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    2013 Lexus RX 350 F-Sport


    By William Maley

    Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com

    May 2, 2013

    In 1999, Lexus introduced the first luxury car-based crossover named the RX. It became a huge success for the company and defined the compact luxury crossover class we know of today. But since that time, the competition has been improving. Vehicles such as the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz, and even the Cadillac SRX have been making inroads and slowly cutting away the RX’s sales lead. Lexus has been on the attack to stop the advance of competitors by introducing a refreshed 2013 RX, which includes a new F-Sport model that promises a more capable and sporty RX. Does the new F-Sport model help or hurt the RX?

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    Aggressive is the key word in describing the RX350 F-Sport exterior looks. Lexus did a excellent job of making the F-Sport really stand out. The front features Lexus’ spindle grille with a mesh insert, more aggressive front bumper, and a set of new headlights with LED daytime running lights running along the inner edge. Other F-Sport appointments include nineteen-inch alloy wheels with a graphite finish that help set off the very unique and optional Claret Mica (deep red) paint.

    The interior of RX350 F-Sport is much like the standard RX with some touches to it give some sport. There are set of alloy pedals, leather seats with F-Sport logo embroidered into them, a sport steering wheel with paddle shifters, and metal trim pieces. I feel like Lexus is trying a bit too hard to convince everyone that is their sporty model with all of these touches. Just tone it down somewhat.

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    Comfort is a big plus in the RX. Front seat passengers get power adjustments, heat, and ventilated seats. In the back, passengers will find a good amount of head and legroom. Plus, passengers can recline and adjust their seats to make themselves more comfortable. Cargo space is very impressive, with RX having the best in class of 40 cubic feet. That grows to 80 cubic feet with the rear seats down.

    The main point of contention in the RX’s interior is the center stack. Controls seem somewhat cramped thanks to the odd placement of the transmission selector. Also, the screen for the infotainment seems a bit too far in the center stack. I will give Lexus kudos though for putting the screen at just the right height.

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    The 2013 RX comes equipped with Lexus’ Remote Touch which is this joystick/mouse controller you use to move around the infotainment system. Previously, I have complained about the Remote Touch system being a bit slow to perform a function where I could have done it a bit faster with a touchscreen. Since spending a week with the remote touch system, I got the hang of it and found it to be just as quick if I was using a touchscreen thanks to the layout of the infotainment system. That said, Remote Touch can be sometimes a bit touchy. If you’re trying to make a selection and your hand moves ever so slightly on the remote touch joystick/mouse thing, the selection is cancelled and you’re left yelling at the system. Its not bad, but it isn’t good either.

    Powering the RX 350 F-Sport is the same engine you’ll find under the standard RX; a 3.5L V6 making 270 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. F-Sport models get an eight-speed transmission with all-wheel drive, while base RX 350s stick with a six-speed automatic and the choice between front or all-wheel drive.

    The 3.5L’s performance can be classified as adequate. It's not the most powerful engine in the class, but it's also not sluggish. The 3.5L can get you moving at a decent rate, but be prepared to push the pedal a bit more if you need to get moving quicker. The eight-speed automatic is very smooth and responsive. You won’t notice the transmission working its way through the gears unless one of your eyes is glued to the tachometer. The paddles do make the F-Sport a bit more engaging to drive and can be activated when the transmission is in either drive or the manual mode. However, I wished the paddles were on the steering column and not the the steering wheel.

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    In the fuel economy department, the RX 350 F-Sport sees a minor increase when compared to the normal RX 350 mostly thanks to the eight-speed transmission. EPA rates the RX 350 F-Sport at 18 City/26 Highway/21 Combined, compared to the RX 350’s 18 City/24 Highway/20 Combined. During my week, I saw an average of 21 MPG.

