Live thread: One week with a 2023 Lexus RX 350h

J.G.
By J.G. Pasterjak
Nov 21, 2023 | Lexus, Lexus RX 350

Photography by J.G. Pasterjak

We’re spending a week with a Lexus RX 350h hybrid SUV in the “Luxury” trim, so you can ask any questions you like about it.

But, first, we have some questions. Mostly, why does Lexus insist on making their electronic driver aids so … present. The bottom line here is the RX is a perfectly okay everyday SUV. It’s got typical Lexus/Toyota excellent seating and vision, but the overall user experience can be downright intimidating.

If it’s not dinging at you letting you know it thinks the driver isn’t paying attention, it’s making you figure out how to use the cruise control, as it eschews three decades of Toyota’s famous stubby cruise stalk for some wheel-mounted controls that aren’t nearly as intuitive and demand additional button presses for simple commands.

Which is kind of the whole story with the RX. It’s a good car that can’t stop screaming “I’M HELPING!!!” at 120 dB long enough to let you fully enjoy it.

The hybrid system does add a tiny bit of economy to the experience—we’re seeing just a hair over 30 mpg in mixed driving—but it feels like 30 mpg is kind of the new bottom standard that modern midsize SUVs should be able to attain. So kudos for clearing a lowish bar I guess.

Look, overall, it’s not a bad car. It’s just for $60,000+ for this trim level you’d kind of hope for “special” instead of “above average with asterisks.”

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Comments
Mndsm
Mndsm MegaDork
11/21/23 2:44 p.m.

Watching with interest. This exact vehicle (down to the trim level, though we're hoping for either Nori green or that goofy champagne color ) is #1 on swmbos shopping list. 

 

How is it from a distance driving standpoint, comfortwise? I know they feel very...cockpitty inside, does that translate into feeling cramped after a while? 

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
11/21/23 2:57 p.m.
Mndsm said:

Watching with interest. This exact vehicle (down to the trim level, though we're hoping for either Nori green or that goofy champagne color ) is #1 on swmbos shopping list. 

 

How is it from a distance driving standpoint, comfortwise? I know they feel very...cockpitty inside, does that translate into feeling cramped after a while? 

Honestly everything dynamic about it is fine. I'd happily take it on a long journey and I never really felt cramped, and I'm pretty sensitive to claustrophobic cockpits. really the biggest annoyance would be the constant scolds that I'm not paying enough attention to the road. Honestly I never could figure out exactly what it wanted. If I stared straight ahead, it scolded me. If I scanned the road side to side, it scolded me. I'm starting to think it just doesn't like me.

glueguy (Forum Supporter)
glueguy (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand Dork
11/21/23 3:05 p.m.

It knows you're an imposter and not in the target demographics

 

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
11/21/23 3:08 p.m.
glueguy (Forum Supporter) said:

It knows you're an imposter and not in the target demographics

 

I did wonder why I had to input my credit rating to tune in NPR.

Mndsm
Mndsm MegaDork
11/21/23 3:18 p.m.
JG Pasterjak said:
Mndsm said:

Watching with interest. This exact vehicle (down to the trim level, though we're hoping for either Nori green or that goofy champagne color ) is #1 on swmbos shopping list. 

 

How is it from a distance driving standpoint, comfortwise? I know they feel very...cockpitty inside, does that translate into feeling cramped after a while? 

Honestly everything dynamic about it is fine. I'd happily take it on a long journey and I never really felt cramped, and I'm pretty sensitive to claustrophobic cockpits. really the biggest annoyance would be the constant scolds that I'm not paying enough attention to the road. Honestly I never could figure out exactly what it wanted. If I stared straight ahead, it scolded me. If I scanned the road side to side, it scolded me. I'm starting to think it just doesn't like me.

Maybe it thought the bird was in charge? 

 

The safety nanny thing would be annoying as heck. I'll be curious as to what the return on MPG is at the end of this. Does it have the Levinson package? Does that stereo rip like it used to? Will it scold me if I play deathcore? 

gixxeropa
gixxeropa GRM+ Memberand Reader
11/21/23 3:40 p.m.

This car sounds like my nightmare, I can't stand things beeping at me, to the point I'd rather walk. My dad however would get along fine, as he can drive down the road for 30 minutes while his car beeps at him for not buckling up

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
11/21/23 3:52 p.m.
gixxeropa said:

This car sounds like my nightmare, I can't stand things beeping at me, to the point I'd rather walk. My dad however would get along fine, as he can drive down the road for 30 minutes while his car beeps at him for not buckling up

I tried to move it with the door open last week. It immediately locked the parking brake and wouldn't let me move until I both closed the door AND buckled up. All because I wanted a little more room between the car and the garage door to open the hatch.

I *hope* some of this stuff is defeatable via menu option diving. Honestly I feel bad ragging on it for this stuff because it's a solid and satisfying automobile, but the experience is brought down a few clicks by the constant minor annoyances of "assistance."

And, to be clear, I'm not completely anti-nanny. I think there's plenty of electronic assists that make life better and safer for a lot of drivers. I just think they need to be a little more transparent than the execution on this vehicle seems to be.

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
11/21/23 3:53 p.m.
Mndsm said:
JG Pasterjak said:
Mndsm said:

Watching with interest. This exact vehicle (down to the trim level, though we're hoping for either Nori green or that goofy champagne color ) is #1 on swmbos shopping list. 

 

How is it from a distance driving standpoint, comfortwise? I know they feel very...cockpitty inside, does that translate into feeling cramped after a while? 

Honestly everything dynamic about it is fine. I'd happily take it on a long journey and I never really felt cramped, and I'm pretty sensitive to claustrophobic cockpits. really the biggest annoyance would be the constant scolds that I'm not paying enough attention to the road. Honestly I never could figure out exactly what it wanted. If I stared straight ahead, it scolded me. If I scanned the road side to side, it scolded me. I'm starting to think it just doesn't like me.

Maybe it thought the bird was in charge? 

 

The safety nanny thing would be annoying as heck. I'll be curious as to what the return on MPG is at the end of this. Does it have the Levinson package? Does that stereo rip like it used to? Will it scold me if I play deathcore? 

It didn't mind KMFDM, so it would probably give you a pass for some Whitechapel.

Mndsm
Mndsm MegaDork
11/21/23 4:02 p.m.

Alright. So....we need to shut the safety E36 M3 off, but the rest of it is a proper toyota excellent automobile. Good to know. 

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
11/21/23 9:34 p.m.
Mndsm said:

Alright. So....we need to shut the safety E36 M3 off, but the rest of it is a proper toyota excellent automobile. Good to know. 

Nailed it. And it really isn't the safety stuff per se, as it's all valuable assistance for modern roadways and modern drivers. But some of the implementation of systems that should be transparent is decidedly noticeable, and that detracts from what would otherwise be an excellent experience.

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