The Lexus RX has been redesigned and re-engineered for 2023 with new powertrains including a plug-in hybrid and a pair of turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder gas engines. Other major changes include a new vehicle platform that keeps the same overall size but cuts weight, lengthens the wheelbase, increases rear legroom and cargo space, and provides a shorter rear overhang for a sportier look. Additionally, Lexus has dropped the three-row 350L and 450hL trims, the standard 350’s V6 engine, and the CD player and touchpad controller. Finally, it has added two new trims, the Premium + and F Sport Performance hybrid, and updated and expanded the standard suite of safety systems.
Lexus’ 2023 RX lineup gets its first complete redo since 2016, including an evolutionary exterior refresh and a complete rethinking of the interior. The redesign also makes room for the first-ever plug-in hybrid version, the RX 450h+, which we will review closer to its debut later in the model year.
These welcome changes should help keep the RX firmly ensconced atop the heap in the ever-growing, super-competitive midsize premium crossover segment, where it faces off with worthy rivals including the Acura MDX, Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Audi Q7, BMW X5, Genesis GV80, Lincoln Nautilus, Mercedes-Benz GLE, and Volvo XC90.
What the top-selling RX has going for it is that it leaves the niches to the other guys and offers shoppers a quiet, comfortable, well-equipped cabin, decent handling and power, a luxury-car ride, contemporary good looks, and the promise of Lexus quality and reliability.
The RX family also offers plenty of choice. There are multiple trims in each variety, whether gas-only, standard hybrid, or (soon) plug-in hybrid; rear- or all-wheel drive; and regular or sporty. In all, there are 10 gas-only and gas-electric hybrid trim levels (14, counting AWD options), even before the plug-in hybrid version is introduced. No competitor can match that breadth and depth, although BMW and Volvo do offer plug-in hybrid versions of their midsize crossovers.
Lexus dropped the RX-L with three-row seating for 2023, but it’s not a big loss as there wasn’t much room in the third row. Shoppers who really need seating for seven will have to look at the MDX, Q7, GV80, GLE, or XC90. Lexus will be introducing a longer TX crossover with a third row.
Also stripped from the 2023 RX lineup are the thirsty V6 engine and the much-criticized touchpad controller. Gas-only variants now have a turbocharged inline-four that gets 2 mpg more in combined city and highway driving. The touchpad controller was replaced by a new infotainment operating system that’s easier to navigate by touch or voice.
The 2023 RX is the same length as its predecessor, but the wheelbase has been stretched 2.4 inches, expanding cargo area and rear legroom. It is also an inch wider and, giving it a racier appearance, its roofline is almost 3 inches lower and the rear overhang is much shorter. Adding to its improved looks is the revised grille, which has lost its top third and now just looks really big instead of gargantuan.
The RX has never been the fastest, roomiest, or most technologically advanced midsize premium crossover, but it is the segment’s most broadly appealing model. It should stay that way for 2023.