The 2023 Lexus RX 350 F Sport Will Make a Fan Out of You
“Oh my,” I thought to myself when I read the email telling me a 2023 Lexus RX 350 F Sport was on the way. “This ought to be fun”
It was my first personal encounter with the F Sport line but I knew perfectly well what kind of hot-rodding Lexus is capable of. Visions of the raucous RC F and legendary LFA flashed through my mind in a cacophony of roaring engines and shrieking tires. Putting that kind of spirit into a practical SUV would make a compelling everyday driver indeed.
The RX 350 F Sport occupies the sporty end of Lexus’ midsize SUV lineup. The RX platform is larger than the NX (which is really a hatchback) and smaller than the burly GX and LX. This version, graced with F Sport badges and Grecian Water paint, comes with a 2.4-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine producing 275 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission sends power to all four wheels. Prices start at $58,150, but my test vehicle came with a long list of options that bumped the price up to $64,395.
One of the tricks I’ve learned from attending car meetups is to pay attention to tires. Even without popping the hood or seeing a spec sheet, you can tell a lot about a car and its driver by the rubber between them and the road. The 2023 Lexus RX 350 F Sport comes with 21-inch (!) wheels wrapped in 235/50R21 Goodyear Eagle Touring tires.
That width seems a little skinny for a performance vehicle that weighs 4,400 pounds. Goodyear’s website lists the Eagle Touring as a “sport performance” tire but marks it with commuter and all-season tags. Are your spidey senses detecting appearance package vibes, yet?
Driving the RX 350 F Sport confirmed my suspicions but stay tuned because that’s not the whole story. There’s a surprising amount of rev-hang. The engine sounds generic but I’ll happily take that over heavy-handed augmentation via the speakers. Sport mode is fairly subdued but at least it doesn’t ruin the handling with overly stiff suspension. A Trackhawk this SUV is not.
I’ll admit that the F Sport badge might be misleading to diehard car enthusiasts. If you’re cross-shopping this with something from the hooligans at AMG or M division, it’s not the car for you. Then again, its associated maintenance and repair costs aren’t in the same league, either.
As much as I enjoy hot-tempered sports machines, they aren’t always agreeable to live with. That’s why I kept an open mind with the RX 350 F Sport — and it’s a good thing I did.
Underneath all that beautiful blue paint is a blacked-out interior that looks and feels excellent. The seats are nicely bolstered and comfortable enough to sit in all day. Front passengers are treated to heated and cooled seats, but rear passengers have to do without. Getting situated in the driver’s seat feels a bit like snuggling into some kind of tiny spacecraft for launch — nothing requires the driver to straighten their elbow and all the controls are intuitively placed.
Seeing a digital display in the rear-view mirror might be startling at first, but I grew to like it. The hatch-mounted camera offers a better view than the mirror (which you can still use) and can be adjusted for brightness, contrast, and other vehicles’ headlights.
Most of the vehicle’s features lie within the 9.8-inch touchscreen display but the ones you need right now — windshield defroster, temperature controls, and volume — have dedicated physical buttons or knobs.
Lexus bestows the RX 350 F Sport with an expansive suite of driver aids including a customizable heads-up display, intelligent navigation, traffic jam assist, lane tracing assist, intelligent high beams, braking assist, parking assist, and a grand total of 10 airbags. You can manage all the available features with the touchscreen. The Lexus app lets you access vehicle reports and schedule service.
As funny as it sounds, Lexus cruise control is one of the simple joys in life. Some manufacturers make it such a hassle to use cruise control; here, there’s no ten-digit launch code and two-factor authentication to activate. Tap the cruise control button on the front of the steering wheel. The system is on, your speed is set, and you can adjust your speed up or down from the wheel or let the adaptive system adjust to traffic conditions automatically.
Those steering wheel buttons are another nice touch. Each side has a four-direction touchpad simply marked with arrows. Brush either with your thumb and the heads-up display shows which command each button will activate. Tap a page button to cycle through different functions for the four-button layout. It’s simple, effective, and keeps the steering wheel uncluttered.
For all its tech, the Lexus RX 350 F Sport is incredibly easy to get acclimated to. Every time I drove it, life instantly got easier. The temperature was spot-on. Flipping between the navigation and music screens was easy. In a few minutes, I was able to customize what information I wanted to receive and where I wanted the car to deliver it: on the main screen, in the gauge cluster, or on the heads-up display. Lexus executes voice commands well, too.
I recently wrote that the NX 350h drives like an automotive version of an executive assistant. The RX 350 F Sport does too, but this time your assistant is a former athlete who’s happy to hit the pickleball court with you after work. The F Sport isn’t a rowdy sports car but it can quicken the pace to keep up with your busy schedule just fine.
So yes, the Lexus RX 350 F Sport is more akin to Audi’s S-Line than Mercedes’ AMG or Cadillac’s Blackwing. My solution? Fit this into a two-car garage with a Miata or GR86 to get the best of both worlds. You might long for a rumbly engine and twitchy steering at first but after a few miles you’ll be too comfortable to be bothered about that — or anything else for that matter.
Scott is a lover of motorized fun, whether on four wheels or two. A child of the ’90s, he has a particular soft spot for hatchbacks and believes all aging cars deserve a second chance at life. If he’s not behind a camera or a computer, he’s probably chasing down new coffee shops with his wife or throwing a frisbee for his dog.
The views and opinions expressed here are his own and may not align with the founders of Everyday Driver.