Twenty-five years ago, Lexus introduced its first luxury SUV, the Lexus RX, to the world. The model is also one of the pioneers of the segment, arriving in Australia five years later just as the amber of the SUV flame started.
Over five-generations, the RX has evolved from a conservative, reliable SUV to a sharp-looking luxury SUV that’s gunning for things like the Mercedes-Benz ML, BMW X5 and Volvo XC90.
Like the superseded model, the RX continues to push the design boundaries with the latest model. Chief amongst them, the 2nd evolution of the spindle grille has been softened and now integrates into the body for a more cohesive look.
The entire line-up has also been electrified and downsized, with the outgoing model’s V6-based hybrid replaced with four-cylinder petrol hybrid. A 273kW high-output turbocharged hybrid RX 500h flagship has also been introduced for the first time, targeted at drivers.
Based on an iteration of Toyota’s GA-K platform, the latest RX sports the same length as before, but has a longer wheelbase and wider track for a more confident stance. What’s more, the new RX is also some 90kg lighter overall which should improve dynamics.
With handsome looks, a beautifully crafted interior, and the latest technology, the 2023 Lexus RX range has all the right ingredients to take on its competitors. But the competition is stiff. Let’s find out if it delivers.
How much is the Lexus RX?
The new RX hits the market with a three-tier line-up available in Luxury, Sports Luxury, F Sport and F Sport Performance guise.
Pricing is up across the board and kicks off with the RX 350h Luxury FWD (front-wheel drive) from $87,500 plus on-road costs, or around $14,500 more than the old entry-level model.
At the top of the range is a new F Sport Performance model with an asking price of $126,000 plus on-road costs, which is $12,500 dearer than the previous seven-seat range-topper.
Even with the price increase, the new RX still represents great value compared to its German rivals.
Below are current pricing at the time of writing, including models we tested for this review in bold.
2023 Lexus RX pricing (excluding on-road costs):
- Lexus RX 350h
- Luxury FWD: $87,500
- Luxury AWD: $92,000
- Luxury FWD + Enhancement Pack: $92,600
- Luxury AWD + Enhancement Pack: $97,500
- Sports Luxury AWD: $111,900
- Sports Luxury AWD + Enhancement Pack 1: $114,900
- Sports Luxury AWD + Enhancement Pack 2: $115,800
- Lexus RX350
- F Sport AWD: $99,900
- F Sport AWD + Enhancement Pack 1: $102,900
- F Sport AWD + Enhancement Pack 2: $104,000
- Sports Luxury AWD: $105,900
- Sports Luxury AWD + Enhancement Pack 1: $108,900
- Sports Luxury AWD + Enhancement Pack 2: $109,800
- Lexus RX 500h F Sport Performance AWD: $126,000
What do you get?
As you’d expect from Lexus, the RX range is generously appointed. Below are some of the feature highlights of each grade.
Lexus RX 350h Luxury highlights:
- Bi-LED headlights
- LED daytime running lights
- LED front and rear fog lights
- Driver’s side heated and auto-dimming wing mirror
- Rear privacy glass
- Roof rails
- 19-inch five-spoke alloy wheels with bright machined finish and dark grey metallic surface treatment
- Heated, 8-way adjustable electric front seats with 2-way lumbar adjustment
- Synthetic leather trim
- Three-zone climate control with nanoe X air purification
- Rear air vents
- Electrically adjustable steering column with easy access
- Auto-dimming rear-view mirror
- Ambient lighting
- Power tailgate
- 14-inch high-definition touchscreen
- Wireless Apple CarPlay
- Wired Android Auto
- 12-speaker Panasonic sound system
- Satellite navigation
- DAB+ digital radio
The RX 350h Luxury are available with an optional Enhancement Pack for an additional $5,100 (2WD) and $5,500 (AWD). It adds:
- Panoramic moonroof
- Leather-accented seat trim
- Ventilated front seats
- Easy access seat
- Driver’s seat memory
- Touch-sensitive steering wheel controls linked with the head-up display
- High-grade instrument cluster
- Smart key card
- Wireless phone charger
RX 350 F Sport gains:
- ‘High grade’ 3-projector bi-LED headlights with BladeScan technology, dynamic auto-levelling, cornering lamps and headlamp cleaners
- Power tailgate with kick sensor
- Easy access driver’s seat
- Smart key card
- Rear door sunshades
- Multi-colour ambient lighting
- Colour head-up display and touch-type steering wheel controls
- High grade instrument cluster
- Wireless phone charging
- Active Noise Control
- 21-speaker Mark Levinson premium sound system
- 21-inch gloss black finish alloy wheels
- F Sport front and rear bumpers and grille
- Black roof rails and mirror caps
- Dimpled leather steering wheel
- Scuff plates
- Aluminium pedals
- Heated and ventilated F Sport seats
- Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS)
- Aluminium monoblock six-piston callipers
The F Sport is available with a $3,000 Enhancement Pack 1 adding a sliding panoramic roof.
