The 2013 Lexus RX 350 F Sport. Photo courtesy of Lexus.

The 2013 Lexus RX 350 F Sport debuts at NYIAS

The 2013 Lexus RX 350 F Sport made its North American debut at NYIAS today, revealing optional all-wheel-drive, an F Sport tuned suspension and an eight-speed transmission at the beck and call of paddle shifters.

“The RX 350 F SPORT challenges pre-conceived notions about luxury crossover utility vehicles,” said Mark Templin, Lexus group vice president and general manager. “RX F SPORT is not just an appearance package, but a full-fledged performance package.”

Though perennially a pleasure to drive and ready to tackle the urban morass in any and all weather, the new RX 350 F Sport promises to up the ante with a new electronically controlled transmission mated to the 3.5-liter V6 engine.

The combination produces 270 horsepower at 6,200 rpm, benefitting from the use of miniature high-flow linear solenoids that allow precise shifting and clutch operation. The torque converter has a new low-speed lockup damper that enables lock-up throughout the gear range to improve fuel economy.

The 2013 Lexus RX 350 F SPORT also has an electronically controlled Active Torque Control AWD assuring surefooted performance in inclement weather. ATC utilizes an electric coupling before the rear differential to vary the distribution of torque front to rear from 100:0 to 50:50. When accelerating or on a slippery surface, torque is instantly routed to all four wheels. At speed, torque is restricted to the front wheels, enhancing fuel efficiency.

EPA ratings of 19 mpg city and 25 mpg highway are expected to result from the 2013 RX 350 F Sport’s newly engineered performance package.

That includes a stiffer suspension thanks to firmer shocks and springs that promise a compelling driving experience. A new lateral damper system serves to minimize vibrations, making the steering feel more exactly linear while increasing overall comfort. Instead of the usual fixed bracing, the 2013 Lexus RX 350F Sport uses dampers front and rear that provide a more rigid feel while actually producing greater flexibility.

VDIM handling technology comes standard and governs the entire vehicle’s dynamic handling systems including the Anti-lock Brakes, Brake Assist, Vehicle Stability Control and Traction Control along with the electronic throttle control system.

The new look incorporates the Lexus spindle grill in a design that is crisp and clean, with fewer lines in a sleeker body intended to slide through the air with the greatest of ease. The front features an exclusive F Sport mesh grille treatment and the vehicle rests at the ready on split five-spoke 19-inch wheels with a dark graphite finish. Exclusive F Sport badging identifies the 2013 Lexus RX350 F Sport as a cut above the rest.

Inside the new RX 350 is an elegant study in classic black and white. Perforated black leather-trimmed seats are dotted with white perforation holes, while contrasting stitching accentuates the seats, center console and door armrests. Matching Ebony Bird’s Eye Maple adds just the right natural touch. The headliner is black along with a perforated leather-wrapped wheel proclaiming the SUV’s membership in the exclusive Lexus F brotherhood. Aluminum foot pedals complete the look of a winner.

Naturally as a Lexus, the RX F SPORT warmly accommodates numerous audio input sources via Bluetooth Audio wireless connectivity and the usual plugs. An integrated SiriusXM Satellite Radio receiver comes standard, along with a 90-day trial subscription included. Standard voice recognition allows phone use both incoming and outgoing via the system.

The Hard Disc navigation system uses a highly developed voice recognition system, accepting casual-language inputs on more functions. The system includes the celebrated Lexus Enform with Safety Connect that comes with a complimentary one-year-long trial subscription. Yes you can download the contacts from your phone. The system is controlled by a new, second generation, more intuitive Remote Touch Interface that reduces eye movement and allows users to operate myriad functions with reduced attention loss or distraction, including the available smartphone-based apps.

Enform works with iPhone, Android and Blackberry communicators. SiriusXM data services also offer a complimentary one-year trial, but separate audio and data subscriptions are required.

The Lexus RX 350 F SPORT will roll in and out of dealer showrooms beginning this summer. We’re thinking they’d better build a bunch of them.