drive the rear wheels. Using a continuously variable transmission (CVT), it makes a respectable 259 hp, strong enough for almost any driver.

The RX has drive modes that change the character of the performance. There’s the usual Normal, Comfort and Sport, as well as an Eco mode that increases fuel economy by cutting the output of the climate control system and softening the throttle response. The F Sport model adds a Sport+ mode. 

The ride is supple and the cornering is casual. Steering is light and turn-in is direct; it provides more feel (with less heft) in Comfort mode than Sport. 

The F Sport tightens things up a bit, but still doesn’t make the RX overly firm. With adaptive dampers, variable-ratio steering, and paddle shifters, the F Sport’s edge complements the daring RX look perfectly. 

Final Word

The 2019 Lexus RX is a best seller for a reason. It’s sleek and striking, and there’s little to find fault with—especially in the all-wheel-drive F Sport, with its great powertrain, confident handling, and comfortable ride.