    F-Sport models get firmer suspension and steering tuning, and new a lateral damping system that Lexus claims brings the a more engaging driving experience to the RX. The improvements are there... somewhat. The RX 350 F-Sport does roll less when in turns, but that’s really about it. The changes seem to bring more problems than improvements. An example is the steering. I found it to be heavy and wanting to fight me every time I turned the wheel. Lumbering was the word I would use to describe it. Oddly when I was driving around in the RX F-Sport, I kept thinking how much more I liked driving the Cadillac SRX I had a few weeks before.

    gallery_10485_649_217368.jpg

    The ride does suffer a bit as well as the firmer suspension does let more road imperfections into the cabin. It's not to the point of where your kidneys are getting repeatedly punched, but it's very un-Lexus like. The good news is the quietness that Lexus is known for remains very well and true in the F-Sport model.

    Sadly there is one more problem with the RX 350 F-Sport, the value for money argument. For the $51,729 as-tested price, you get such items as navigation, twelve-speaker sound system, blind-spot monitoring, and parking assist. But, the Cadillac SRX I had couple weeks before comes with most of these items and a more powerful V6 for about $4,000 less. If you decide to equip an SRX for the same asking price as the F-Sport and you can get such features as a panoramic sunroof, lane departure warning, and number of other features.

    The RX 350 F-Sport might look better and have a much better transmission than the standard RX 350, but I feel the normal RX is the much better vehicle all around. The F-Sport just adds more problems and hurts the RX more. If it was just an appearance package, I would be more ok with it. The F in the RX 350 F-Sport must be short for frustrated because that how I’ll felt at the end of my time with it.

    gallery_10485_649_1364120.jpg

    Disclaimer: Lexus provided the vehicle, insurance, and one tank of gasoline.

    Year - 2013

    Make – Lexus

    Model – RX 350

    Trim – F-Sport

    Engine – 3.5L DOHC 24-valve with Dual VVT-i V6

    Driveline – All-Wheel Drive, Eight-Speed Automatic

    Horsepower @ RPM – 270 @ 6,200 RPM

    Torque @ RPM – 248 @ 4,700 RPM

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/26/21

    Curb Weight – 4,510 lbs

    Location of Manufacture – Cambridge, Ontario; Canada

    Base Price - $47,000.00

    As Tested Price - $51,729.00* (Includes $895.00 destination charge)

    Options:

    Navigation with Voice Command, Lexus Enform - $2,775.00

    Blind Spot Monitor - $500.00

    Intuitive Parking Assist - $500.00

    Cargo Net - $59.00

    William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

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    Nice write up, I have to just shake my head at this car as it really looks like a station wagon trying to be a bit more buch and not being successful.

    I know looks are subjective, but then while I love the Predator Movies, the Predator front grill no matter what Lexus/toyota calls it is just ugly to me.

    Side profile is nice, tends to remind me of the first generation SRX. Rear is bland fine, tends to still remind me of a bread box that got squished at the top.


    The front head on look give one an impression of being fat on the bottom but lean on top. Just looks slow and slugish from the visual cues. I would say they still have no idea of any kind of Style Mojo.

    The engine compartment is sure plastic covered and just looks cheap.

    From what I can see of the interior, seats look fine just like everyone elses seats. The dash is the big problem. For a luxury auto, this dash SCREAMS Corolla. CHEAP, It just is terrible and for a new updated model.

    End result is I see Lexus doing a 1yr refresh on this already just like Honda Civic. This is a FAILURE for a new luxurty CUV. It already looks dated and old and out of touch with the 21st century.

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    The center stack looks like something on a COBY stereo system from the 90's. Ugly on the inside. Ugly on the outside. No wonder it's #1 in the USA.

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    It may just be me but I do not understand the attraction here. But I do understand the sales and the number they move of these at high profit. I would bet women buy 75% of these or more. I seldom see a man driving one.

    To me I also get the tall wagon look and cheap looking dash. I also do not understand the sport option. This is anything but sport. The sport issue is not just for this either I would not want to see a SS Nox either.

    There are many things I do not like on the market but if it make money and a lot of it God Bless em. Cars are built and sold to make money and if people want crap give it to em. In this market it is what ever it takes to survive.

    I have said that the love affair for the car is pretty much over with the general public for a long time. Many here wanted to contest it but here is exhibit A the Camry is exhibit B.

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    It's the aspirational CUV of women in suburbia nationwide. Combine the Toyota reliability reputation + Lexus accoutrements + the coveted 'L' on the nose = sales gold.

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    Other than the predator grille it looks the same as the non refreshed version from last year. The goofy dash reminds one of a cheap 90's stereo system and the exterior is as bland as ever.

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    You know, I am wondering why Lexus needs this F-Sport. That is not Lexus's business model or anything. In fact, The RX was meant for comfort luxury, not sport luxury. I would so replace that lame dash with a MUCH larger screen and ditch the entire concept of an F-Sport immediately. If I want sport in a luxury CUV, that is what a BMW X3/X5 is for, not a Lexus. Remember when the first-gen SRX was released, it did not sell very well because it aped BMW. Once Cadillac shifted to aping the RX, SRX sales boomed. Sport in a luxury CUV is simply unnecessary.

    And I HATE that Predator grill!

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    I'm not a fan of the current RX, though it is a comfortable drive. I don't care for the spindle grill at all, but it probably wouldn't dissuade anybody from buying one. I could see the appeal of the F-Sport line, for those who want something a tad more sporting but don't want to risk the liability concerns of the more sporting brands like BMW or Audi.

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      Having debuted its reinvented flagship sedan earlier this year—the all-new 2018 LS 500—Lexus is putting an exclamation point on this signature model with the new F SPORT model. The LS 500 F SPORT, unveiled today and on display this week at the New York International Auto Show, moves the driving emotion needle even farther with handling enhancements and a performance-infused design outside and in.
      The original luxury disruptor when it debuted to launch the brand, the Lexus LS has for nearly three decades set benchmarks for powertrain smoothness, ride quietness, craftsmanship, attention to detail, and long-term quality. The 2018 LS 500 will offer the most dynamic driving experience in the model’s history; now it has the possibility of being enhanced further with the new F SPORT model.
      Within the Lexus lineup, the F models, including GS F and RC F, are the track-tuned maximum performance machines. The F SPORT versions, meanwhile, imbue the standard models with a more engaging driving spirit through carefully applied chassis tuning and enhancements, while still emphasizing exceptional comfort. On the new LS, the F SPORT model will be available with gas and hybrid powertrains, and those choosing the RWD V6TT model will have the option of adding the F SPORT Handling Package to bring a level of liveliness never before seen on the flagship sedan.
      F SPORT Look
      Lexus designers didn’t hold back when giving the LS 500 its coupe-like silhouette and dramatic rendition of the Lexus signature spindle grille that shows even greater intricacy in the design. Developing the F SPORT grille took computer-aided design (CAD) operators some five months to achieve the desired texture and interaction with light. Even then, they adjusted 7,100 individual surfaces to achieve the desired look and texture (compared to 5,000 for the standard model’s grille). And when combined with the sporty enlarged side grille, it is functional as well, helping to maintain the vehicle’s cooling performance.
      The special F SPORT front grille, rocker panel, and trunk moldings accentuate the sedan’s rakish profile, while F SPORT badging on fenders and exclusive 20-inch alloy wheels complete the exterior transformation. For those looking to really stand out, Ultra White is offered as an F SPORT-exclusive exterior color.
      F SPORT Inside
      As it did with the exterior, Lexus shifted the LS 500 cabin into F SPORT spec by applying trim and features exclusive to this version. A common thread through all LS models remains: Omotenashi, the concept of Japanese hospitality. Applied to the LS 500, it means taking care of the driver and passengers, anticipating their needs, attending to their comfort and helping to protect them from hazards. The F SPORT adds a performance attitude to the mix.
      The F SPORT persona shines throughout the cabin, starting with the F SPORT-exclusive front seat, which provides enhanced support for dynamic driving. A perforated-grill pattern on seating surfaces and unique scored aluminum trim elements add additional sporty flair.
      The driver faces a special F SPORT steering wheel as well as a speedometer and tachometer in a movable meter with a ring that slides to display information—a design adapted from the limited-production Lexus LFA supercar and a further expression of the car’s dynamic intentions. Attention to detail shows in the aluminum accelerator, brake and footrest pedals, as well as the F SPORT perforated shift handle and footrest. Ultrasuede in the seats and headliner is the crowning touch. For those desiring the ultimate sporty look, a new Circuit Red interior is available exclusively on F SPORT models.
      LS 500 Chassis Details
      2018 LS F SPORT models feature the latest generation of the brand’s advanced chassis control technology, Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM), which has been refined since its debut more than a decade ago.
      In 2004, Lexus introduced the first integrated control system that combined the previously independent ABS, traction control, vehicle stability control, and EPS, as well as other functions, into a single system. In 2012, the brand adopted the four-wheel active steering integrated control system—known as Lexus Dynamic Handling, or LDH—from the GS for enhanced safety and driving performance that responds to the driver’s intention.
      The new VDIM system implements cooperative control of all vehicle subsystems – braking, steering, powertrain, and suspension – to control basic longitudinal, lateral and vertical motion as well as yaw, roll and pitch. Optimal control of these motions helps to enable exceptional ride comfort, enhanced traction and safety and handling agility, and allows for enriched flat vehicle posture during cornering as well as a more comfortable and stable ride overall.
      Sporting Genes
      The LS 500 is based on an extended version of the brand’s premium global architecture for luxury vehicles (GA–L) platform from the new Lexus LC 500 coupe. The stiffest platform that Lexus has ever developed, GA-L sets the stage for enhanced handling, ride smoothness and cabin quietness. The LS F SPORT capitalizes on the platform’s responsiveness and agility.
      Equipping the LS 500 F SPORT with standard 20-inch wheels and 245/45RF20+ 275/40RF20 tires, (summer tires for RWD) along with larger front and rear brakes (6-piston calipers on front and 4 pistons on rear), unlocks more of the platform’s intrinsic performance capability. Opting for the available F SPORT Handling Package (RWD gas model) equips the LS 500 F SPORT with Lexus Dynamic Handling (Variable Gear Ratio Steering and Active Rear Steering), Active Stabilizer, and sport-tuned air suspension with rapid height function. The result is a full-size premium luxury sedan that responds more like a sports coupe through curves, helping to underline what F SPORT stands for.
      415-Horsepower Heart with a 10-Speed Partner
      Lexus designed an all-new 3.5-liter V6 engine specifically for the new 2018 LS 500, using twin turbochargers developed through the company’s F1 technology. This new twin-turbo V6 offers V8-level performance – 415 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque – paired with the first-ever 10-speed automatic transmission in luxury sedan.
      The engine yields a broad torque curve and, perfectly in tune with the F SPORT spirit, the new engine and transmission deliver instant acceleration and a constant buildup of torque toward the vehicle’s redline. The LS 500 is undeniably quick, with a 0-60 time of 4.5 seconds (gas RWD). An electric wastegate is among the features that contribute to the engine’s rapid responses. The driver can tailor powertrain response and feel by choosing from Normal, Sport S or Sport S+ modes, and just enough of the exhaust note is heard to enhance the sporty feel.
      F SPORT Performance, Hybrid Efficiency
      The LS 500h F SPORT infuses high efficiency into the sporting formula. The new Multi Stage Hybrid System combines a naturally aspirated Atkinson-cycle 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engine with two electric motor/generators and uses a compact, lightweight lithium-ion battery. The V6 engine uses D-4S direct fuel injection, and lightweight valvetrain components, with Dual VVT-i ensuring ample torque across the engine speed range. Combined system output is 354 hp.
      The new system adapts the planetary-type continuously variable transmission from Lexus Hybrid Drive and also adds a unique four-speed automatic transmission. Working in concert, the two gearsets alter output in four stages to utilize the V6 engine across the entire speed range. In manual mode, the two gearsets act together to provide the effect of 10 ratios, giving the LS 500h F SPORT an enhanced dynamic feel on the road and allowing the driver to shift through the ratios with paddle shifters. The Multi Stage Hybrid System allows for more electric assist at lower vehicle speeds.
      What’s more, this system allows the RWD LS 500h to propel from 0-60 in 5.2 seconds – which is on par with the previous-generation V8-powered LS 460 and 3 /10th of a second faster than the AWD LS 600h.

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