• Huge improvement in interior tech
    • RX500h F Sport Performance is something new for Lexus
    • Range of variants means something for everyone
    • Significantly higher starting price
    • Limited rear headroom
    • Lack of seven-seat option... for now

    The Lexus RX is back.

    Now into its fourth generation, the large SUV is a pillar for the brand in Australia. A whopping 37,000 have been sold since it debuted Down Under in 2003, of which 10,000 are hybrids.

    Lexus has big plans for the new model. It has a longer wheelbase to free up more interior space, a new infotainment system designed to properly take the fight to what Germany’s finest have to offer, and more power across the board.

    It also packs a bold new look that tightly aligns it with the RZ450e electric car coming Down Under in May.

    Gone is the old base engine, bumping up the price of entry by around $15,000 for 2023.

    At the top end of the range is a new F Sport Performance model that, with a sticker price of $126,000 before on-road costs, is $12,500 more expensive than the previous-generation, seven-seat flagship model.

    How does the Lexus RX fare vs its competitors?
    View a detailed breakdown of the Lexus RX against similarly sized vehicles.

    How much does the Lexus RX cost?

    Pricing is up for the new RX. Previously, the range opened at just north of $73,000 before on-road costs, now you’re on the hook for at least $87,500 before on-roads.

    Lexus correctly points out the fact the entry RX300 petrol has been axed for 2023, and the new car is a better-equipped, higher-specification vehicle than before.

    At the bottom end of the range, the RX is priced in line with the BMW X3 and Audi Q5. At the top end, the RX500h F Sport Performance aligns with entry-level versions of the BMW X5 and Audi Q7.

    Even with the price increase it’s hard to argue the RX doesn’t represent solid value alongside its German competitors, especially when you consider the fact none offers a straight rival for the RX350h or RX500h.

    2023 Lexus RX pricing:

    • Lexus RX350h
      • 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 RX500h F Sport Performance AWD: $126,000

    All prices exclude on-road costs

    What is the Lexus RX like on the inside?

    Like its NX little brother, the RX has been given a high-tech makeover for 2023.

    There are no more fiddly touchpads or hidden buttons here, just a thoroughly modern touchscreen neatly integrated into a handsome dashboard. It’s a huge improvement, and despite the obvious similarities with the smaller NX it feels a bit more grown up.

    Where the little NX feels a bit claustrophobic up front with a sunroof fitted, the RX has a better seating position for taller drivers. There’s more legroom, more space beneath the roof lining, and more space between the front passengers to stretch out.

    All the materials look and feel high-quality, as you’d expect of a Lexus. The steering wheel in all models is trimmed in what feels like soft, waxy leather, and even lower-end cars look high-end.

    With generously bolstered seats and a smattering of extra badges, F Sport models in particular look fantastic – check out the red seats on the car pictured above.

    The touchscreen is significantly better than the touchpad-based tech in the last RX, with crisp graphics and a logical layout. The loss of physical buttons isn’t keenly felt because there are still big shortcuts for your climate controls, and Hey Lexus voice prompts generally work well.

    The cameras are clear and bright, and the Land Rover-style view that shows what’s happening beneath your car is handy.

    Along with four USB ports (three USB-C, one USB-A), there’s a wireless phone charger up front.

    The driver is faced with digital instruments loosely mimicking the cluster from the LFA supercar, without the cool mechanical sliding ring that previously featured.

    It doesn’t move the game on, given the lack of mapping or much in the way of personalisation, but it’ll make returning owners feel right at home.

    There’s plenty of storage space up front for your drink bottles, snacks, and personal bits and pieces.

    Rear seat room is solid. Legroom represents an improvement over the last car, thanks no doubt to a longer wheelbase, and the bench is nice and plush. Headroom isn’t great though, especially with a sunroof fitted.

    With the rear seats reclined it’s okay for adults back there, but with them set to a more upright position that frees up extra boot space it’s a bit tight back there. Removing the sunroof improves things, but it’s still tighter than in a BMW X3, let alone an X5.

    With two USB-C ports, air vents, a fold-down central armrest, and retractable window shades, the kids aren’t short of creature comforts.

    Claimed boot space is 612 litres with all five seats in place, expanding to 1678L with the second row folded.

    F Sport models feature a space saver spare, while Luxury and Sports Luxury models have a tyre repair kit.

