If you were to name vehicles that helped pioneer a whole segment, the Lexus RX would be one of them. When it launched in 1999, the RX was one of the first luxury crossovers to hit the market and it immediately became a success story. Since then, the RX has consistently remained a strong seller for Lexus, making it a mainstay in its class. The RX was also one of the first luxury crossovers to offer a hybrid powertrain, giving it exceptional fuel economy without sacrificing power. A new generation RX is just around the corner and with Toyota’s commitment to electrification, will this bestselling SUV break the mold again by offering only hybrid and all-electric motivation?
2023 Lexus RX exterior
The current Lexus design language has undergone many iterations but the latest and softest has yielded the best-looking vehicles without losing the aggression of the initial versions. Another evolution should be in the cards for the fifth-generation Lexus RX and it may get a little less controversial so that it can bring in more conquest while still retaining repeat buyers. Expect the 2023 RX to grow in size slightly, which should give it a similar exterior footprint as rivals like the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class, and Acura MDX.
2023 Lexus RX interior and tech features
Expect the Lexus RX’s to have a roomier interior as it grows in size slightly. That means the crossover will likely get a more usable third-row option but in typical three-row crossover fashion, expect it to be good only for short trips or children. Second-row captain’s chairs should also be offered on three-row variants. The two-row, five-seat configuration should remain standard on the RX and provide more cargo space behind the second row.
In typical Lexus fashion, the next-generation RX’s cabin should be as quiet as a bank vault and meticulously built with lots of high-quality materials on every surface. Real and faux leather upholstery should remain available with the former likely being part of an optional package. We also hope Lexus brings back the bamboo trim because it gives the interior a unique ambience that allows the RX to stand out.
As with Lexus’ latest infotainment systems, a larger 12.3-inch touch screen should be available as an option while base models will likely keep the smaller 8.0-inch unit. Don’t expect Lexus to ditch the touch pad controls anytime soon. The next upgrade to the Lexus Safety System driver assistance suite should also find its way into the next-generation RX with more semi-autonomous driving assists to help make your commutes less stressful.
2023 Lexus RX underpinnings and powertrain
The big news for the fifth-generation Lexus RX is under the skin. Like the ES sedan, it will move to the TNGA-K platform, which also underpins several Toyota models including the RAV4, Highlander, and Camry. This should result in significantly improved road manners. The last Highlander Hybrid we reviewed drove like a smaller, more compact crossover, giving it good handling without ruining the ride. The RX should take that step further because it’ll likely be available with adaptive variable suspension and an F Sport variant tuned for better handling.
Electrified powertrains will remain a staple in the 2023 Lexus RX since it’s had one from the beginning. Where things will change is the type of engine that will form the basis of the system. Like the 2022 NX, Toyota’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder-based hybrid should find its way into the RX. However, expect it to get more powerful electric motors to counteract the additional weight of the vehicle. That means it could take components from the RAV4 Prime. A larger battery could also be part of the equation to give the RX more range in EV mode. While a V6 engine may make more sense for a crossover the size of the RX, it’s likely that Toyota and Lexus can extract more out of the RAV4 Prime’s plug-in hybrid system. The standard hybrid system will likely be the same one found in the 2022 NX but with a little more power.
The 2023 Lexus RX could also mark the addition of an all-electric variant. Lexus recently showed off its DIRECT4 drive control technology for hybrids and EVs, which could debut in the RX. This could be the flagship model of the range but its availability will likely be limited to places where EV infrastructure makes it a viable option for consumers. Expect the RX EV to ride on the e-TNGA platform, which is being developed by an alliance of Japanese automakers including Toyota, Mazda, Subaru, Suzuki, and Daihatsu.
A lot is riding on the fifth-generation Lexus RX and that’s not only because it’s one of the bestselling luxury crossovers on the market. The RX helped create a new segment and jumped on the electrification train even before it was in vogue. With so much competition, Lexus must do more to keep the RX in the limelight and it may just have the right tools to do so. Toyota’s luxury arm is poised to step up to the plate and bring its latest hybrid and electric powertrain to its most popular model. In doing so, Lexus could cement its position as a hybrid leader while showing it knows its way around EVs, too.
Updated (11:05 a.m. EDT, 06/29/2021): Replaced the second paragraph in the powertrain section with more up-to-date speculation.