Lexus, Toyota’s elite brand, was the first manufacturer to bring car-based luxury to a sport-utility vehicle rich in comfort and amenities. It conquered the world. The latest model continues the very civilized experience.

Despite hordes of imitators, the Lexus RX crossover lineup has continued to win the loyalty of its buyers by delivering a driving experience that accentuates comfort, tranquility, and luxury, topped off with superb reliability. The RX has long been Lexus’ top seller, and the redesigned model faithfully carries the torch, even with its new, slightly menacing grill and exterior styling.

The 3.5-liter V6 in the RX 350, coupled with an eight-speed automatic, has the smooth and ample power delivery that you expect in a premium SUV. The hybrid version offers added boost and better fuel economy, as it combines the one-two punch of the gas engine and electric drive.

The RX 450h’s hybrid transmission seamlessly puts power to the pavement, allowing this SUV to dash from 0 to 60 mph in a quick 7.5 seconds, while delivering 29 mpg overall—truly impressive in a class for which the V6’s 22 mpg is considered a benchmark.

Read our complete Lexus RX road test and check our reviews of the 2016 BMW 750i, 2016 Honda Civic, and 2016 Lincoln MKX.

2016 Lexus RX 350 in studio

You also can poke along in the 450h on electric power only, up to 40 mph—provided you apply a light foot; otherwise, the gas engine kicks in.

Unfortunately, the RX doesn’t reward drivers with the crisp handling or sharp steering possessed by crossovers offered by the German brands.

In corners, the soft suspension quickly makes the car lean over, giving the uncomfortable impression that the RX doesn’t hug the road well. It felt clumsy when pushed to its cornering limits—not unsafe, but not confidence-­inspiring, either. And the RX’s brakes produced wet stopping distances that were about a car-length longer than with most luxury SUVs.

2016 Lexus RX 350 interior

HIGHS: Quietness, comfortable ride, fuel economy, fit and finish
LOWS: Agility, stopping distances, frustrating mouselike controller, rear visibility
POWERTRAIN: RX 350: 295-hp, 3.5-liter V6; 8-speed automatic; all-wheel drive. RX 450h: 308-hp, 3.5-liter V6 hybrid; continuously variable transmission (CVT); all-wheel drive
FUEL: 22 mpg (350), 29 mpg (450h)
PRICE: $42,850-$57,995

We also drove an “F Sport” variant, which includes a stiffer suspension and firmer seats. But it only ends up compromising ride comfort, rather than making the RX sportier.

What the RX does do—coddle folks with reliable calmness—it does extremely well. Continuing long-standing RX hallmarks, the interior is bank-vault quiet, and the ride is soft, cushy, and insulating. The interior is tastefully done with materials that look elegant and plush. The seats are comfortable—nay, downright soporific. Big wood panels ornament the center console. The rear seat is roomy; the cargo hold, useful.

A word about styling. Not everyone will warm to the body’s sharp creases and gaping grill. The company tried to make the bland RX edgier, but the pendulum may have swung back through the wall of the design studio. It also means diminished rearward visibility. We would definitely buy the blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert—which is optional on the RX 350 and standard on the hybrid.

Also, the infotainment controls are an ergonomic mess. Though some controls can be managed with buttons and knobs, many functions require fiddling with a fussy mouse. As soon as any jostling occurs in the car, the mouse has a hard time placing the screen’s cursor onto the task you desire. It’s unnecessarily distracting.

While the avant-garde styling may not be everyone’s cup of tea, the new RX continues to be a genteel, cosseting vehicle that’s likely to give years of headache-free ownership.

2016 Lexus RX 350 cupholders and controller
It takes time to master the fiddly mouse used to control the infotainment system.

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the May 2016 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.