The Lexus RX is the luxury brand’s most popular model in North America. And for good reason. It’s a right-sized, well-balanced, and luxurious offering. At a price that’s realistic for many. A large portion of this Lexus model’s sales are in the hybrid option, which despite its premium adds a lot of balance and efficiency to the RX. In short, there’s a lot of reasons for the RX to be a top seller.
The 2023 model year marks the fifth-generation of the RX, bringing a completely new design and a totally fresh outlook for the crossover. The things that keep Lexus buyers coming back–like a great interior experience, balanced drive quality, and right-sized usefulness–are still there. Added on is even better efficiency, a newly-usable infotainment interface, and all-new styling cues.
Some might think that the new look for the RX is a bit off-putting, but it’s a surprisingly bold jump for Lexus and it looks very good. The large grille is tempered a lot by the new headlamps, flatter face, and hood curvature. It’s sleek and bold up front with elegant lines along the sides and a less bulbous badonk at the back. The roof is a bit more flat, but the rear spoiler and emphasized rake of the windshield offset this to keep things sporty.
We like the new look for the Lexus RX.
Things under the hood have changed as well. The previous-generation RX hybrid had a six-cylinder engine mated to the electrics for the hybrid drive. That’s been dropped in favor of a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and beefier electrics to back it up. This results in slightly more horsepower (246) and a little more torque (233 lb-ft). The continuously variable transmission (CVT) that has been with the RX since near the beginning is still there, but gets a lot of reprogramming to be far more responsive in this new 350h. An electric motor on the rear axle adds all-wheel drive propulsion to finish the drivetrain.
The new drivetrain means that the 2023 Lexus RX 350h is a little zippier but remains just as smooth and comforting as the outgoing setup. Nothing but upsides, really. Fuel efficiency is slightly better, but not by much, so gains there aren’t a selling point.
Standard equipment on the 2023 RX 350h comes in a long list. LED lighting everywhere, rain-sensing wipers, heated exterior mirrors, a power liftgate, keyless entry with proximity sensing, tri-zone climate, ambient interior lighting, and a lot of other things are on that list.
As is the new 9.8-inch infotainment touchscreen. You read that right. A touchscreen. Gone is the clunky and downright terrible touchpad thing that used to be the lowlight of every Lexus review. Instead, a right-sized touchscreen with wireless CarPlay and Android Auto is now the standard and it’s a huge upgrade from before.
Lexus can now claim to be at least on par with most luxury models for infotainment ease of use. Functionality? Well, there’s still some catching up to do, but this new system is a huge leap forward. It’s like comparing a flip phone to a smartphone. Night and day.
Drive quality for the 2023 Lexus 350h is very good, with enough engagement for most drivers to enjoy the experience but no so much that one feels obligated to be keyed up for every input. Maneuverability is good. So is visibility, which was also a concern in previous models of the RX for some drivers.
The new generation of the Lexus RX is a nice step towards the future of Toyota’s luxury brand. As its sales flagship, the RX needs to remain competitive and these changes definitely keep it that way. And as per usual, the hybrid model in the RX 350h is the better choice in the options for this crossover model.
This review first appeared on DriveModeShow.com.