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2015 Lexus RX: Luxury SUV doesn't miss a beat

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 18, 2014 at 1:29 pm •  Published: June 18, 2014

Buyers of luxury sport utility vehicles keep choosing one SUV — the Lexus RX — in greater numbers than any other.

It's easy to see why.

The RX is a smartly sized and quiet, refined family vehicle with luxury appointments, good fuel economy and flexible seating and cargo space.

It has upscale looks, and fit and finish can be top notch.

Now into its 16th year, the RX also has a reputation for reliability. Consumer Reports said it expects much better than average reliability for the current RX and lists the RX as a recommended buy.

Even price increases and the lack of a third row of seats haven't stopped the RX from leading others in the luxury SUV segment. Last calendar year, for example, RX sales in the United States topped 100,000, which has been a regular occurrence for this SUV since its 1998 introduction.

The second best-selling premium- or luxury-branded SUV last year was the Buick Enclave, whose sales tallied just over 60,000.

For 2015, the base retail price for the five-seat RX goes up by $1,035 to $41,705. This is for a 2015 RX 350 with front-wheel drive and 270-horsepower V-6 mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The lowest starting manufacturer's suggested retail price, including destination charge, for a 2015 RX 350 with all-weather drive — Lexus doesn't call it all-wheel drive — also is increased $1,035 to $43,105.

The RX comes in higher-priced models, too, such as the gasoline-electric hybrid RX 450h. This fuel-thrifty version starts at $48,355 and has a government fuel economy rating of 32 miles per gallon in city driving and 28 mpg on the highway.

The combined city/highway mileage rating of 30 mpg for the front-wheel drive RX hybrid is 43 percent higher than the 21-mpg combined city/highway rating for a non-hybrid, front-wheel drive, 2015 RX 350.

Buyers surely can find luxury SUVs with lower starting prices.

The 2015 Acura RDX, for example, has a starting retail price of $35,790 with front-wheel drive, 273-horsepower V-6 and six-speed automatic. Another competitor — the 2014 Lincoln MKX — has a starting MSRP, including destination charge, of $39,470 for a front-wheel drive model with 305-horsepower V-6 and six-speed automatic.

Lexus, which is Toyota's luxury brand, hasn't strayed far from the successful formula it initiated with the very first RX.

Styling inside and out is not garish or showy, but the leather is soft enough to impress and shiny wood trim looks real.

Power from the current 3.5-liter, four cam V-6 comes on smoothly and steadily. In all but the most aggressive driving, shifts from the automatic transmission are not noticeable. There's decent low-end "oomph" when starting up from a stop.

But the RX 350's peak torque of 248 foot-pounds at 4,700 rpm is less than what some competitors offer. There are 280 foot-pounds of torque at 4,000 rpm in the Lincoln MKX and 251 foot-pounds of torque at 5,000 rpm in the Acura RDX.

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