2023 Lexus RX 500h F Sport Performance

The Lexus RX has been a top seller for Toyota’s luxury brand since its debut in 1998. Back then, it was the first ever luxury crossover and it went on to shape what is now an extremely popular category. For 2023, the RX gets a makeover. While comfort is still the name of the game for Lexus, the RX also gets improved performance and tech.

Base Price: $61,600
As Tested: $70,780
Horsepower: 366
Mileage: 27 mpg city/28 mpg highway/27 mpg combined

The redesigned 2023 Lexus RX gets tweaked exterior styling with a bolder look, new powertrain options, and a new and improved infotainment system. The three-row L version is scrapped for 2023.

The 2023 Lexus RX Hybrid comes in five trims: 350h, 350h Premium, 350h Premium+, 350h Luxury and 500h F Sport Performance. Starting prices range from $49,000 to $61,600. All-wheel drive is standard on all trims. There’s room for five passengers in two rows of seating.

All trims except the RX 500h are powered by a naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine, paired with two electric motors, one on the front axle and one on the rear axle, and a battery pack. Total output is 246 horsepower and 233 pound-feet of torque. The transmission is a continuously variable automatic.

The 500h F Sport Performance is the most powerful RX. It gets a turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, the twin electric motors, and a battery pack, paired with a six-speed automatic. Total output is 366 horses and 406 pound-feet. The 500h also has a sport-tuned adaptive suspension.

While the 500h doesn’t have the athletic driving dynamics of some of its rivals, it is punchy for a Lexus. Acceleration from a stop is relatively brisk, and there’s enough smooth power for easily accelerating for merging and passing at freeway speeds. The six-speed shifts quickly and smoothly, and the suspension soaks up bumps. There’s some body lean when cornering and the brakes can have a squishy feel.  All in all, the 500h excels as a cruiser and daily driver as you expect in a Lexus, But if you want exhilarating performance, you’re better off looking elsewhere.

The RX 500h has an “Active Sound” control that pipes simulated engine and exhaust noises into the cabin if you want to make it sound like you’re driving a sports car!

Fuel economy is decent for a luxury hybrid crossover. EPA ratings for my tester are 27 mpg city and 28 mpg highway with a combined rating of 27. I got 26 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.

The cabin is understated with a simple design. It doesn’t necessarily scream luxury, but materials are upscale and the build quality is competitive with most rivals. Seats in both rows are comfortable and supportive with good leg- and headroom. Two adults will be comfortable in the second row.

Standard features include proximity keyless entry, rearview camera, synthetic leather upholstery, eight-way power-adjustable front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, infotainment system with 9.8-inch touchscreen, 12-speaker audio system, satellite radio, HD Radio, Bluetooth, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, voice recognition, six USB ports, Wi-Fi hot spot, universal garage door opener, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.

Available features include a surround-view camera system, head-up display, semi-aniline leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, driver’s seat and steering wheel memory settings, front power lumbar adjustments, heated steering wheel, infotainment system with 14-inch touchscreen and Remote Touch interface, navigation, 21-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound audio system, two additional USB ports, wireless device charging, moonroof, panoramic roof, ambient interior lighting, and adaptive headlights, and automatic high-beam headlights.

Standard driver assistance technologies include forward collision warning, forward automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, lane-tracing assist, blind-spot monitoring, pedestrian and cyclist detection, rear cross-traffic alert, and traffic-sign recognition.

Available driver assistance technologies include reverse automatic emergency braking and front and rear parking sensors.

The infotainment system is improved over the outgoing version, but there’s still a learning curve. This new system was introduced on the NX last year and replaces the cumbersome trackpad system in the RX. The standard 9.8-inch touchscreen looks good, and the larger 14.0-inch screen is standard on all but the base trim. Menus are more intuitively laid out, but you’ll still need to familiarize yourself with the system. There are a few physical controls – more would be better.

Cargo space is a bit below average for a luxury crossover. There are 29.6 cubic feet with both rows of seating in place and 46.2 cubes with the rear seats folded down; however, the rear seats don’t fold completely flat but they do fold 60/40 to allow for flexibility in hauling passengers and cargo.

The good:

Smooth ride

Good fuel economy

Lots of standard and available features and tech

Standard wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay

The not-so-good:

Some rivals have better performance

Infotainment system is better but takes practice

Pricing info:

My tester starts at $61,600. The 120V AC Inverter is $550. Cold Area Package is $100. Digital key is $275. Digital rearview mirror is $200. Power rear seats are $550. Heated and ventilated rear seats are $680. Premium triple-beam LED headlamps are $1,565. Panorama glass moonroof is $500. Lexus interface with 14-inch touchscreen, cloud navigation, intelligent assistant and destination assist are $1,105. Power rear door with kick sensor is $150. Special color is $595. Advanced Park is $250. Panoramic view monitor is $800. Traffic Jam Assist is $620. Rear bumper applique is $90. Delivery fee is $1,150 bringing the grand total to $70,780.

Bottom line:

Lexus has modernized the RX but keeps its personality of supreme comfort over heart-racing performance. While it doesn’t have the quick acceleration and nimble handling of some competitors, it’s a very pleasant place to spend time with its upscale cabin and long list of features. RX fans will like it, as will those who want a comfortable luxury crossover that gets decent gas mileage.

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