A year ago, we wouldn’t dream of trying to persuade any guy in the market for an aggressive new car to consider a Lexus RX. The 467-horsepower Lexus RC F Coupe? Definitely. But selling a man’s man on the carmaker’s mid-size luxury crossover would seem to be a fool’s errand. However, after test-driving the new 2016 Lexus RX lineup in Portland, we’ve completely shifted our opinion of the RX. And here are seven reasons why.
Building on many of the RC’s design cues, the new RX has a far bolder look than its predecessor, thanks to the crossover’s re-masking in Lexus’ new spindle design language. The addition of a 308-horspower 450h F SPORT model to the lineup (a first for 2016) gives the RX even more respectable street cred, with features like a blackout mesh grille and matching black side mirrors.
There’s nothing like getting excited about a car’s look only to find yourself disappointed once you’ve climbed into the cockpit. That can be especially troubling for men when it comes to luxury crossovers, which are often aimed more at women. However, features on the RX F SPORT like the exclusive Rioja Red interior, three-spoke sport steering and drilled aluminum accelerator and brake pedals quickly kick those concerns to the curb.
Pulling off a striking crossover design that appeals to men is impressive. But let’s be honest, if the vehicle doesn’t perform it really won’t close the deal. Thanks to enhancements like a stiffer body and a more active suspension system inspired by some of the driving dynamics on the RC Coupe, the RX did leave us with a few memorable moments winding through some of those twisty Portland back roads.
The key to getting the most out of any crossover lies in its versatility. The new RX, offered in both a standard V6 and hybrid model, builds on that idea with features like improved cargo space, four 12-volt power outlets and solid roof rails. The vehicle is also available with a touch-free power rear door, a Lexus first, which allows users to open the rear hatch by simply placing a hand near the Lexus emblem.
We know the appreciation for great-sounding music is gender neutral. But our guess is that you’d typically find more men than women spending the extra cash for an upgraded audio system. Regardless, we can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t prefer the new Mark Levinson Premium Audio System, which uses a high-tech music conversion process to enhance the quality of everything from classic rap to opera.
Customization will always be a huge selling point in luring guys to a vehicle. The RX, which has a starting price of $41,900 for the base RX 350, offers some attractive options. Among our favorites? Three distinct 20-inch wheel options, each with their own unique attitude and style.
One of the issues with crossovers is that they typically can only realistically accommodate two of your friends. The new RX, however, can legitimately seat four averaged-sized males comfortably thanks to a new lowered rear floor section. Lexus’ claim that it seats five is probably best reserved for short jaunts. But this ride is easily suited for road trips with friends—especially those shaped more like minivans—than any sports coupe.