Or a $1,100 Enhancement Pack 2:
- Digital rear-view mirror
- Intelligent Parking Assist
- Heated steering wheel
RX 350 and 350h Sports Luxury adds the following over F Sport:
- 10-way power adjustable front seats with semi-aniline leather upholstery and four-way lumbar support with memory function
- Heated steering wheel with woodgrain ornamentation
- Power-folding and reclining rear seats
- Heated and ventilated outboard rear seats
- 21-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels
Sports Luxury can further be customised via a $3,000 Enhancement Pack 1 adding a sliding panoramic roof, and $900 Enhancement Pack 2 adding digital rear view mirror and Intelligent Parking Assist.
The flagship RX 500h F Sport Performance adds the following over F Sport:
- Enhancement Pack 1 and 2 as standard
- Matte black 21-inch alloy wheels
- Black aluminium monobloc front calipers
- Front and rear bumpers with piano black side moulding
- Black exterior window surrounds
- Body coloured lower side rocker trim
- Piano black inner side mirror garnish
- Active Sound Control
- F Sport scuff plates with black logos
- Dynamic Rear Steering
How safe is the Lexus RX?
The Lexus RX range was crash tested in 2022 by ANCAP and awarded five-stars, scoring well on all fronts.
Its latest Pre-Collision System has been expanded, adding night-time cyclist and daytime motorcyclist detection to the existing vehicle, pedestrian and daytime cyclist detection.
It also introduces intersection collision avoidance support for both vehicles and pedestrian to reduce the likelihood of an accident when entering an intersection.
Other safety highlights include:
- Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
- Emergency steering assist
- Lane departure warning
- Lane tracing assist
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Driver fatigue monitoring
- Static object detection (warns against clipping an adjacent vehicle when exiting a parking space)
- Reverse camera with dynamic guidelines
- 360-degree camera (F Sport, Sport Luxury and F Sport Performance)
- Safe exit assist
- Automatic high beam
What is it like on the inside?
Lexus says the new RX’s interior is based around ‘Tazuna’, or the ‘reins of a horse’ in Japanes. Translated, it means more direct and intuitive controls.
Indeed, it’s a great improvement over the old clunky interior, no less the hard to use laptop style touchpad.
The high-tech interior consists of a cinematic 14-inch touchscreen with crisp graphics and logical layout and is complemented by a fully digital driver’s instrument. There is a range of timber look or metallic trim depending on the model, while all but the entry Luxury variant come with 14 interior lighting themes or that is also customisable through a 50-colour mood lighting array.
While the Panasonic sound system on lesser models are good, they are no match for the excellent Mark Levinson system found on F Sport and above.
There are high quality materials and finishes everywhere you look. Even the leather on the steering wheel is soft and waxy for the luxurious feel.
As you’d expect from a Lexus, attention to detail is immaculate even for seemingly less important aspects of the cabin such as the nigh-on perfect stitching and silent electric window operation.
