The Lexus RX has been quite the success for Lexus, but although the RX has won over midsize luxury SUV buyers, we’ve never really saw the RX has something exciting to drive or look at. Well that’s now changed with the introduction of the 2023 RX, specifically the 2023 Lexus RX 500h F Sport Performance.
The RX 500h F Sport Performance sits at the top of the RX lineup and the good news is that it’s also a hybrid. It’s powered by a turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder with an inverter/electric motor at the front and an additional electric motor at the rear axle to generate a combined 366 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque. The four-cylinder is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
Here’s where the “exciting” part comes in, the RX 500h can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 5.9 seconds, making it the quickest RX yet. As that spec suggests, the RX 500h picks up speed fast, but the system still prioritizes comfort here, so don’t expect it to be as sporty as what you’ll get over at BMW or Porsche.
The RX 500h also gets a unique all-wheel drive system, called Direct4, which can send torque from front to rear nearly instantaneously. It also feels more agile than the other RX models thanks to its Dynamic Rear Steering system, which can turn the rear wheels up to 4 degrees in the same direction as the front wheels or in the opposite direction.
While the powertrain does provide more of a punch than any RX before it, the RX 500h is not quite as sporty on a curvy road. The sport tuned suspension is still pretty soft and focused on providing comfort, rather than minimizing body roll. Overall the RX does feel more planted to the road, but it would be nice if Lexus decided to amp up the performance a bit more with a true F version.
It also looks sportier thanks to its 2.4-inch longer wheelbase and shorter rear overhang. The rear track is also 2.7-inches wider, while the overall width has increased by an inch. The improved dimensions give the RX a sportier look.
The RX 500h is rated at 27 mpg city, 28 mpg highway and 27 mpg combined. Even with the extra power on tap, thanks to the hybrid system, the RX 500h is more fuel efficient than the RX 350 AWD (21/28/24).
Inside the 2023 RX has two rows of seats, there isn’t a three-row version, like the last generation. That role will likely be taken up by a new three-row crossover, that we’re expecting to be called the TX.
The RX’s cabin feels more modern and luxurious than before with its available 14-inch touchscreen and digital gauge cluster. The new infotainment system is a vast improvement over the previous RX, but it would be nice if some of the controls could be adjusted via a button or dial, like the drive modes. It’s a little annoying to have to use the screen to adjust the drive mode.
The RX 500h adds a bit sport to the interior with its bolstered front seats, steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters, aluminum pedals and black trim.
The pricing for the 2023 Lexus RX F Sport Performance starts at $62,750.
At the end of the day, the 2023 Lexus RX 500h is easily the most sporty and fun to drive RX yet. It’s still not a BMW M or Mercedes-AMG rival, but it can hold its own against more tame models, like the Acura MDX Type S.