SINCE THE LATE 1990S, the Lexus RX has dominated the sales side of the SUV upscale market with its luxurious ride, somewhat conservative mien and bulletproof reputation for reliability.
For 2016, Lexus' biggest seller has taken the fight to its European rivals (Mercedes, Audi, BMW, Volvo, Land Rover and now Jaguar). With a bold, new design, an aspirated 295-horsepowered motor and a formidable interior (the leather dashboard is stitched by hand, a practice often seen only in uber-luxury cars like Rolls Royce), the RX 350 and the brand are serious at taking on the competition.
Despite its huge number of loyal buyers who claim not to be tempted by the German brands, Lexus has made no bones about not only securing its fans, but taking clients from its rivals. Based on my week with the RX 350 F SPORT, they have a point.
With a new, daring grill and rakish lines, the RX is pushing the envelope in design. It looks futuristic, like something that came out of "Star Wars."
But can it really take on the Germans?
As mentioned, since 1998 the RX has been a runaway success. It's Lexus main seller, and customers are very happy with it, plain and simple.
But can the RX best the German brands? Can it really take on the deep, safety ethos of Volvo or the beauty of Jaguar's new F Pace?
After spending a week riding the RX 350 F SPORT on Dallas and Fort Worth's congested streets, riding a commute from one city to another, I believe we would have to rephrase the question: Can the rival brands compete with the RX?
The Jaguar F Pace maybe slightly more attractive with its upper-crust Brit charm, the BMW X5 could be faster by a hair, the Audi Q5 can rival its interior and the Cadillac XTS can look just as good with its ostentatious American presence. But in overall goodness, all are playing catch up to the RX.
And the bunch knows it.
Let's face it: more than 100,000 RX sales and their customers per year, can't be wrong. Perhaps its only drawback is that the RX is more ubiquitous than the rest of the brands. That's it.
Despite the redesign and German-fighter hype, the RX remains true to its roots: a family vehicle. This is tailor-made for Latino families, which tend to be larger than many other families.
Yes, this small, nimble tank can reach 60 miles per hour in 7.7 seconds, it has enough panache to look great coming out of your gated community and aggressive enough to give BMW X3 owners second thought...