A few weeks ago I got the opportunity to go to Portland, Oregon to test drive the 2016 Lexus RX. I couldn’t wait for this media trip for many reasons. One reason was that I had the privilege to check out the RX. Another reason was that I have never been to Portland.

I have never driven a Lexus myself so this was going to be my first impression of driving a vehicle from Lexus. One of the things that I first noticed during the opening session was that looking back at the original RX to the 2016 model, Lexus really created the mold for luxury SUVs. If you see each of their models from the past you will see other companies trying to imitate their style. If a competitor looks to take any designs from the 2016 RX everyone will know it. The reason is that grille is very unique. It is a spindle grille and is rimmed by a strip of thick chrome. The sharp lines dominate the rest of the front especially with slit-like headlights to the arrowhead-shape that surrounds the fog lamps. Needless to say this is beautiful ride.

The day of the test drive I drove the Lexus RX 450h, which is a hybrid. The folks at Lexus gave me a few different paths to test out the RX. I chose one of the assigned routes and I was off. The first thing that I noticed about the RX was how quiet the ride was. All the outside noise just vanished. It was just me and the RX taking a tour of Portland.

As I was driving I noticed a rectangle shape image on the windshield. This displayed some key information about my drive. It would tell me speed, the direction I was going in, as well as alerting me to the changes of the speed limit as approached different sections of the road. It was a great reminder for me especially in an area I have never driven a car to alert me of the speed limits. This will definitely come in handy for those who travel. You ever notice when you are in a new place you never can find the speed limit in that town? Well with the display that pops up on the windshield the RX gives you that information. I loved having that feature in the RX.

The 2016 RX has a large 12.3-inch LCD screen that is located in the center of the dash. It doesn’t stand out like a sore thumb. The lower-end RX models have a smaller, eight-inch screen. To navigate through the screen you use a mouse-like joystick to control the many different systems. There is also a 360-degree panoramic view monitor that helps you know the distance from nearby obstacles at low speeds and when parking.

Even though the RX cancels out much of the outside noise, you still can get it loud as you want with the optional Mark Levinson 15-speaker package. The sound quality is perfect even with the base audio package. The sound just doesn’t pump the bass in the ride, but all levels are clean. It is to the point where you are enjoying an impressive sound but not having the car shake as your music plays in the RX. An ambassador from Mark Levinson explained that Lexus is the only car company that they will work with for their sound system. He told me that the acoustics in the Lexus models is a perfect fit.

The RX handles like a dream. It offers a very smooth, yet powerful ride. When you need to pick up the pace the RX won’t let you down. Under the RX 350’s hood is an upgraded and more powerful 3.5-liter V6 aiming to deliver 300 hp with direct injection, mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission. Based on this enhanced powertrain is the RX 450h’s Atkinson-cycle 3.5-liter V6. When combined with the electric motor generator, the combined output results in around 300 hp. All RX engines have been tuned in anticipation of high fuel economy ratings and low carbon emissions.

On the road the 2016 RX gives you an impressive dynamic capability. The entire chassis has been fortified to provide enhanced straight-line stability and control through turns. The vehicle’s body structure has been strengthened with added stiffness, helping to enhance its handling response while reducing engine and road noise in the cabin. Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) is standard, while Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) is available on select models.  Each system is designed to help recognize loss of vehicle control, and help mitigate potentially dangerous situations with automatic and often transparent adjustments to help the vehicle maintain optimal traction. The RX also is offered in All-Weather Drive to help the RX’s handling performance and control on dry and slick surfaces alike.

Lexus continue to make safety is a priority with their Lexus Safety System+. This system helps you avoid or lessen accidents. It does this by using the Pre-Collision System (PCS) that is designed to detect sudden stops initiated by the preceding vehicle and can engage automatic braking in certain circumstances. If you are getting to close to another car or object the LX slows down automatically even if you are on cruise control.

What about the times where you as a driver need a break. The RX alerts you if you keep swaying in and out of your lane. If you make this a trend while you are driving you will see a coffee cup displayed on the monitor. The RX is encouraging you to take a rest from driving.

If you are looking for a new SUV and haven’t found the right one yet, maybe you should test out 2016 Lexus RX. You may find that this is the luxury SUV that you have been looking for.

Below is the power system on the 450h that I tested out in Portland. For more on the Lexus RX go to the Lexus website here.

HYBRID POWER SYSTEM

Type: Series/parallel system with gas engine and electric motors

Total System Power: 308 hp

Engine: V6, aluminum block and heads

Designation: 2GR-FXS

Valvetrain: DOHC 24-valve with VVT-i

Displacement 3.5 liter

Bore x Stroke 3.70 in. x 3.27 in.

Compression Ratio 13.0:1

Horsepower (SAE) 259 hp @ 6,000 rpm (not including hybrid drive)

Torque 247 lb.-ft. @ 4,800 rpm (not including hybrid drive)

Maximum Engine Speed (redline) 6,200 rpm

Fuel System Port Fuel Injection (EFI, D-4S)

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