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2023 Lexus RX goes all-in on electrification with three hybrid models

The 2023 Lexus RX has finally been unveiled, starting a new generation of a pioneering luxury crossover. Think of its design as an evolution because you see the family lineage with the outgoing model. You still get Lexus’ spindle grille but this time only the lower 75% of it is blacked out while the upper 25% is body-colored. Its side profile is reminiscent of its predecessor complete with a floating roof thanks to a portion of the C-pillar being blacked out. The headlights are much thicker than before and you’ll also find full-width taillights with Lexus spelled out in the middle just like its little brother, the NX.

Offered in six trims: Standard, Premium, Premium+, Luxury, F Sport Handling, and F Sport Performance, the 2023 Lexus RX has a version for every type of consumer. Moving inside, you’ll find the new Lexus infotainment system with an optional 14.0-inch touch screen and an available head-up display. The e-latch electronic door handle has also found its way into the RX. Other features include a panoramic sunroof, interior ambient lighting, and a digital gauge cluster inspired by the Lexus LFA. Like in the NX, the dash layout on the 2023 RX is driver-centric since it’s tilted slightly toward the driver. You’ll have six interior choices including the cool two-tone back and Rioja Red combo. They’re then paired with different types of trim including Dark Graphite Aluminum, Ash Bamboo, and Open Pore Wood.

2023 Lexus RX goes all-in on electrification with three hybrid models

Now built on the TNGA-K platform, the new RX is 198 pounds lighter than before but it’s more rigid, has a lower center of gravity, and improved weight distribution. The crossover also rides on a 2.36-inch longer wheelbase while the rear overhang is 2.3 inches shorter. As a result, its overall length is the same as the outgoing vehicle. A new multi-link rear suspension design has also been added and is now attached to a rigid, high-torsion rear body frame that provides more consistent suspension input/travel when accelerating, decelerating, and steering. Thanks to the longer wheelbase, the interior also benefits from increased rear passenger space and a larger cargo area with a lower loading height.

The new RX continues the tradition of offering electrified powertrains, something it’s continuously had since its first generation. This time, you get three choices. The RX 350h uses a 2.5-liter four-cylinder coupled to three electric motors, a battery, and a planetary gear set. This makes a combined output of 246 hp and 233 lb-ft of torque and gets AWD standard. For the first time, a plug-in hybrid will be part of the lineup. Called the RX450h+, Lexus says it’ll reveal the specs for the U.S. market version at a later date. However, we suspect it’s the same unit found in the NX 450h+ but likely with more power.

Sitting at the top of the food chain is the RX 500h F Sport Performance. This is the first true sporty variant of the RX, which has had F Sport models with suspension tweaks but without any power increases. Unlike the RX 350h, this uses a new parallel hybrid system instead of a power-split unit. It couples the new 2.4-liter turbo-four with two electric motors, a battery, and a six-speed automatic transmission, giving it a combined output of 367 hp and 406 lb-ft. Lexus says the RX 500h can sprint to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds. The RX 500h is also the first hybrid application of the DIRECT4 AWD by mounting an e-axle on the rear that combined the electric motor, inverter, and reduction gearbox into a single unit. This result is improved low-end torque, quick acceleration, and better traction in all road conditions. Additional extras include six-piston brake calipers, a mesh grille, a unique front bumper, and available 21-inch alloy wheels that help the RX 500h slip through the air better.

Every 2023 RX also gets the Lexus Safety System+ 3.0 suite of driver assistance features. This includes the usual suspects like front automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane centering, and adaptive cruise control. However, it gets expanded functionality with features like motorcycle detection, the ability to slow down for turns, and automatic emergency braking remaining active at intersections. It also includes Emergency Driving Stop System, which will bring the vehicle to a complete stop if the driver is unresponsive.

The 2023 Lexus RX goes on sale before the end of the year. Expect the RX 350h to arrive first alongside the standard gas-powered model. Both the RX 450h+ and RX 500h will follow with the former being the last one.

Written by Stefan Ogbac
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