In short, the RX no longer feels like a vehicle that’s saddled with weak-kneed, somewhat queasy handling in the name of pillowy ride comfort. But we wouldn’t call it quite as willing to dance in the corners as the Acura MDX—a vehicle with superb ride quality and handling, albeit with a little more interior noise.
The cabin stays as quiet as you’d expect for an RX—very much so—except when you do press hard on the accelerator you hear the engine a bit more. That’s intentional, and in F Sport models there’s some intake noise piped in (via a Sound Creator).
The driving modes help here—mostly
The only thing that we’d use the Customize mode setting for is to manually get the normal or comfort steering setting back while keeping the sporty powertrain calibration; that’s because while the sportier steering setting introduced a heavier steering weighting, it completely erases what little steering feedback there is. In its lighter setting, you do get some.
As for the F Sport models that we spent the most time with, they also add a unique steering wheel with paddle shifters, aluminum pedals and scuff plates, and F Sport gauges (that in the Hybrid bring a tachometer into frame, rather than a sweeping power gauge). Racy Rioja Red leather seats are also an F Sport exclusive.
The RX cabins are a great place to while the miles away when you’re not tackling the corners, too. The dash and door trims of the new RX follow the look established by the latest GS and IS sport sedans—thankfully much more than the somewhat over-the-top, edgy-and-layered look of the smaller NX crossover. There are some nicely drawn, assymetrical curves framing the center stack (which is canted toward the driver) and the center console, which has its own unusual upkick and curve on the right side, angling it over toward the driver.
Feels sportier, less cluttered from the driver’s seat
It’s a neat, well-designed place, and definitely less cluttered than some of Lexus’s other interior efforts of the past few years—with subtle colors (except for that Rioja Red), matte-black and matte-metallic trims combining to have the intended effect of being luxurious, as well as a good deal sportier than before.
This time, Lexus wants to make clear that none of its models—not even the venerable RX—are going to be written off as comfort models that don’t cater to the driver. The 2016 RX wears that mission statement through and through, and it makes some great leaps—most of them for the better.
The RX is far more than a luxury placebo this time around; now it's a prescription worth re-upping.