2023 Lexus RX debuts – fifth-gen SUV gets bold new design; 3.5L V6 dropped; RX 500h with 373 PS added

Here it is, the fifth generation Lexus RX. A core model in the luxury carmaker’s line-up, the all-new SUV replaces its AL20 predecessor that has been around since 2015, bringing with it a significant design overhaul as well as range of electrified powertrains to fulfill its “Lexus Electrified” vision.

Built on the TNGA (GA-K) platform that is also used for the latest NX, ES and other Toyota models, the RX maintains the same overall length of 4,890 mm as the former model, although the wheelbase has grown to 2,850 mm (+60 mm). The SUV is also wider than before at 1,920 mm (+25 mm), while its height has been increased to 1,695 mm (+10 mm).

The carmaker says the switch to the GA-K platform also resulted in a lower centre of gravity by 15 mm as well as wider tracks (+15 mm front and +45 mm rear), the latter reducing the yaw moment of inertia.

As before, you’ll still find MacPherson struts at the front and a newly developed multi-link suspension for the rear. These components are positioned optimally to create a larger interior space, while the dampers feature swing valves to ensure dampening force from very low speed ranges – Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) is standard on F Sport models.

2023 Lexus RX debuts – fifth-gen SUV gets bold new design; 3.5L V6 dropped; RX 500h with 373 PS added

Elsewhere, the mounting points for the rear suspension and its member mounting points have been highly reinforced using short pitch welding, laser screw welding and structural adhesives, creating a rigid high-torsion rear body frame. For a more linear steering response, highly rigid die-cast aluminium is used for the steering support.

Besides being more rigid, the GA-K platform also makes the new RX 90 kg lighter than the previous model. Highlights include the front fenders that are now made of aluminium, while the B-pillars are made of 2 GPa (gigapascal) class hot-stamped steel, the carmaker claims the latter is a world first in terms of both safety and weight reduction.

The new chassis is mated to a body that has been styled according to the concept of ‘Alluring x Verve’, which “expresses a captivating, seductive presence, and a powerful sense of spirit,” Lexus said. More than that, the design serves to highlight the company’s Direct4 technology, which we’ll get to later.

The spindle grille has been a symbol of Lexus for the longest time, but for the new RX, the company said the design is now expressed as a three-dimensional mass, evolving into something called the spindle body.

2023 Lexus RX debuts – fifth-gen SUV gets bold new design; 3.5L V6 dropped; RX 500h with 373 PS added

The new Lexus identity, as it is referred to, is something we’ve already seen on the RZ, and gives the RX a highly emotive look. There’s still a prominent spindle grille, although it appears to be a little smaller and less pointed than before. This is a result of the new bonnet, which has a raised tip and is joined by bodywork that “fuses” with the grille just above the Lexus emblem. The A-pillars have also been pushed back to emphasise the elongated hood.

The headlamps are now slimmer on the new model and still come with boomerang-shaped LED daytime running lights, while the corner intakes on the bumper have a more angular structure. For the side view, the rear edge of the back window has been lowered and the creased surface extending from the rear door to the rear fenders creates a highlighted loop that connects to the side sills.

Wheel sizes ranging from 19 to 21 inches will be made available, and as with its predecessor, the new RX retains the floating roof look and kinked window line near the rear doors. As for the rear, the RX follows in the footsteps of the RZ by adopting wide-width taillights that wrap around its sides and feature the Lexus script in the middle.

Another defining cue is the tailgate, which has a more pronounced pointed edge because of the rakish rear window. Further down, you’ll find two small outlets at the corners, a sizeable chrome arch in the lower apron and exhaust pipes that are tucked away.

Lexus also touts its aerodynamic steering technology, which manages airflow over the body to reduce the coefficient of drag, promote brake cooling and improve high speed stability. Efforts include an engine undercover that incorporates a dimpled shape design to generate micro vortices under the floor, minimising the height differences between the door and glass surface, and reshaping the rear spoiler to suppress turbulence.

For more aggression, the F Sport package swaps in a new front bumper that features even larger corner intakes with black trim, along with a criss-cross grille mesh pattern. The rear also gets a different bumper design that eschews the chrome for two large faux outlets bearing the same pattern as the front grille. Completing the package are exclusive 21-inch aluminium wheels and six-piston brake calipers.

Moving inside, we find a two-level dashboard that is simpler in its design compared to the outgoing RX. The main attraction here is the centre touchscreen, which comes in 9.8- or 14-inch sizes and provides access to all vehicle functions, so we can bid farewell to the much-maligned Remote Touch interface.

