2023 Lexus RX Brings Plug-in Power to a Longtime Luxury Staple
Three hybrid variants will be available, including a performance-oriented version.
Andrew KrokReviews Editor / Cars
Cars are Andrew's jam, as is strawberry. After spending years as a regular ol' car fanatic, he started working his way through the echelons of the automotive industry, starting out as social-media director of a small European-focused garage outside of Chicago. From there, he moved to the editorial side, penning several written features in Total 911 Magazine before becoming a full-time auto writer, first for a local Chicago outlet and then for CNET Cars.
The Lexus RX helped define the luxury crossover we see just about everywhere now. But since crossovers can get stale faster than a loaf of sourdough, it's on automakers to keep things fresh and interesting to consumers. Enter the fifth-generation 2023 Lexus RX, which is chock-full of newness, whether it's the underlying platform, the powertrain options or the cabin tech.
Lexus on Tuesday unveiled the 2023 RX luxury SUV. It's a fair departure from the fourth-generation RX, ditching its higher-riding appearance for more body-colored elements that help bring the design lower to the ground. Both the 19- and 21-inch wheel options fill the wheel wells nicely, but perhaps the most striking part of its new design is the pared-down "spindle" grille, which loses a fair bit of visual mass up top. The silhouette and rear end give off some serious big-hatchback vibes.
Underpinning this new body is the Toyota GA-K platform, which can also be found on the latest versions of the Toyota RAV4 and Highlander, as well as the Lexus ES and NX, in addition to another dozen cars in the US and abroad. In the move to this new platform, the RX sheds 198 pounds and gains some overall rigidity. The wheelbase is 2.36 inches longer, but the rear overhang is also 2.36 inches shorter, which means the whole shebang is the same size as it was in its fourth generation. That extended wheelbase also means more rear legroom and a lower load point for cargo, making it easier to shove more stuff in the trunk.
The interior is vastly fancier than it was before, with a number of soft-touch materials scattered throughout the cabin. The dashboard extends behind the screen, where ambient lighting creates a pleasant effect. The way it sweeps into the door panel is also pretty great. The doors themselves pick up the same e-Latch tech as the new NX, where electronics take over the latching and unlatching -- but don't worry, there's always a mechanical backup. The steering wheel controls have been tweaked and simplified, and the available 14-inch infotainment screen blends in nicely with its digital gauge cluster neighbor.
Lexus also gave the 2023 RX a variety of new powertrain setups, most of which are electrified. The base RX 350, available in both front- and all-wheel drive, uses a 2.4-liter turbocharged inline-4 to produce 275 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque. The RX 350h offers a 2.5-liter I4 as part of a gas-electric hybrid system producing 246 hp and 233 lb-ft. The new RX 500h F Sport Performance hybrid puts the 2.4-liter engine back under the hood, but it combines with a rear-mounted electric motor to make 367 hp and 406 lb-ft, which is nothing to shake a stick at. A new plug-in hybrid will be offered, as well, but Lexus isn't giving out any details on that variant just yet.
However, Lexus did offer some estimated fuel-economy figures for the aforementioned trim. The automaker is aiming for a combined economy of 24 mpg for the RX 350, 33 mpg for the RX 350h and 26 mpg for the 500h.
Since a Lexus is also a Toyota product, it's no surprise the 2023 RX is loaded with standard safety systems out the wazoo. Every RX carries the Lexus Safety System 3.0 suite of active and passive driver aids. This includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, motorcycle detection, adaptive cruise control with curve-speed management, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist. A new parking aid will allow head-first parking maneuvers, rather than reversing into position every time.
The 2023 Lexus RX should go on sale at the end of the 2022 calendar year, and pricing will be announced closer to that time.