2022 Infiniti QX60 Autograph AWD vs. 2022 Lexus RX350 AWD F Sport: Japanese luxury SUV battle

This week: Lexus RX350

Price: $62,885 as tested. Panoramic-view monitor with park assist and rear cross-traffic braking, $1,365; head-up display, $600; panoramic moonroof with aluminum roof rails, $500; Cold Weather Package and wireless charger, $200 each; power rear door with kick sensor, $150. More options mentioned throughout.

Conventional wisdom: Car and Driver liked that it is “surprisingly fuel efficient, plenty of standard safety tech, very comfortable ride,” but not the “annoying infotainment touch pad, relaxed driving demeanor doesn’t match aggressive styling, slightly slower than rival SUVs.”

Marketer’s pitch: No real tagline on the website.

Reality: Class is in session at the Old School.

» READ MORE: 2022 Infiniti QX60 begins an Asian SUV comparison

What’s new: Oscar Wilde once wrote: “When the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers.” I thought of this line and my own Mr. Driver’s Seatness while touring around in the Lexus RX350.

Learning the latest automotive technology, I resist the urge to moan, “But why does everything have to change?” My focus is on how it enhances or interferes with the driver’s main responsibility: watching the actual road.

Then along comes Lexus, and everything feels just like it always did. I could have been in the 2022 RX350 or the 2020 Lexus RX450h or even the 2016 Lexus RX350.

The RX has not gotten a redesign since the 2016 model year, and it’s starting to show. But is this really a bad thing? (Find out next season, when the RX gets a redesign for 2023.)

Driver’s Seat: From this viewpoint, it’s not a bad thing. I made the usual oohs and aahs while driving this Lexus, enjoying the bright-red leather-covered seat, the support, and the heating or ventilation as needed. The round dial gauges and analog clock complete the throwback feel.

Up to speed: The 295 horses from the 3.5-liter V-6 — the same since 2016 — work in unison to move the medium-sized SUV. The off-the-line performance of 6.9 seconds to 60 mph may not be the fastest rocket, but the RX350 will smoothly take drivers to 55 or 60 in a 40-mph zone in Lancaster County or to 80 or 90 on highways headed to King of Prussia or Philadelphia. Be diligent about watching your speed.

Shifty: The eight-speed automatic transmission works quietly and smoothly, at least in Sport Plus mode. I tried it on a highway trip in regular mode and found it to be a little balky now and again, especially when deciding on a gear while passing or playing Beat the Green Arrow at intersections.

Of course the shifter is the same as it ever was — simple PRND on the console with a manual mode to the left. Paddle shifters are also available.

On the road: It’s still an SUV, but country roads can be a lot of fun in the RX350. Highway rides are smooth and easy, and town is fine, as well, in any mode.

Friends and stuff: The rear seat provides nice accommodations, with plenty of headroom, legroom and foot room. The center seat will be a little less generous but only a bit.

Of course, last week’s Infiniti had three rows; drivers must spring for the RX350L to get a tight place for more riders here, about $5,000 more for the F Sport version.

Cargo space is reported as 16 cubic feet with the seat up and 32.6 when it’s folded, seemingly about half the QX60′s. But automakers use different calculation methods; they’re actually fairly similar in size.

Towing capacity is just 3,500 pounds, slight more than half the QX60′s, and no manufacturer measurement differences account for this.

Play some tunes: Lexus has evolved its stereo system to include a workable 12.3-inch touchscreen and volume and tuning dials, after years of attempting a touch pad with frustrating results and before that, a joystick and buttons.

Sound from the Mark Levinson 15-speaker sound system ($3,365) is phenomenal, an A, perfect for playing Bob Seger’s “Still the Same” or “Old Time Rock and Roll” (in keeping with the Lexus theme).

» READ MORE: Lexus RX450h: But it’s got a great personality. No, really.

Keeping warm and cool: Up-down buttons control the temperature, and other buttons control fan speed and air source. I’m partial to dials, so this is a bit of a sticking point for me.

Night shift: The premium triple-beam LED headlamps with washers ($1,675) offer great visibility for nighttime driving. The interior lights are as subtle as a Lexus and don’t interfere with the view of the road.

Fuel economy: I averaged around 20 mpg in several trips on the highway and in the country, which is not a high as C&D advertised, but still way better than 17 in the Infiniti. A 2020 RX450h hybrid hit 26 mpg in Mr. Driver’s Seat testing.

Where it’s built: Cambridge, Ontario.

How it’s built: Consumer Reports says the RX reliability is a 4 out of 5, and it’s historically been mostly 5s.

In the end: Infiniti has turned the QX60 into a competitor, and it’s the only choice if you need three rows and more towing. Still, the RX350 has the reliability and offers better fuel economy. The 2023 may be worth waiting for, but I bet I’ll hate it — at first.