2015 Lexus RX350 Review: An Iconic Luxury Crossover

2015 Lexus Rx350
Iconic luxury: The 2015 Lexus RX350, Christian Louboutin pumps, Tiffany wedding rings and an Hermes Birkin bag

This mid-sized crossover gives its driver and passengers confidence and comfort, and also, a lot of luxuries.

With many brands there is a singular image that becomes the icon. For Hermes, it’s the Birkin Bag; for Tiffany, it’s a two karat round diamond in a six pronged setting (presented, of course, in a blue box!), for Christian Louboutin, it’s the red soles of his pumps.

2015 Lexus Rx350

The 2015 Lexus RX350’s distinctive front end with ‘lightening bolt’ running lights

For Lexus, this is the RX. While the company has had huge successes with its luxury sedans, track-worthy sports cars and trucks that you could practically drive on the moon, the RX is dearly loved for its careful attention to luxury, detail-packed cabin and a drive experience that is confident and powerful without leaving you adrenaline-fatigued at the end.

2015 Lexus Rx350

View from the driver’s seat in the 2015 Lexus RX350

Who Should Consider This Car

  • Luxury is a must
  • So is design
  • You need an SUV
  • You don’t want to drive a truck
  • You appreciate top rate technology
  • You like to pamper your back seat passengers
  • You like power when accelerating and passing
  • You love great customer service at the dealership
2015 Lexus Rx350

Rear seats in the 2015 Lexus RX350 have a center fold-down option for carrying large items like skis

What Else You Should Consider

  • Seats 5 passengers; more comfortable for 4
  • The center seat folds down to accommodate large items such as skis or golf bags
  • The technology can take time to master
  • Not a lot of ‘stuff space’ for phones, keys, etc

I recently had the chance to drive the RX350, the foundation of the RX series (the others are the 350 F Sport and the 450h hybrid) in California. And if you’ve ever driven in California (and here is a great destination for when you do!), you know that there are certain things you need before you set out: Good navigation, good passing power, a good sound system and comfortable seats, because if you have to get on the freeway, you can be on the road a long time.

Luckily for us we didn’t hit a lot of traffic, but also luckily, we had a few hours drive during which we got to know the RX350.

Design: The uniform of luxury

Here’s the thing about a uniform: It says right up front who you are. Khaki jumpsuit? Getting down and dirty on the job. Finely tailored super 150 suit? Master of the universe. Alice + Olivia dress with a flash of red-soled Christian Louboutin heels? Serious about the best things in life. This is what the RX says about its occupants: confident, knowing, without compromise.

2015 Lexus Rx350

Thee 2015 Lexus RX350’s rear view

The RX350’s profile is aerodynamic and elegant, accented with the signature Lexus ‘lightening bolt’ running lights and a floating roof that keeps your eyes focused on the front of the car and its distinctive grille. From the rear, the car’s shape is also built for aerodynamics, sculpted to give maximum capacity inside while letting the wind stream around it with as little resistance as possible.

A lot of luxury packed into a mid-sized package

2015 Lexus Rx350

The rear seat LCD screens in the 2015 Lexus RX350 are built into the head rests

Inside, Lexus has filled the RX350 with tons of luxuries. The model we drove, priced at about $54,000, was a back seat passenger’s dream: two 7” LCD video screens are built into the front seat head rests so you can catch up on the Real Housewives of Orange County (or Little Einsteins!). Two wireless headphones and a remote control store neatly in the back seat’s center arm rest (or in the front seat’s center console). Back seat passengers also have a household plug, climate control and a/v outlets for a gaming system or DVD player, and all of the plugs are covered, giving the rear of the console a uniform, sedate appearance. 