The screen comes with integrated dials for controlling media volume as well as the standard triple-zone climate control. It also sits above the centre air vents, which are curiously split by a silver surround that frames the buttons for the hazard lights, heated steering wheel and around-view monitor.

2023 Lexus RX 500h F Sport Performance

Progressing further, we end up at a small cubby and two USB-C ports, followed by the centre console that houses a covered storage space, two cupholders, a shorter gear shift lever and an array of buttons for other vehicle functions.

Other controls for the trip computer, memory seats, fuel door and boot are located on the left side of the driver (flipped for RHD markets), below another divided air vent and beside a digital instrument cluster and steering wheel from the NX.

Lexus offers seven interior colours to choose from, pairable with a variety of trim and other finishes depending on what’s offered in the market the RX is sold in. The exterior can be had in 13 colours, including a new Sonic Copper that joins other options like Sonic Iridium and Terrain Khaki.

Practicality-wise, the new platform, revised dimensions and fitment of suspension components allow for better interior space, as the front/rear couple distance has been increased by 12 mm for a roomy rear seat space. There’s also more legroom for easier ingress and egress thanks a lowered floor.

2023 Lexus RX debuts – fifth-gen SUV gets bold new design; 3.5L V6 dropped; RX 500h with 373 PS added

On luggage space, Lexus says the boot loading height has been reduced by 30 mm, increasing the cargo length by 50 mm. The boot will also hold four suitcases (77 litres/63 litres two each) or four golf bags.

In the pursuit of quietness, the RX also takes lessons from the NX with features such as improved door sealing by way of special weather strips, a twin-lock structure to suppress engine hood vibration and high sound insulation front door glass.

Moving on to safety and driver assistance, the RX shares the Proactive Driving Assist (PDA) system – part of the Lexus Safety System+ suite – with the NX to support the driver by anticipating risks according to the driving situation and avoiding them if necessary, such as crossing pedestrians or potential hazards that may jump out.

This is in conjunction with other functions like Pre-Collision Safety (PCS) or autonomous emergency braking, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control with all-speed follow, Lane Departure Alert, Advanced Drive (traffic jam support), Advanced Park (automated parking with remote function) and Safe Exit Assist.

2023 Lexus RX debuts – fifth-gen SUV gets bold new design; 3.5L V6 dropped; RX 500h with 373 PS added

Finally, let’s discuss powertrains. The new RX will be offered with engines from the Toyota Dynamic Force family, with the 3.5 litre V6 dropped entirely. Leading the range is the RX 500h F Sport Performance, which features the Direct4 system mentioned earlier, which sees a rear-mounted electric motor (dubbed eAxle) working together with a T24A-FTS 2.4 litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine.

The engine comes with its own parallel hybrid system and is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission instead of an e-CVT that is typical of Toyota hybrid powertrains. In operation, the engine drives the front wheels while the electric motor handles the rear, giving you all-wheel drive and a total system output of 373 PS (367 hp) and 550 Nm of torque.

Next on the list is the plug-in hybrid RX 450h+ – a first for the model – which features an A25A-FXS 2.5 litre naturally-aspirated four-pot, an e-CVT, an 18.1-kWh lithium-ion battery as well as front (182 PS/180 hp/134 kW) and rear electric (54 PS/54 hp/40 kW) motors.

This setup is also used by the NX 450h+ and RAV4 Prime, and in the RX 450h+, the A25A-FXS serves up 185 PS (182 hp) and 227 Nm. Together with the electric motors, this variant has a combined system output of 309 PS (304 hp).

2023 Lexus RX debuts – fifth-gen SUV gets bold new design; 3.5L V6 dropped; RX 500h with 373 PS added

Drivers will have four modes to choose from (EV, Auto EV/HV, HV and Self-charging) and all-wheel drive is provided by the rear electric motor that makes up the E-Four system, allowing for front-rear torque distribution between 100:0 and 20:80.

Moving on, we arrive at the RX 350h, which also uses the A25A-FXS (190 PS and 239 Nm) with a series-parallel hybrid system linked to a 1.6-kWh battery and eCVT. The RX 350h’s combined system output is 249 PS (246 hp) and 316 Nm and can be had with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (E-Four).

Lastly, there’s the Lexus RX 350, which gets the T24A-FTS making 279 PS (275 hp) and 430 Nm, mated to a Direct Shift eight-speed automatic transmission – also available with front- or all-wheel drive.