Extra points for Lexus too for providing big short cuts underneath the touchscreen and physical dials for the climate control.
The 360-degree camera is bright and clear and comes with handy see-through features and shows what’s beneath the car.
However, the digital driver’s instrument isn’t full-width like some rivals which limits the display data. It’s also not as configurable as others with no ability to display maps.
The front seats are broad and roomy with excellent bolstering, especially on F Sport models. Power adjustment is standard across the board, as is seat heating.
Those climbing into the rear are equally well catered for with reclining rear seats, separate rear climate controls, built-in rear door sun blinds (except Luxury), and USB-C ports.
There are plenty of storage options around the cabin including a centre console box with clever dual-hinged lid that can be opened to face the driver or passenger.
Lexus has dropped the seven-seat L variant for the latest-generation RX with all models now five-seat only.
Around the rear, all models get a powered tailgate (with kick sensor on F Sport and above) that reveals 612L of boot space, expanding to 1,678L with the second row folded (power-folding on Sports Luxury and above).
Interestingly, only F Sport models get a space saver spare, with other variants making do with a tyre repair kit.
What’s under the bonnet?
The Lexus RX 350h is motivated by a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol hybrid producing 184kW of power that is channeled to either the front wheel or all four wheels via a continuously-variable transmission (CVT).
It employs the older nickle-metal hydride battery instead of the lighter, more energy dense lithium-ion battery found in some other Toyota hybrids.
While power and torque are down compared to the previous V6 hybrid, fuel consumption has dipped slightly from 5.7L/100km to a claimed 5.0L/100km. Our combined test average hovers around 6.7L/100km.
The RX 350 is the only non-hybrid model in the range and is powered by a 2.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine with 205kW of power and 430Nm of torque. It’s all-wheel drive only and is matched with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Combined fuel consumption is rated at 8.7L/100km although we managed an impressive 6.7/100km on test.
Sitting at the top of the range is the new RX 500h F Sport Performance flagship which uses a 2.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol hybrid combined with a ‘high-output’ eAxle rear electric motor and DIRECT 4 all-wheel drive system.
It churns out 273kW and 551Nm and is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission that enables it to dash from 0-100km/h in a claimed , while returning 6.5L/100km.
How does the Lexus RX drive?
With three different powertrains and chassis setup, the way it drives will depend on how you specify your RX but there’s something for everyone.
The RX 350h Luxury/Sports Luxury is the most relaxing if you do regular long-distance driving. It’s comfortable and remarkably quiet with both wind and road noise conspicuously absent at cruising speed.
Like all hybrid, the electric motor kicks in at take off until the car hits around 30km/h before the petrol engine takes over without a hiss. The 350h will also operate in EV mode during light throttle cruising up to around 80km/h.
It won’t win the traffic light drag race but the chubby torque curve is harnessed seamlessly via the smooth CVT transmission. The only criticism is the engine gets a little droney if you put your foot down due to the rising revs.
Those wanting a slightly sportier drive should step up to the RX 350 F Sport. It ditches the hybrid system and CVT for constant all-wheel drive via an eight-speed automatic.
In this setup, torque is split 75 per cent to the front and 25 per cent to the rear in normal operation. Should conditions require, the system can split it 50:50.
While it isn’t as tranquil as the hybrid, the RX 350 is still a luxury SUV at heart with impressive refinement and ride comfort. The engine sounds slightly sportier and unlike the previous V6 RX 350, torque is available lower in the rev range.
The ride is just a tad firmer than the Luxury/Sports Luxury but still does an impressive job of insulating its occupants from road harshness. It also comes with adaptive suspension which can firm things up in Sport mode.
The steering is nicely weighted and appropriately direct to give the 350 F Sport a more athletic demeaner.
The RX 500h F Sport Performance can be likened to Lexus’ take on BMW’s M Sport. It combines a version of the RX 350’s turbocharged engine with electric assistance on both the front and rear axle. Dubbed Direct 4, there is no mechanical linkage in the all-wheel drive.
