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CPO 2013 Lexus RX 350: Is the Cabin Cool Enough?

If you’re buying a used car these days, one of the main concerns is that its cabin technology will soon be obsolete. That wasn’t really an issue before the advent of infotainment systems with computerlike display screens, but now that these systems are commonplace, you need to think long and hard about whether they’re going to withstand the test of time.

Our long-term CPO 2013 Lexus RX 350 is a case in point. With the next-generation RX’s debut scheduled for the upcoming New York International Auto Show, you know that a completely revamped infotainment setup is right around the corner. Sure, you can save some money on a current-gen CPO RX 350, but does that really make sense when a technological revolution is likely in the near future?

With this dilemma in mind, let’s take a look at the cabin technology that our CPO 2013 Lexus RX 350 provides.

Standard Features

The 2013 RX was pretty well equipped right out of the box, providing standard items such as keyless entry/start, Bluetooth with streaming audio and USB audio input. That stuff’s not going out of style anytime soon. The Bluetooth connection works quite well, by the way, with none of the familiar hiccups: For example, some systems have difficulty with directions from the Google Maps app, getting mired in a vicious cycle of phone calls from the app every time a new step is vocalized, but the RX 350’s Bluetooth software switches back and forth with ease.

On the other hand, there are some throwback features in the 2013 RX’s cabin, including rudimentary trip-computer graphics between the gauges and an incongruous digital clock that will be familiar to 1994 Camry owners. It’s not thoroughly modern, in other words, but it’s close enough that you likely won’t feel like you’re driving yesterday’s news, and it’s certainly functional, a strength Lexus seems to focus on more than other luxury brands.

Better With Bells and Whistles?

You’ll notice that we haven’t discussed the 2013 RX’s infotainment system because it only kicks into high gear on models like ours that are equipped with the Navigation package. That package includes a large integrated display screen in the dashboard, a rearview camera, Lexus Enform smartphone-app compatibility, a navigation system and the Remote Touch Interface with a mouselike controller on the console. This is the 2013 RX at its technological best, and we’re not going to lie: It’s a mixed bag.

On the bright side, the rearview camera is close to a must when you’re driving a bulky crossover in tight quarters, and the Enform apps include handy services such as Pandora Internet Radio and OpenTable dinner reservations, so that’s all good. We actually like Remote Touch too, as it’s surprisingly easy to move the cursor around the screen and select desired functions. This makes our used/certified Lexus feel more like a new car.

Unfortunately, the screen’s graphics are very basic, giving the system a somewhat dated look, and thanks to the screen’s increased dimensions and its dependence on Remote Touch, you’ll likely be interacting with it quite a lot. It may sound odd, but if you want the 2013 RX that’s going to age the best technologically, the relatively simple models without the Navigation package might be your best bet. This will save you a little cash, as well.

Keeping Up With the BMWs and Benzes

The German competition has long had the infotainment thing figured out, offering beautiful wide-screen displays and crisp, richly detailed graphics. Compared to those setups, the 2013 RX 350 with Navigation comes off seeming a little plain, but you do get compelling app-based features. Once Lexus introduced Enform, that effectively brought the brand’s tech into the 21st century, so getting a 3-year-old CPO Lexus doesn’t require that you forego modern tech, but does that mean it’s worth waiting for the new 2016 RX? Maybe, but maybe not. The smart money says Lexus will pull out all the stops to close the technology gap with the latest model. Given the relative newness of Enform, however, it will likely be an evolution of that system, not a complete reinvention.

One more thing to consider is price. It’s easy to talk about tech in a vacuum, but the practical reality is that the all-new version of the RX is likely to be quite a bit more than a 3-year-old SUV. Right now on Autotrader, there are many low-mileage 2012 and 2013 Lexus RX 350 models listed for just over $30,000. A nicely equipped, brand-new 2015 RX 350 is about $50,000. If we know Lexus, they’ll keep the price close to the current model’s, but that’s still a pretty big gap.

If you want the newest and latest, you’ll have to wait for the 2016 Lexus RX, but just like houses, clothes or tech, cool stuff costs more. We’re tempted to wait and see, but if you simply have to have a Lexus in the meantime, a base 2013 RX 350 without the Navigation package should prove to be a satisfying choice, especially when you consider the extra 3 years of warranty coverage you’ll get by opting for a CPO Lexus.

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