2023 Lexus RX Review: Exactly As Expected, and More

The 2023 Lexus RX may be a complete remake of the original luxury sport utility vehicle (SUV) but there's plenty that will make buyers feel instantly familiar with the freshest model in the Lexus lineup.

Sitting on a new platform, the 2023 RX has nearly the same footprint as the old version, and has seating for up to five. The fresh Lexus RX only comes in a two-row configuration, with Lexus leaving room in its lineup for the three row crossover that is rumored to be coming soon.

Appearance-wise, the biggest change for the new RX from generation to generation is its grille. Gone is the metallic spindle grille and in its place is a network of interwoven plastic parts. Head-on it has a bit of a cheese grader look, but around the sides, the way it adheres to the body of the car is worth a second look. Its headlights have grown in size while at the rear the SUV takes on a sight familiar to those that have seen the company's smaller NX SUV.

Lexus borrows more direction from the NX when crafting the RX's interior. The new model is simplified compared to the last, without losing too much sophistication. Tech is fresh, including the infotainment system, which carries over from the NX are leaves all traces of the Lexus Trackpad as a gone-but-never-forgotten memory.

There are a few maddening aspects of the RX that carry over from other Lexus and Toyota products, namely the fact that Lexus has decided that the model does not need a drive mode button, knob, or toggle switch. Instead, the modes are hidden in a menu in the infotainment system.

2023 Lexus RX 500h Performance
The 2023 Lexus RX 500h Performance shown with a stealth-like paint job. Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

The luxury arm of Toyota has equipped the RX with the latest safety and infotainment technology the brand offers, including a host of powertrain options, some of which are available at launch and others that will go on sale for the 2024 model year.

Lexus provided examples of each of the model's powertrains (all equipped with all-wheel drive (AWD)) for test driving and review, including the 2023 Lexus RX 350 AWD, 2023 Lexus RX 350 F Sport Handling AWD, 2023 Lexus RX Luxury AWD, 2023 Lexus RX 350 Premium+ AWD, 2023 Lexus RX 350h Luxury AWD, 2023 Lexus RX350h Premium+ AWD, 2023 Lexus RX 500h F Sport Performance AWD and the prototype of the 2024 Lexus 450h Plus plug-in hybrid.

No matter the powertrain or the grade the customer chooses, they'll be driving away in a model that is vastly improved, more fuel efficient, and continues to be recognizable as America's best-selling luxury SUV.

2023 Lexus RX 350 Review

Equipped with Lexus' base turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine, the Lexus RX 350 doesn't suffer from a lack of power. Delivering 275 horsepower (hp) and 313 pound-feet (lb-ft) of torque for drivers to use, the car is relatively quick off the line and has adequate stopping power for the around town duties buyers will undoubtedly generally relegate it to.

Like every other RX tested, the model is smooth to accelerate and stable around corners. The seating position allows for good forward visibility and a small window behind the second row seats, on each side, helps with blind spots and parking.

This tester came with faux leather seats, heated front seats, multi-zone climate control, a 9.8-inch infotainment touch screen, a 7.0-inch digital gauge cluster, a 12-speaker sound system, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, six USB ports, LED fog lamps, a tilt-and-slide moonroof, and roof rails.

2023 Lexus RX 350
The interior of the 2023 Lexus RX 350 is finely appointed. Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

It also had Lexus Safety System 3.0+, a suite of driver information and safety technology that includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, adaptive cruise control with curve assist, intersection support, and motorcycle detection. Traffic jam assist technology adds to the appeal.

Though pricing has not yet been released, it delivers a solid entry level package. Add in all-wheel drive and for clients in the snow belt, the RX AWD becomes a no-brainer for a test drive.

2023 Lexus RX 350h Review

Adding hybrid power to the equation makes the Lexus RX even more desirable. Its 246 hp and 233 lb-ft of torque comes courtesy of a 2.5-liter four-cylinder hybrid engine. The powertrain gets 36 miles per gallon (mpg) combined, making it the most fuel efficient model of the lineup.

Sure, there's a power loss, but the more than 10 mpg more that buyers get with this model over the gas-powered RX 350 makes up for the heartache. It also helps ease the likely upcharge that buyers are likely to have to pay to get the hybrid.

2023 Lexus RX 350h
The 2023 Lexus RX 350h is a hybrid family hauler. Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

As tested in the Luxury trim, the car came with some fineries that the base model did not including heated and ventilated front seats, wood accents throughout the cabin and on the steering wheel, semi-aniline leather seats, suede door trim, 10-way power-adjustable front seats, power rear seats, a 14-inch infotainment touch screen with navigation, a Mark Levinson sound system, wireless charging, headlight wipers, and LED fog lamps.

The RX 350h is one of the best packaged models Lexus offers. This model will be at the heart of the lineup for buyers, blending the appointments, features, technology and style Lexus customers are looking for with an expected price point that doesn't deviate too much from the RX 350, if Toyota and Lexus history repeats itself.

2023 Lexus RX 500h Review

With its top-tier RX 500h model, Lexus gives buyers a hybrid powertrain that delivers premium performance. Its turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is paired with an 80-kilowatt (kW) electric motor and battery to deliver 366 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. An all-wheel drive system comes standard.

Smooth, steady acceleration is the name of the game here. Like in the Lexus IS 500, the powertrain doesn't deliver a particularly visceral experience, but there's no doubt that it is the most powerful RX offered.

2023 Lexus RX 500h F Sport Performance
The top-tier Lexus RX model is the RX F Sport Performance version, which packs a horsepower punch. Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

However, the RX 500h walks a strange line. Its power isn't so obscene that it makes the car more enthusiast-focused. It's no sportier to drive either. Most of the changes here are with the powertrain. The appointments aren't particularly more luxe, nor is there extra, cutting-edge technology. This stifles the model's buyer base, and makes it far less of a worthwhile buy than the RX 350 or RX 350h.

2024 Lexus RX 450n+ Review

The Lexus RX 450h+ won't be available until the 2024 model year in the U.S., but it already showed a lot of promise in its initial short test drive. Powerful acceleration combined with all-electric drive capability will make this SUV an instant contender for buyers who want to be able to go electric but desire the fallback of hybrid engine.