Video: 2023 Lexus RX Brings in Turbocharged and Plug-in Hybrid Power: But Just How Good Is It?

Roman samples the latest version of Lexus' best-selling crossover

2023 Lexus RX 350h
(Images: Lexus)
  • The 2023 Lexus RX lineup launches with three primary models: the entry-level RX 350, the hybrid RX 350h and the higher performance RX 500h.
  • As with the smaller NX, this next-generation RX brings a new powerplant in the form of a 2.4-liter turbocharged I-4, both as a standalone unit (RX 350) and coupled to electric motors (RX 350h and RX 500h).
    • A RX 450h+ plug-in hybrid (shown below) is also coming, but Lexus has not yet revealed detailed information for the U.S. model.
  • The fifth-generation Lexus RX will launch as a two-row model — no three-row “L” model is confirmed yet.
  • 2023 Lexus RX models will go on sale later this year, with pricing for the launch lineup coming soon.

It’s time for a change, and the 2023 Lexus RX brings just that: But how good is it?

Not only did Lexus define the luxury crossover with which we’re now intimately familiar, but we now have a brand-new, fifth generation model to pore over for the new year. Right from the outset, the new model aims to make a statement, with new styling, technology and powertrains to consider against the outgoing car. With stiff competition like the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GLE, Volvo XC90, Acura MDX, Infiniti QX60, Lincoln Aviator, Cadillac XT5 (you get the idea), the 2023 Lexus RX needs to shine.

Lexus knows it needs to innovate to maintain its sales lead in the midsize segment. To that end, we see new styling, a battery of new safety tech in the Lexus Safety System+ 3.0 suite, and new powertrain options. Notably, most folks will experience the 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that’s now standard fare in the RX 350. Of course, there are still hybrid options and even a plug-in hybrid 450h+ coming, but Lexus contends that roughly 73% of RX buyers will get the gasoline-only version.

Fortunately, the automaker provided Roman the opportunity to test the entire range out, and you can see the RX 350 in a hands-on video below.

New powertrain options

Although it’s a ground-up redesign on its own, the 2023 Lexus RX does ride on the TNGA-K platform that underpins Toyota’s compact-and-larger crossovers as well as the smaller NX. That’s a good thing going off prior experience, as the update should make this RX feel a bit sharper than the past three generations riding on the old “K” platform.

What’s at the core of the new RX, though, is a new 2.4-liter turbocharged engine. In the RX 350, it manages 275 horsepower and 317 lb-ft of torque, mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. This powertrain also makes its way into the top-end RX 500h F Sport Performance, where it’s coupled with two electric motors and a 6-speed automatic. In that application, total output increases to 366 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque.

The hybrid RX 350h, by contrast, uses a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four-pot — one you’ll know if you’re cross-shopping the automaker’s other hybrid models. Here, you get 246 horsepower and 233 lb-ft total output, but you also should get an estimated 36 mpg combined. That’s far better than the base RX 350, though you give up performance in the process, particularly thanks to its “e-CVT” transmission.

Check out the RX 450h+ (coming soon)

Most of the 2023 Lexus RX lineup will arrive later this year. The sole exception to that, however, is the plug-in hybrid RX 450h+. Roman did have a chance to drive that one as well. Lexus did not share much technical information about it yet, though, and it will be a little longer before it’s actually available for sale.

In theory, though, you should get a “best of all worlds” sort of car with that model. Better acceleration (check out another video below to see that), some all-electric driving capability and solid fuel mileage. It does use an 18.1-kWh lithium-ion battery, so that capacity should have an EV range competitive with similarly sized crossovers. We’ll have to wait and see to know for sure.

Every 2023 Lexus RX also gets a thorough interior update, including a revamped infotainment system akin to the NX. How well does it all come together? I’ll let Roman hammer out those details in the videos below: