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Consumer Reports Names 2016 Lexus RX 350 Best Luxury SUV

The redesigned 2016 Lexus RX 350 had a tough act to follow but seems to be keeping up the tradition.

Consumer Reports (CR) is not shy about calling out Lexus when it doesn’t like its vehicles. Last month, the organization named the compact Lexus NX 200t a Worst Pick after a test ride left the reviewer feeling like the car was cramped and cheap. This month, the Lexus’ NX 200t’s big brother, the 2016 RX 350 brings some pride back to the family being named to Consumer Reports 10 Top Picks of 2016. Here’s how the RX 350 got there.

CR says that it relies on four criteria in order to name a Top Pick. First, the vehicle must do well on the organization’s subjective road test. We won’t hide the fact that CR found the two RX models it tested to be “Quite dull to drive.” The testers also gave the remote touch interface, the frustrating mouse-type thing you control the infotainment with, a thumbs down. So how did a vehicle that is not exciting to drive that is saddled with a frustrating infotainment system win? Simple. The ownership experience.
Premium buyers want vehicles that don’t break. The RX 350 doesn’t. They also want to look forward to visiting the dealership rather than dreading it. Lexus owners do. CR gave Lexus’ customer service a thumbs up. A humongous pool of happy owners gave the Lexus its safety rating.

That’s still not enough to get on the Top Pick list. A vehicle must be among the safest in its class. The Lexus RX 350 has that covered in two ways. First, it is one of the nine best vehicles for actual safety results measured by IIHS. The RX 350 AWD had a “zero” driver death record per million registered vehicles in this study. The 2016 RX 350 also earns the industry’s highest safety rating of Top Safety Pick Plus. If you’re still not convinced here is a picture and story of an old lady that drove her RX 350 off a 4-story building and walked away. You can’t fake safety.

Last on CR’s evaluation list is owner satisfaction. The 80% of people that have one who would buy one again is a very high rating, but it is not the highest for all SUVs. So, it is RX 350 for the win not by winning one category outright, but being strong in all categories.

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Mark Day (not verified)    March 11, 2016 - 12:16AM

Better value: Toyota Highlander – higher CR score, better handling, no mouse-like controller, and priced about $13k lower. But, "prestige" not included.

John Goreham    March 11, 2016 - 10:54AM

In reply to by Mark Day (not verified)

Mark, your comments are always spot-on. I might add that both have the same excellent safety credentials as well. I owned both a Highlander and an RX 350 at the same time for a few years and I agree with you. One advantage the Lexus does have is the service experience. Lexus here in my area has loaner cars (they have 96 of them and 45 service bays), a free café, and offers free car washes to their Lexus customers any time. However, I take my Highlander there and I enjoy some of those benefits. I just can't get warranty or recall stuff done on the Highlander there. I'm not sure if this is offered to everyone. I still own a separate Lexus.
Thanks for commenting. Good perspective!