As the Lexus RX approaches its 25th anniversary, Toyota’s premium brand is giving the original luxury crossover a complete makeover with a full new set of powertrain options. For the first time since it launched in 1998, the new RX will not have a six cylinder engine lineup, but it will get a plug in two variants.
The 2023 RX may be all-new, but it should be immediately familiar to anyone that has seen the fourth-generation model. The greenhouse in particular looks nearly identical to the model it replaces while the lower sheetmetal sees some more noticeable recontouring. The rocker panel upsweep remains but the wheel arches have become rounder than before.
The most significant difference is at the front where the signature Lexus spindle grille has been reworked. Instead of the grille continuing up over the front edge to the hood line, it now has a fade out effect as it approaches the crease between the headlights with the upper portion now being solid. The LED headlamps retain the stylized L signature lighting which can be found in the taillamps as well. However, the back now features a full width lightbar that emphasizes the the RX’s new stance.
The RX rides on a new platform dubbed GA-K that makes use of more optimized structures and materials to achieve weight reductions of up to 198-lbs. The 192.5-inch overall length remains unchanged, but the wheelbase has been stretched by 2.4-inches, with the rear axle moving further back and providing more rear legroom. The rear wheels are now supported by a new multi-link suspension layout in place of the former double wishbone configuration. The height has been reduced by 0.4-inch while the RX is now 1-inch wider.
While the RX has previously offered four-cylinder engines in markets outside North America, we’ve only had V6 units either standalone or with a hybrid system. This time the lineup begins with the base RX350 now powered by a 275-hp, 2.4-liter turbocharged four that also provides 317 lb-ft of torque, a substantial boost from the 267 lb-ft of the former 3.5-liter V6. The combination of reduced weight and more torque should make the new RX feel significantly more responsive.
The RX hybrid has long been the best-selling electrified model in the Lexus lineup and this year it is getting the same treatment the Toyota Highlander got last year. In place of the V6 hybrid layout previously offered, the RX350h has Toyota’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder with a hybrid transmission driving the front wheels and a second motor on the rear axle. This is projected to boost EPA combined fuel economy by 10% to 33 mpg compared to the former RX450h.
Next up is the first plug-in hybrid RX, the RX 450h+. No details are provided on this variant yet, but it will likely utilize a similar configuration to the Rav4 Prime and Lexus NX450h+ with an 18.1 kWh lithium ion battery, the 2.5-liter four cylinder and increased electrical power front and rear for about 302-hp. Details on this model are coming later.
Finally, there is the RX500h F Sport Performance. In the past, the F Sport has been little more than a sporty appearance package with no notable mechanical upgrades. This time, it will be the highest performance variant of the RX, utilizing the 2.4-liter turbocharged engine witht he hybrid drive for a combined 367-hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. For the first time, the RX 500h also uses a conventional 6 speed automatic transmission instead of a CVT for a better performance feel. The RX500h also gets upgraded six-piston front brake calipers and 21-inch wheels along with a mesh grille so everyone else knows you got something different.
The full driver assistance suite that is branded as Lexus Safety System+ 3.0 is standard with features including radar adaptive cruise control, lane centering, and blindspot monitoring. The pre-collision now features both pedestrian and motorcycle detection in addition to intersection support. The new RX finally ditches Lexus’ terrible trackpad interface in favor of the latest generation infotainment system that debuted on the new NX. That means a 14-inch center touchscreen and the much cleaner and more responsive user interface.
The new RXs are targeting an on sale date by the end of 2022, but no pricing information is available yet.