It uses a six-speed automatic transmission with a wet start clutch to launch the car from 0-100km/h in a claimed 6.2 seconds.
The RX 500h F Sport Performance is the first implementation of a hybrid system as a high-performance model by Lexus. It also debuts rear-wheel steering in the RX.
With 273kW and 551Nm on tap from low down, the 500h is certainly the most powerful model of the range and a noticeable step up in performance.
And like a typical Lexus, the execution is always refined with a nice soft burble (albeit piped through the speakers) buttery smooth drivetrain.
The rear-wheel steering also does a good impression of shrinking the RX down when you throw it around corners. Along with the fast steering, it turns in nicely with good body control.
The rear wheels turn up to four degrees in the opposite direction to the fronts at low speeds to reduce its turning circle, while turning in the same direction at higher speeds to aid handling.
Its character matches what the badge says on the tailgate and is certainly the sportiest RX we’ve ever driven.
All Lexus models in Australia come with a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.
The RX requires a services every 12 months or 15,000km with the first five services capped at $695 per service.
Design & Comfort
Performance & Handling
Equipment & Features
- Significantly improved interior technology
- Extensive range – something for everyone
- RX 500h is finally a performance oriented model from Lexus
- Frugal hybrid engines
- Seven-seat option not available
- Price rises across the board
The 2023 RX range is a significant advancement over the superseded model with improvements in technology. With three distinct powertrain and trim level, there’s a model for everyone.
The RX’s comfort, refinement and handsome good looks will certainly tick boxes for most, while the brand’s renowned Encore Programme is an added bonus that further sets it apart from competitors.
We also like the RX 500h F Sport Performance. It brings a noticeably sportier flavour to the range while retaining the understated look that some Lexus buyers might prefer.
Lexus has certainly delivered a compelling product that doesn’t disappoint.
2023 Lexus RX pricing and specification
|Price (Excl. on-road costs):
|5 years/unlimited kilometers
|Warranty Customer Service:
|3 years roadside assist
|Country of Origin:
2.5-litre in-line four-cylinder petrol electric hybrid:
140kW @ 5,200rpm petrol, 134kW front electric, 40kW rear electric, 184kW combined
239Nm @ 4,300-4,500rpm petrol, 270Nm front electric, 121Nm rear electric
2.4-litre turbocharged in-line four-cylinder petrol:
205kW @ 6,000rpm, 430Nm @ 1,700-3,600rpm
2.4-litre turbocharged in-line four-cylinder petrol electric hybrid:
202kW @ 6,000rpm petrol, 64kW front electric, 75.9kW rear electric, 273kW combined
460Nm @ 4,300-4,500rpm petrol, 292Nm front electric, 168.5Nm rear electric, 551Nm combined
|RX 350h: e-CVT
RX 350: Eight-speed automatic
RX 500h: Six-speed wet start clutch automatic
|RX 350h: Front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive
RX 350: All-wheel drive
RX 500h: All-wheel drive
|RX 350h: 7.9 (fwd), 8.1 (awd)
RX 350: 7.6
RX 500h: 6.2
|Power-to-weight ratio (kW/t):
|RX 350h: 93 (fwd), 89 (awd)
RX 350: 80
RX 500h: 126
|Combined Fuel Consumption (L/100km):
|RX 350h: claimed: 5.0/tested: 6.7
RX 350: claimed: 8.7/tested: 7.7
RX 500h: claimed: 6.5/tested: 6.7
|5-door SUV, 5 seats
|Dimensions (L/W/H/W-B) mm:
|Kerb Weight (kg):
|RX 350h: 1,995 (fwd), 2,060 (awd)
RX 350: 2,005
RX 500h: 2,160
|Boot Space (min/max)(L):
|Towing Capacity (kg):
|RX 350h: 1,500 braked/750 unbraked
RX 350: 1,500 braked/750 unbraked
RX 500h: 1,500 braked/750 unbraked