Lexus continues to soar with 2023 RX Hybrid

2023 Lexus RX Hybrid
2023 Lexus RX Hybrid

There aren’t many luxury SUVs that have had as successful a run as the Lexus RX – 24 years of uninterrupted sales dominance. That’s in part because the RX is the OG of the group, but also because Lexus knows not to fix what isn’t broken. So while the 2023 RX is indeed all-new from the ground up, it doesn’t stray far from the same basic formula.

On the surface, the 2023 RX still looks a lot like the previous version. The same basic shape and features carry over, but the styling is sharper and more refined upon further inspection. And while comfort is still the name of the game inside, once you dig deeper, you’ll notice meaningful changes to the material quality, technology, and safety equipment.

A vehicle’s ratings are relative only to its own segment and not the new-vehicle market as a whole.

Quick Stats 2023 Lexus RX 350h Luxury AWD
Engine: 2.5-Liter Four-Cylinder Hybrid
Output: 246 Horsepower / 233 Pound-Feet
Efficiency: 37 City / 34 Hybrid / 36 Combined
Trim Base Price: $50,150
As-Tested Price: $62,725
2023 Lexus RX Hybrid (rear view)
2023 Lexus RX Hybrid (rear view)

Design

People that bought the previous RX should like the 2023 model’s familiar aesthetics. The new pointed nose is the biggest change; the extra sheet metal over top helps reduce the spindle grille’s once-daunting size while additional detailing on the front bumper gives the RX a more athletic look.

An ever-trending light bar lines the rear end with a new “LEXUS” wordmark stretched across the trunk lid, in case you forget. And the lower portion of the bumper now features a smoother wave-like design that blends polished metal and plastic into one cohesive look. This no-cost Nori Green Pearl paint job is especially pretty, too.

The interior is eons better than it was. A cleaner console design with a smaller shifter and no more trackpad makes things feel less cluttered while Lexus designers also ditched most of the ancient buttons for a larger touchscreen with fewer knobs. There’s lots of Peppercorn brown leather, real aluminum around the vents and steering wheel, and even a suede-like texture on the door panels in the same shade as the seats.

Comfort

The Lexus RX is the king in this class when it comes to ride comfort. Even with 21-inch wheels as part of the Luxury trim, the RX shrugs at rough pavement and barely bounces over speed bumps. The Lexus RX is epically smooth on the highway.

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2023 Lexus RX Hybrid (interior)
2023 Lexus RX Hybrid (interior)

Lexus makes some great seats and the RX is no exception. These handsome leather buckets fit the driver and front passengers like a fancy leather glove with excellent power adjustability, heating, cooling, and aggressive lumbar support. One small complaint, though: there’s no massage function, even on this Luxury trim.

Interior Dimensions: Headroom, Front/Rear: Legroom, Front/Rear: Cargo Volume
2023 Lexus RX 350h 39.5 / 38.6 Inches 41.0 / 37.4 Inches 29.6 / 46.2 Cubic Feet
2022 BMW X5 40.8 / 38.7 Inches 39.8 / 37.4 Inches 33.9 / 72.3 Cubic Feet
2022 Genesis GV80 2.5T 40.2 / 38.4 Inches 41.6 / 38.7 Inches 34.9 / 84.0 Cubic Feet
2022 Mercedes-Benz GLE350 40.5 / 39.6 Inches 40.3 / 40.9 Inches 33.3 / 74.9 Cubic Feet

The only reason that RX doesn’t score a perfect 10 here is due to the clunky transition between battery and gas power. When the gas engine kicks on from EV mode to hybrid power, the engine makes a rough rumble that’s clearly audible throughout the cabin. Accelerate hard from a standstill and the RX Hybrid whines in protest.

Technology and Connectivity

Center Display: 14.0-Inch Touchscreen
Instrument Cluster Display: 7.0 Inches
Wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto: Yes

2023 Lexus RX Hybrid (interior)
2023 Lexus RX Hybrid (interior)

Rest in peace touchpad and hello hugely improved infotainment system. As with every new Lexus and Toyota product, the RX boasts the latest – and easily the automaker’s greatest – software interface. Reminiscent of a modern smartphone or tablet, the RX’s display has a clean and modern design that’s easy to parse.

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A beautiful new 14.0-inch touchscreen is the standard display in the RX Luxury model and most other trims outside of the base model, while the base model uses a 9.8-inch touchscreen. Both screens offer wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, but things like navigation, a head-up display, and the Mark Levinson stereo system are only standard on upper trims. The Premium model makes do with slightly less equipment.

The steering wheel controls of the RX are interesting. They’re traditional, apart from the fact that placing your finger atop any of them – without pressing anything – projects an image onto the HUD that tells you exactly where your finger is. This makes it easier to see what you’re clicking without looking down at the wheel.

Performance and Handling

  • Engine: 2.5-Liter Four-Cylinder Hybrid
  • Output: 246 Horsepower / 233 Pound-Feet
  • Transmission: eCVT

There’s not much to write home about in regard to the Lexus RX Hybrid’s performance accolades. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder hybrid powertrain offers barely enough oomph for the RX to accelerate with any sort of purpose. We’d go so far as to say it’s borderline slow.

2023 Lexus RX Hybrid (side view)
2023 Lexus RX Hybrid (side view)

Although the RX has never been a sporty SUV, its new ​​GA-K architecture does yield better torsional rigidity, which helps make the RX feel more composed. There’s still some body roll but far less than before, and the turn-in is noticeably quicker. If you do want something sportier, the new RX 500h F Sport Performance might be more your speed.

Safety

  • Driver Assistance Level: SAE Level 2 (Hands-On)
  • NHTSA Rating: Not Rated
  • IIHS Rating: Top Safety Pick Plus

Every 2023 RX comes standard with the Lexus Safety System 3.0. That includes things like automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, road monitoring, lane keep and lane centering, and even a collision monitoring system that can detect if you’re about to turn into oncoming traffic. The only thing you will have to pay for is traffic jam assist, an extra $650.

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The active safety integration works almost flawlessly. The systems keep the RX composed in high-traffic situations; there’s no ping-ponging in the lane or harsh braking when a vehicle ahead comes to a stop. But there are a lot of bings and bongs – safety warnings – that are overly sensitive and do get a little annoying after a while.

Fuel Economy

  • City: 37
  • Highway: 34
  • Combined: 36
Efficiency City Highway Combined
2023 Lexus RX Hybrid 37 MPG 34 MPG 36 MPG
2022 BMW X5 xDrive40i 21 MPG 26 MPG 23 MPG
2022 Genesis GV80 2.5T 20 MPG 24 MPG 22 MPG
2022 Mercedes-Benz GLE350 20 MPG 25 MPG 22 MPG

Pricing

  • Base Price: $49,000 + $1,150 Destination
  • Trim Base Price: $58,150
  • As-Tested Price: $62,725

Even though the base RX Hybrid starts at a reasonable $50,150 (with the $1,150 destination fee included), the Luxury trim costs $58,150, and with options, this tester comes out to $62,725. The priciest two of the bunch are the Mark Levinson premium audio system ($1,160) and the triple-beam LED headlights ($1,565).

If you want niceties like semi-aniline leather, bigger wheels, and a head-up display, then the Luxury trim is the way to go. But as still the only pure hybrid in the entire class, the Lexus RX represents great value even in base form. It’s the most efficient vehicle in the segment by a long shot and still comes with all the luxury accouterments and high-end tech you expect of a luxury SUV of this caliber.

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