2023 Lexus RX Debuts With Dramatic Styling, 367-HP RX 500h F Sport Flagship
A slammed crossover with 367 hybridized horsepower is something we didn’t even know we wanted.
Not long after it debuted, the Lexus RX asserted itself as the Japanese luxury brand’s best-seller. Even as the the current model bows out, it sold over 120,000 units in the US and Canada in 2021, almost double that of its closest mid-sized luxury SUV competitor. Needless to say, the 2023 Lexus NX, which debuted at Toyota’s Plano, Texas headquarters late Tuesday, is a very big deal. With the fifth generation RX, Lexus is further broadening the appeal of its bread-and-butter model.SEE ALSO: 2022 Lexus NX First Drive Review: See Ya Later, Touchpad
The look is certainly evolutionary. Lexus has changed up its spindle grille design, with a frameless setup now sitting front and center. Intricate three-dimensional detailing gives it an organic look, like the grille has just rippled to the surface of the bumper. Squarer headlights align with the latest style at Lexus, while maintaining the L-shaped DRL signature. Moving around the side of the 2023 RX there’s fewer character lines, keeping the flanks clean. The L shape continues in the narrow taillights, which join together for the first time on the RX, complete with a “LEXUS” wordmark along the light bar. Lexus has saved the “floating” roof design of the fourth-gen RX here, and while the wheelbase is 2.4 inches (60 millimeters) longer than before, the rear overhang decreases by the same amount, so overall length stays level. We still can’t get over just how low the whole ride looks, especially in RX 500h F Sport Performance guise.
Yes, you read that right. Lexus is expanding its F Sport Performance portfolio with the 2023 RX. The first hybrid model under the banner, the RX 500h F Sport Performance marries the brand’s torquey 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder to a pair of electric motors, one at each axle. Utilizing a six-speed automatic and the brand’s fast-reacting Direct4 all-wheel drive system, combined outputs are 367 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque. The F Sport treatment also brings with it a unique front grille and body-colored trim, huge 21-inch alloy wheels, and six-piston front brake calipers. Lexus quotes a dash to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 6.1 seconds, plus a combined fuel economy figure of 26 mpg (9.0 L/100 km).SEE ALSO: 2022 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance First Drive Review: Worth the Ticket
That’s just one of four 2023 RX drivetrain options. Like the Toyota Highlander with which it shares its TNGA-K platform, the RX is moving to an exclusively four-cylinder engine lineup. The lone non-hybrid option is the RX 350, which runs the afore-mentioned 2.4-liter sans hybrid bits. It’s good for the same 275 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque as the NX 350, with an eight-speed auto sending power to either the front or all four wheels (only the latter in Canada). Meanwhile, the RX 350h uses the brand’s familiar 2.5-liter naturally-aspirated motor with battery assistance and a CVT. Here it’s good for a strong 246 hp, with Lexus quoting a peak of 233 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is an estimated 33 mpg (7.1 L/100 km) combined.
Lexus will also offer an RX 450h+ plug-in, details of which will arrive later in the year. We expect it to closely mirror the smaller NX 450h+.SEE ALSO: Jeep Grand Cherokee vs Land Rover Discovery Comparison
Depending on trim, the RX is up to 198 pounds (90 kilograms) lighter than before. Lexus says it has increased rigidity for a more refined driving experience, and the GA-K platform allows for more rear legroom as well as improved ingress and egress.
Speaking of trims, the RX will come in six grades in America, and seven in Canada. These include the additions of the afore-mentioned F Sport Performance, the Premium+ in the US, and Ultra-Luxury in Canada. Both markets will offer 10 exterior colors, with six interior color schemes and four trim design options.
Inside, the RX follows the NX’s lead with a tidier, wraparound dashboard design. We’ve been singing the praises of the latest Lexus Multimedia Touchscreen Display since it debuted in the compact SUV last year, and the RX will also offer it in two sizes, the larger one measuring 14.0 inches. Also part of the package are a fully digital instrument cluster, available head-up display, and multi-color ambient lighting. One ingredient we’re less enthused about is the e-Latch system, an electronic door handle.
Lexus Safety System+ 3.0 will be standard on every 2023 RX. This includes an automated emergency braking system that accounts for pedestrians, motorcycles, and intersection support; lane departure alert and assist; Emergency Driving Stop System; and full-range dynamic cruise control. The Advanced Park assist now joins the RX lineup, with both parallel and stall parking support. While not a safety assist, the RX will feature an available Digital Key, allowing owners to share vehicle access with friends and family via smartphone.
As before, the RX will be built right at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada plant in Cambridge, Ontario. Expect further details on the lineup, including pricing, before it goes on sale later this year.
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Kyle began his automotive obsession before he even started school, courtesy of a remote control Porsche and various LEGO sets. He later studied advertising and graphic design at Humber College, which led him to writing about cars (both real and digital). He is now a proud member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), where he was the Journalist of the Year runner-up for 2021.
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