1.24.2015

To Its Own Self It Is True: The 2015 Lexus RX 350

Front 3/4 view of 2015 Lexus RX 350
The 2015 Lexus RX 350.
Tell me, if you can, the name of one other car that is still fulfilling the same mission as it did in 1999, with instantly recongizable styling between this year's model and the one from 16 years ago, and is still a top seller.

I thought not.




Rear 3/4 view of 2015 Lexus RX 350
2015 Lexus RX 350.
The Lexus RX 350 is a category of one. It single-handedly invented the luxury crossover segment when it debuted in the fall of 1998 as the RX 300 and has dominated it ever since.  What some of us thought was an odd-looking newcomer to the then-nine-year-old Lexus lineup (Publisher and Executive Editor Michael Hagerty called the first one he tested the "lunar rover") is and has been since the beginning a status symbol, the preferred vehicle of the ladies who lunch and far and away the best-seller in the Lexus lineup.

Lexus maintains that advantage with frequent updates and freshenings, never messing with what works, and by never pricing itself out of the market. Quite the contrary. A 1999 RX 300 carried a base price of $32,950. The U.S. Government's CPI (Consumer Price Index) Inflation Calculator says that's $47,855 in today's dollars.  The 2016 RX 350's base price is $40,970.  So it is actually more affordable now, despite having 60 more horsepower, getting better mileage---now 18 city/24 highway---and being faster, smoother and considerably more luxurious than it was in year one.

Interior view of 2015 Lexus RX 350
2015 Lexus RX 350 interior.
Our test vehicle was the all-wheel-drive model, which starts at $42,195 and has a list of standard features too long to print here.  Click here to let Lexus list them for you.

Nonetheless, there are available options.  In the case of our example, nearly $12,000 worth:

Comfort Package (Xenon HID headlamps, LED foglamps, rain-sensing wipers, heated and ventilated front seats): $1,390.

Dual-Screen rear seat entertainment with navigation (Headphones, audio/video inputs, a 120V AC power outlet, navigation with voice commane, Lexus Enform with Destination Assist and eDestination, SiriusXM NavTraffic, NavWeather, Stocks, Sports & Fuel Prices and the Enform app suite): $4,060.

19-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires: $700.

Heads-up display: $1,200.

Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound DVD/CD player, HDRadio with iTunes tagging and 15 speakers: $995.

Intuitive parking assist: $500.

Premium Package with Blind Spot Monitor system (Leather trim interior, blind spot monitor system, one-touch open/close moonroof, power-folding electrochromic heated outside mirrors, driver's seat/steering/mirror memory with three settings, roof rails): $2,760.

Wood and leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob: $330.

Cargo net: $59.

The as-tested price, including $910 delivery, processing and handling fee: $55,099.

Undoubtedly, that is serious money.  But it buys a capable, comfortable and desirable vehicle that seems never to go out of style and in which you'll likely want for nothing.

Tell me, if you can, the name of one other.

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