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2021 Lexus RX 350 F Sport. Photo: Lexus

The 2021 Lexus RX 350 all-wheel-drive F Sport is a midsized luxury SUV that tries to look young and athletic, but isn't.

The big picture: Way back in 1999, the RX introduced the first "crossover" — an SUV built on a car chassis.

  • Back then, it was a tradeoff by engineers who didn't have a truck chassis to work with.
  • But people loved it, and the RX set the standard for all the crossovers that followed.

Yes, but: Today's RX seems to be struggling to keep up with the competition. It puts on a brave face, with sharp angles and creases that suggest a youthful swagger. But it's all cosmetic.

  • The F Sport performance package, starting at $49,675, adds sportier tweaks, but under the hood, it's the same V-6 engine that comes standard on other RXs.
  • At least the interior remains quintessential Lexus, with tasteful styling and premium comfort.
  • Another plus: Lexus got rid of the aggravating trackpad-controlled infotainment system and replaced it with more traditional touchscreens.

There are some added safety benefits in the 2021 Lexus, too.

  • Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are now standard equipment, joining other driver-assist features like adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, and forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking.
  • On a two-lane, 35-mph stretch in my neighborhood, the lane-keeping system kept wrestling me for control, to the point that I was tempted to turn it off — defeating the purpose of the active safety technology.

The bottom line: Lexus' loyal customers will come back for the premium quality and customer service, but if they're looking for driving thrills, they won't find them in the RX 350 F Sport.

Go deeper

33 mins ago - World

COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming

Recreated from Our World in Data; Chart: Axios Visuals

South Africa alerted the world to the Omicron variant. Now data out of South Africa may serve as a warning of what we're facing.

Driving the news: South Africa recorded 11,535 new cases Thursday with 22.4% of tests coming back positive — up from an average of about 300 new cases, with a 2% test positivity rate 10 days earlier. The country's top public health officials expect that exponential rise to continue as Omicron rapidly becomes the dominant variant.

BuzzFeed to go public, after shareholders approve SPAC deal

Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for BuzzFeed

BuzzFeed is set to become publicly traded on Monday, after shareholders of a SPAC called 890 Fifth Avenue Partners voted to approve a previously-announced merger.

Yes, but: The vast majority of the money the SPAC raised in January was yanked, a signal that investors aren't very optimistic about BuzzFeed's future prospects.

Omicron cases confirmed in 4 U.S. states

A healthcare worker inserts a Covid-19 rapid test into a machine in Denver, Colorado. Photo: Daniel Brenner/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Five cases of the newly-discovered Omicron variant were detected in New York, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday, making New York the fourth state with confirmed cases.

The latest: In addition to New York, the variant has been confirmed in California, Colorado and Minnesota.