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Review of the 2023 Lexus RX: Enhanced Performance and Upgraded Interiors

Image Source: BoJack / Shutterstock

The Lexus RX crossover is the top-selling vehicle for the brand, making the introduction of the all-new 2023 RX a significant event. This fall, Lexus will unveil the fifth generation of the 2023 RX, which will be available in four different versions upon launch. The new RX promises improved performance and a markedly upgraded interior.

Externally, the 2023 RX closely resembles its predecessor in terms of dimensions, maintaining the same length while featuring a 2.4-inch longer wheelbase for enhanced interior roominess.

The new RX is slightly wider and shorter by an inch. The updated styling of the new RX enhances its presence compared to the previous model. The front design now boasts a more imposing appearance with a revised spindle grille, referred to as a “spindle body,” that seamlessly integrates with the front fascia since the chrome grille surround has been removed. Additionally, the new RX features larger headlights upfront, more pronounced fenders, and connected taillights at the rear, linked by a light bar. Fans of the previous RX’s design will likely appreciate the changes in the new model.

On the inside, the 2023 RX receives a modernized interior that surpasses the outgoing model by a significant margin. Positioned in front of the driver is a standard 7-inch digital instrument cluster, with an optional head-up display available. The steering wheel may take some getting used to, as most of the controls are operated using capacitive pads. The highlight is the addition of a new infotainment system, which comes with a choice of a 9.8-inch or 14-inch touchscreen for operation. The older Remote Touch controller has been replaced, and while the new system is an improvement, some may find it slightly cumbersome as most settings are accessible only via the touchscreen, including the driving modes.

The updated infotainment system exudes a more contemporary feel compared to its predecessor and can also be controlled using voice-recognition by uttering the phrase “Hey, Lexus” to issue commands. Features such as Apple Music, Amazon Music, and Spotify streaming services are integrated into the system. A Wi-Fi hotspot is included, with the option to use Android Auto or Apple CarPlay wirelessly to override the infotainment system.

In terms of safety, the new RX is equipped with the Lexus Safety System+ 3.0 suite, incorporating advanced tech features such as an enhanced forward collision warning system, steering assistance, and an optional Traffic Jam Assist system that enables hands-free driving at low speeds. However, some users may find the driver inattention warning system overly sensitive, as it may issue alerts to focus on the road even when the driver is already attentive. A novel feature is the Pro-active Drive Assist system, which utilizes data from the navigation system and onboard cameras to adjust the RX’s speed when navigating corners or descending slopes.

Initially, the 2023 Lexus RX will be available in three distinct versions. The base model is the RX 350, which is likely to be the most popular variant. Powered by a turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine producing 275 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, the new engine offers an additional 50 lb-ft. of torque compared to the outgoing V6, enhancing its performance. The RX 350 can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 7.2 seconds with all-wheel drive. Fuel efficiency ratings for the RX 350 are set at 22 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, and 25 mpg combined with front-wheel drive, and 21/28/24 mpg with all-wheel drive.

For those seeking a more fuel-efficient alternative, the RX 350h AWD is available, featuring a 2.5-liter four-cylinder hybrid powertrain that delivers 246 hp and 233 lb-ft. of torque. The hybrid model achieves impressive fuel economy figures of 37 mpg city, 34 mpg highway, and 36 mpg combined. However, it is slightly slower in acceleration, requiring 7.4 seconds to reach 60 mph.

Enthusiasts looking for a sportier RX variant will appreciate the introduction of the RX 500h F Sport. This model is powered by a 2.4-liter turbo engine and an integrated electric motor at the front, along with an 80-kW motor/generator at the rear. Equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission and the sophisticated Direct4 all-wheel-drive system, the RX 500h generates a total output of 366 hp and 406 lb-ft. of torque, making it the fastest model in the lineup with a 0-60 mph time of 5.9 seconds. The RX 500h is also outfitted with adaptive dampers, upgraded brakes, larger wheels, and a Dynamic Rear Steering system that enhances maneuverability. Its fuel efficiency is rated at 27 mpg city, 28 mpg highway, and 27 mpg combined, offering a blend of power and efficiency.

The fourth version yet to debut in the US market is the RX 450h plug-in hybrid. Initial availability will be in Europe before reaching the US. The RX PHEV boasts the same 2.5-liter hybrid system as the 350h but incorporates a larger 18.1-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery instead of the nickel-metal hybrid battery.

The 2023 Lexus RX is expected to launch by year-end with the three initial versions and six trim levels, including Standard, Premium, Premium Plus, Luxury, F Sport Handling, and F Sport Performance. Pricing details have not been disclosed.

With its updated sporty aesthetics and modernized interior, the RX is poised to maintain its position as the brand’s best-selling model. Offering a diverse range of powertrain options, the new RX presents an enticing package for prospective buyers.

Image Source: BoJack / Shutterstock

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