There’s a new Lexus RX Hybrid SUV (or Gas, or Performance) for 2023, and It’s Everything a Makeover Should Be

Me With The 2023 Lexus Rx Featured Image
The 2023 Lexus RX. Photo: Scotty Reiss

If only every makeover could leave you smarter, stronger and better looking.

Yes, it’s hard to mess with perfection, but of course, we have to continue to evolve. That’s where the Lexus design team found itself as they looked down the road to 2023; the RX was due for an update— technology, fuel efficiency, and sport performance — but how do you tinker with your best-selling model and not ruin it?

Luckily, the RX simply gets better. And with a few new engine options, even better. 

The Front Cabin Of The 2023 Lexus Rx

The front cabin of the 2023 Lexus RX. Photo: Scotty Reiss

RX for 2023: Everything You Want, and Nothing You Don’t

Probably the biggest news for the 2023 Lexus RX, the 5-passenger mid-size SUV that basically started the trend of small-ish luxury SUVs, is that it simply gets everything right. 

There are lots of bold moves in this design, but few risks. There are lots of luxuries, but not gratuitous expensive curiosities. And, it provides everything you want and need in a comfortable, elegant and agile SUV, all in an easy, intuitive design. 

Gone is the trackpad media controller, replaced by a modern and responsive touch and voice-activated system. Gone is the panel of buttons and dials, replaced by touch-sensitive controls that are always on display. Gone is the large gear shifter that took up so much space on the center console (and left no place to put a phone other than the cup holders), replaced by a smaller, palm-sized shifter, necessary drive mode controls, and not one but two cubbies to hold a phone. Huge yay for more storage space!  

Related: Pointing My Lens at the Lexus NX 450h+ Plug-In Hybrid

The View From The Driver'S Seat Shows The Elegant New Cabin And Fewer Control Buttons.

The view from the driver’s seat shows the elegant new cabin and fewer control buttons. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Effortless Elegance, at Your Fingertips

Many of the functions and commands in the Lexus RX are designed for a gentler, more intuitive touch: Gently push a button on the door handle and the door pops open. Swipe your finger across the touch pad on the steering wheel and you’ll see the commands come to life in the head-up display. Drop your phone in the center console cubby and it charges wirelessly. Connect your phone to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto once, and it connects wirelessly ever after. If tapping the touch screen for what you want is too much effort, just say “Hey Lexus” and the system comes to life to serve you. If keeping track of a key fob is a chore, you can use your phone as a key to unlock, start and drive the RX. Slide into the comfortable leather seats and pop on the seat heaters or coolers — in the rear seat.

Related: Lexus LX 600 Luxury SUV: Go Big and Go Fancy 

The New Front Face Of The 2023 Lexus Rx

The new front face of the 2023 Lexus RX. Photo: Scotty Reiss

A New Look Adds a Bit More Luxury 

You might actually notice this right away: The distinct Lexus front grille is a bit more demure and less severe than in its predecessors. The hourglass grille has been softened for more of a waterfall mesh effect; and the headlights, which new, are still sleek and framed by sharp L shaped running lights. And the hood is fully inset into the frame; rather than forming the edge of the frame, as is more typical. I found this one detail to be intriguing, and I’m not sure why, though it does give the front end a truly sculpted look rather than that of being formed by its parts. 

On the sides you’ll see sinewy concave new door panels; these give the feel of motion even when the car is standing still. And on the rear the tailgate is framed by a light bar and the Lexus name spelled out across the rear. The new NX and LX have this same design and it’s modern and elegant.

There are 8 color choices including two new colors, Copper Crest and Iridium silver, and top of the line 500h buyers also get a choice of Ultra White or Grecian Waters blue. The best news, though, is that there are 5 interior choices and 4 of them are light colors: Macadamia, which is a cream color, Birch, which as a light gray tone, and Palomino, a saddle tan; then there is dark brown Peppercorn and of course, Black.

Related: Talk about Style! The Newly Updated Lexus RX350 Luxury SUV Is All That and More

The Driver Command Center Features A New Gear Selector,

The driver command center features a new gear selector and lots of storage. Photo: Scotty Reiss

With Gas, Hybrid and Electric, There are Engine Options for Every Driver 

The interior luxuries seem to go on and on, but there’s a bit of luxury under the hood, too. That’s in the engine options: there’s one for everyone. 