2015 Lexus Rx350

The Lexus infotainment system can be controlled with this touchpad, which sits at the end of an arm rest

But the real treat is in the front seat. The model we drove came equipped with Heads Up Display, which projects key driver information, such as your current speed and direction, on the windshield right in your line of sight. This keeps you from having to glance down to see how fast you’re going. Also designed to keep you from glancing too far from the road is the Lexus Remote Touch infotainment system: a mouse on the center console and an arm rest are perfectly placed so you can extend your arm to the mouse and swipe and tap your way to controlling what you want to see, from selecting radio stations and navigation, to what you feel, such as setting climate control.

Learning to use the touch system takes some time, and the designers considered this when designing the RX350: Most of the functions are available as a button or dial, too. Navigation, phone and radio can be controlled with buttons on the steering wheel; radio, map and climate controls are on the center console, too.

Navigation: Easy to use voice commands, and real time traffic

2015 Lexus Rx350

Navigation in the 2015 Lexus RX350 shows you the overall picture (with real time traffic) and detailed directions

We used the navigation feature quite a bit on our trip. The system easily accepted my commands and guided me through the process of setting my destination, which I (or my husband) could do while driving (I think I do what a lot of people do, which is to start driving and then set my destination). After pushing the voice command button, I told the system the city I was going to, the street name and the address. Within a minute I had voice and map guidance that alerted me to each turn.

The nav system took us flawlessly to our destinations; we could follow along on screen, which displayed real time traffic with red, yellow or green arrows. The screen also showed us where we were going to hit slowing traffic, and we got a voice notice when there was slowing traffic ahead, too. This was great because I knew to expect it rather than slam on the brakes when I saw the jam ahead.

How to pair Bluetooth

2015 Lexus Rx350

We had plenty of room for cargo–we could have easily fit luggage for four and sports gear, too

The Bluetooth phone function was great for making calls (and annoying my husband) while we were on the highway. It was easy to set up, which you have to do while you’re parked: after I turned on the Bluetooth on my phone and selected the Lexus under my phone’s Bluetooth/Devices menu, I clicked ‘pair’ and it was done. However, if I turned off the Bluetooth on my phone while in the car (which I often do to conserve battery power, since it kills my battery pretty fast) I had to re-pair by clicking the Lexus device on the Bluetooth/Devices menu. It was easy and fast, but an extra step I hope Lexus will eliminate someday.

2015 Lexus Rx350

The auto lift gate closes with a push of this button

Once on the phone, calls were easy to make by pushing the voice command button on the steering wheel; the system understood me perfectly and when calls connected, the quiet cabin made it easy to have a conversation, even with the navigation voice directions chiming in softly in the background.

A makeover is planned, but what can possibly be improved?

Very soon Lexus will introduce the newest version of the RX350. In my mind the car is so iconic I can’t imagine how they will improve it, but then, that’s their job, not mine. Check back soon for an update and to see what has been added to this classic crossover.

2015 Lexus Rx350

The 2015 Lexus RX350 we drove included heads up display; see the small white “0” above the dashboard? That is the HUD showing how fast we are traveling–in this case, 0

What We Loved

  • Heads Up Display
  • Easy to use navigation
  • Peppy V6 engine
  • 40/20/40 split rear seat
  • Quiet ride
  • Rear entertainment system
  • Household plug
  • Heated and cooled leather seats
  • Roomy, comfortable back seat
2015 Lexus Rx350

The center console in the 2015 Lexus RX350 with the foldable wireless headphones and remote control for the entertainment system

What you need to Know

  • Entertainment and navigation, including the rear seat system, adds $4,000 to the price
  • Heads Up Display adds $1,200 to the price
  • 18MPG city/24MPG highway
  • Premium fuel recommended
  • 4 year/50,000 mile warranty
  • 6 year/70,000 powertrain warranty
  • 24/7 roadside assistance included
  • First and second scheduled maintenance included with purchase
  • Base price: $42,000; price of the model we tested, $54,340
2015 Lexus Rx350

The Monroney for the 2015 Lexus RX350

Disclosure: Lexus provided the RX350 for my review; opinions expressed are all my own. You can read our Lexus NX200t review here.

Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss