Although the 2023 Lexus RX has undergone a complete makeover, it nevertheless intends to provide drivers the same sense of elegance and comfort that distinguished its predecessors. Three versions of the new SUV are offered: a gas-powered RX350, a hybrid RX350h, and a more powerful RX500h.
The spindle grille is where the SUV’s design has changed the most visibly. This design feature has always generated strong opinions, and the new one probably won’t change that. We are confused, especially by the bulging transition from the hood to the grille’s lower, more upright trapezoidal part. The rear overhang is less, and the wheelbase is 2.4 inches longer. The three-row L variant that was previously offered is eliminated.
The base RX350 replaces the V-6 from last year with a 2.4-liter inline-four that has been turbocharged. It produces 317 pound-feet of torque and 275 horsepower when connected to an eight-speed automatic. There are 20 fewer horses than the previous year but 50 more pound-feet. The front-wheel-drive RX350 is anticipated to reach 60 mph in 7.2 seconds, while the all-wheel-drive model is expected to do it in 6.9 seconds. In our most recent test, the RX350 F Sport took 6.7 seconds, much longer than average for the class.
Picking the RX350h is prudent and practical. Its hybrid drivetrain now has a non-turbo 2.5-liter four with the Atkinson cycle, and the combined fuel economy is predicted to be 36 mpg. The front wheels are turned by a continuously variable gearbox with two electric motors, while a third electric motor propels the rear wheels. 246 horsepower and 233 pound-feet of combined output should enable the RX350h to reach 60 mph in 7.8 seconds.
A more potent rear electric motor and the turbo-four engine from the RX350 combine to produce 366 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque in the high-performance hybrid RX500h. We predict it will take 5.6 seconds to reach 60 mph.
But none of these RX variants are athletic or enjoyable to drive. Instead, Lexus prioritises comfort and elegance above performance, a strategy that has worked well for the RX for many years.
To match the pace of oncoming traffic, you must floor the accelerator on the RX350h since it seems abnormally anaemic. The RX350h feels slower since the engine moans loudly as it struggles.
The RX500h doesn’t suffer as much, thanks to a significant increase in power and a typical six-speed automatic. Traditional shifts provide a respite from the drone and are quicker to react. Although it inspires far more confidence, a BMW X5 xDrive40i, which accelerates to 60 mph in just 4.8 seconds, would smoke it. Despite this, there is still no rocket.
The handling performance is not much improved. The soft suspension setting discourages aggressive driving, and residual rebounds frequently occur following a bump on the road. The mushy feel and extended stroke of the brake pedal further erode trust.
Typically, driver-assist features—rather than performance—attract Lexus buyers, and the RX delivers in this regard. The adaptive cruise control maintains a distance between vehicles effortlessly, and the forward-collision warning never gave us a false alert. The driver-attention monitor gave us many annoying false alerts, though. Additionally, the lane-keeping aid isn’t as sophisticated as competitors, frequently wandering from lane edge to lane edge. But we assume that’s the reason its name includes the word “assist.”
The RX’s interior has been dramatically enhanced, particularly in entertainment. Lexus replaces the infamous trace-pad controller from the outgoing SUV with a touchscreen system. A 14.0-inch display is an option, while a 9.8-inch panel is a norm.
Although the dashboard is more striking and contemporary than before, we were underwhelmed by several of the cabin’s components, such as the plastic on the centre console and the lighter-coloured faux wood grain. On the other hand, the combination of heftier elements on the dash and the cloth door inserts meets the criteria for luxury.
The 2023 RX should live up to the expectations of devoted Lexus buyers who favour serene comfort over solid performance. It has been redesigned but not wholly remade. However, those more accustomed to more expensive German luxury SUVs would probably find the RX lacking in handling and interior quality. However, Lexus doesn’t appear eager to change its tried-and-true recipe significantly. Stay tuned to Auto Tech Portal for more automobile related content.
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