With this freshly unveiled 5th-generation of the popular Lexus RX, the Japanese luxury marque has given its 5-seat sub-flagship SUV a complete once-over, revamping everything from the interior, exterior, and even its line-up of powertrains.
Against such rivals as the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GLE, and Volvo XC90, the RX has always proven itself as a force to be reckoned with. However, with this newest iteration bearing the nameplate from 2022 onwards, Lexus has clearly taken a more aggressive approach to patch up its deficiencies.
2023 Lexus RX – Designed To Impress
Like before, it is built on Toyota’s TNGA (GA-K) platform but has a wheelbase extended by a seemingly minuscule 6mm. More substantially, it boasts a 15mm wider front track matched to an additional 40mm spacing for each rear wheel. Its roofline has also dropped by 10mm, which all contributes to a lower centre of gravity and theoretically improved handling.
Still, it’s a Lexus, so don’t expect to violate the laws of physics through a set of bends, but it does deliver some insight into where the brand has set its priorities. Against this theme of added dynamism is the all-new RX’s design, one that embraces a sportier, harder-edged aesthetic no matter which variant is looked upon.
It looks more hunkered on the road, owing to its more squat (21-inch) wheel positioning and a more sloping roofline that stops short of falling into the dreaded coupe-SUV territory. Adding to this is the 89kg weight reduction over the outgoing RX.
There’s also quite clearly some design overlap with the cues first seen in the Lexus RZ, their first fully electric vehicle, though brand signatures such as the hexagonal front grille remain on full display, flanked here by new headlights with arrowhead daytime running light signatures.
Luxury, Japanese Style
Things are decidedly less bold when stepping inside. Perhaps more than any other element of the all-new RX, the cabin sticks to established norms instead of forging its own new path. The combination of materials, interior trim pieces, control surfaces, and ergonomics are not far removed from other Lexus models.
That’s not to say the RX isn’t plush since we know the Japanese brand excels in build quality and finish, possibly trouncing every other equivalent vehicle in their class, with the possible expense of a singular ‘wow factor’.
2023 Lexus RX Variants
The range starts with the RX 350h with that suffix denoting its status as a hybrid (the non plug-in type). It uses a 2.5-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol paired with an electric motor in series to output a combined 246hp and 315Nm of torque to all four wheels. Gone is the larger capacity V6 engine altogether.
Meanwhile, a less efficient and expensive but ultimately more powerful RX350 will also be made available that uses a 2.4-litre turbo-petrol for 275hp and 430Nm in a front-wheel or all-wheel-drive configuration. However, the non-turbo fuel-sipping hybrid is advertised to be quicker to 100km/h.
Above this, we have the RX450h+ that pairs the RX350h’s 2.5-litre engine with a larger lithium battery and beefier electric motor. This variant is a plug-in hybrid that Lexus is being light with on details, though we are presuming this to mirror the Toyota RAV4 Prime PHEV in terms of mechanicals, meaning an output of 302hp.
No More V6 Power, More Electrification
At the peak of the RX range is the RX500h F Sport Performance which wants to leave as little room as possible to doubt its top-dog status. This one pairs the 2.4-litre turbo motor with the usual assortment of components that make up the highly regarded Toyota/Lexus series hybrid system.
While the combustion engine is mainly concerned with driving the front wheels, there’s a high torque electric motor at the rear axle to provide all-wheel traction. The automaker is dubbing this DIRECT4, and as a combined unit endows the RX500h with 367hp and 644Nm, enough to launch the range-topping RX to 100km/h in just 6.0 seconds. In terms of pure pace from standstill, this is about level with the BMW X5 xDrive45e but still a hair behind the XC90 T8.
Each variant of this 5th-generation RX will come equipped with Lexus Safety System 3.0. This includes the brand’s Autonomous Emergency Braking solution (they call it Pre-Collision System) with pedestrian detection, Lane Departure Alert, and All-Speed Dynamic Cruise Control.
We’ll keep you posted on when exactly the all-new RX will hit Malaysian shores but don’t hold your breath if you were hoping it would show up within the next few months.