  • The RX 350 is a standard gas option: 2.4L 4 cylinder turbo engine that generates 275 horsepower, 317 torque and averages about 25 MPG.
  • The RX 350h is for hybrid fans; it has a 2.5L 4 cylinder hybrid that generates 246 horsepower, 233 torque, has standard all wheel drive and averages about 36 MPG. 
  • The RX500h F Sport Performance is for those who want the best of both: a performance hybrid with a 2.4L 4 cylinder turbo engine generating 366 horsepower, 406 torque and averaging about 27 MPG. It has the added bonus of a rear motor that not only adds power, but also adds all wheel drive.

Later in 2023 Lexus will roll out the RX 450h, a plug in hybrid with about 25 miles of all electric driving and a hybrid gas motor. We were able to take a short test drive and it was impressive: Quiet and efficient, the electric motor recharges when the system is set to charge mode (so, the gas motor charges the battery) or when it’s plugged in. Otherwise, it runs until the battery depletes; then, the hybrid motor takes over. However, just tooling around the neighborhood with the car in charge mode I was able to add miles back to the battery. Great for quiet, fume-free driving and when you can plug it in, gas free driving.  

Related: Pointing My Lens at the Lexus NX 450h+ Plug-In Hybrid

The Rear View Camera Is Crisp And Clear

The rear view camera is crisp and clear. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Enhanced Standard Technology

In addition to the multimedia system and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Lexus updated its suite of safety systems: The LSS+ 3.0 suite of driver assist and safety features adds even more capability, including the ability to detect another car swerving into your lane, and there’s the addition of traffic jam assist, which works at low speeds, under about 30 MPH, to maintain the speed of traffic on the road.

There’s also a new enhanced Advanced Park system that will parallel park the car for you; you simply tap the button and when necessary, follow commands; the system locates a spot and steers into it, moderating the speed and changing gears. I tried it and it’s pretty cool.

2023 Lexus Rx Interior

2023 Lexus RX interior. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Not Everything Is Perfect

If you’re a set it and forget it driver (oh, hi!) then this won’t bother you: The drive mode selector is on the touch screen rather than being a dedicated button on the center console, which is where you’ll find the EV mode, snow mode and brake hold. If you really like sport mode or eco, you’ll have to get used to tapping the screen for vehicle settings and tapping the setting.

This may, or may not, be an issue for 500h F Performance drivers. I tried both settings in the 500h and didn’t notice a huge difference in acceleration or engine sound; it’s loud and fast, but that’s the point behind this model. The hybrid engine is there as much for efficiency as it is for power, and in that column, it delivers. It’s fun.

The Rear End Of The 2023 Lexus Rx

The rear end of the 2023 Lexus RX is notable by the light bar across the tail gate. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What Will The 2023 Lexus RX Cost?

Well, it’s still a guessing game at this point, because Lexus hasn’t yet announced pricing. 

The RX will come in a number of trims: The RX 350 will come in Standard, Premium, Premium +, Luxury and F Sport (which has sporty handling but not the larger engine). The 350h hybrid comes in Standard, Premium, Premium+ and Luxury. The top of the line RX 500h F Sport Performance is a standalone model; there are no trim options here. 

  • Generally, standard models include NuLuxe leatherette upholstery, heated front seats, paddle shifters, power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, ambient lighting, a 10” multimedia touchscreen, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 6 USB ports (5 are USB-C), power moonroof and LSS+ 3.0 safety system.
  • The Premium trim adds leather, vented and heated front seats, 14” multimedia touchscreen, wireless phone charger, premium sound system, surround-view camera system, head up display, and digital key.
  • The Premium + edition adds wood and leather steering wheel, heated and vented rear seats, driver memory system for seat, mirrors and steering wheel and a Mark Levinson premium sound system.
  • The Luxury trim adds suede trim, semi-aniline leather, power rear seats, enhanced Mark Levinson sound system and a panoramic sunroof.
  • F Sport adds F Sport details such as metal scuff plates, a unique front grille and F Sport badging. 

Lexus hasn’t yet released pricing, but it’s estimated that the base model will start at about of $48,000, with the 450h PHEV and RX500h F Sport Performance coming in at about $65-$70K. The current RX350 model starts at about $46,000, so expect a small bump in price for all that new technology. And even more intuitive, easy elegance. Just what you expect from Lexus RX.

Disclosure: I was a guest of Lexus for this test drive; travel and accommodations were provided but all opinions are my own.

The Push Button Door Handles In The 2023 Lexus Rx

The push button door handles in the 2023 Lexus RX. Photo: Scotty Reiss

 

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Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss

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