    What’s under the bonnet?

    The 2023 Lexus RX350h uses a 2.5-litre four-cylinder hybrid powertrain with 184kW of power. It’s available with either front- or all-wheel drive, and uses an eCVT. It sticks with an older nickel-metal hydride battery in place of the lighter, more energy dense lithium-ion units rolling out in some Toyota hybrids.

    The RX350 is powered by a 2.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 205kW of power and 430Nm of torque. It’s all-wheel drive only and uses an eight-speed automatic transmission.

    The RX500h F Sport Performance uses a 2.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder hybrid powertrain with a total system output of 273kW. It features a ‘high-output’ eAxle rear electric motor and DIRECT4 all-wheel drive system. The 0-100km/h time is a claimed 6.2 seconds.

    Claimed combined fuel economy for the RX350h FWD is 5.0 litres per 100km, jumping to 5.4 litres per 100km for the RX350h AWD.

    The petrol-only RX350 uses a claimed 8.7L/100km on the combined cycle, and the range-topping RX500h uses a claimed 6.5L/100km.

    All three models drink 95 RON premium unleaded. Petrol models have a 67.5 litre fuel tank, hybrids have a 65L tank.

    How does the Lexus RX drive?

    How the RX drives depends on how you specify it.

    The RX350h is expected to be the best-seller, and it’s the model that drives most like you’d expect of a large Lexus. The ride in our Sports Luxury tester was relaxed, with a lovely long-travel feeling and a hint of float over highway crests.

    It’s near silent at a cruise, with hardly any wind or road noise sneaking into the cabin. The hybrid powertrain can be a bit noisy when you push it, though.

    Like all Toyota hybrids, it defaults to electric mode off the mark and accelerates to around 30km/h using the motor before the petrol engine kicks in. When it does, the engine fires smoothly and quietly.

    On light throttle inputs it generally hums away in the background, blending the two power sources to deliver the most efficient progress possible.

    Put your foot down and it gets a decent move on, even though the V6 has been ditched for a four-cylinder engine here, but the e-CVT transmission accomplishes that by raising revs and holding them there. That means it can all get a bit droney behind the wheel.

    Stepping to the RX350 F Sport changes the character slightly. The petrol engine makes more noise, but it’s a growly noise that almost has a hint of Toyota GR86 about it, and the CVT has been subbed for a conventional automatic.

    It offers solid punch off the mark, and gives you a decent shove in the back through the mid-range when the turbo is singing. It’s a sportier, more conventional feeling alternative to the 350h when you put your foot down, although the trade-off is naturally fuel economy.

    The F Sport feels tauter than the relaxed Sports Luxury. It doesn’t have the same slightly floaty feeling on the highway, instead offering better body control, but even on pitted country roads it’s never uncomfortable or crashy.

    It feels keener to turn than the RX350h when you’re in a hurry, and there’s less body roll in the corners – but if it’s a sporty RX you’re after, the RX500h F Sport Performance is the pick. It debuts a number of technologies the RX badge, including rear-wheel steering and a turbocharged engine as part of a hybrid powertrain.

    It’s designed to sit above the F Sport trim, but below full-on F models such as the old IS F and GS F.

    There’s a noticeable step up in performance. Put your foot down and rather than feeling slightly strained, there’s a healthy slug of low-down torque from the electric motor that doesn’t relent as the revs rise.

    With a conventional (long-geared) six-speed automatic, it pulls hard out to the redline in a way even the regular petrol doesn’t.

    Rather than a screamer that loves chasing the top end, the powertrain almost feels like a distinctly Lexus take on to the big-displacement diesel engines on offer in German alternatives. It packs a punch but never feels like it’s trying too hard, although the circa-6.0 second run to 100km/h (rather cruelly) sees it fall into the warm, not hot, part of the SUV world.

    The rear-wheel steer helps make the F Sport Performance feel more agile than the regular RX350 on tight roads. It turns in nicely, and does a better job disguising its size when you’re in a hurry.

    At low speeds the rear-wheel steer turns up to four degrees in the opposite direction to the fronts; at higher speeds it turns them in the same direction to virtually lengthen the wheelbase. It’s the sort of thing we wouldn’t have expected from Lexus in the past, but fits nicely into the 500h’s character.

    What do you get?

    RX350h Luxury highlights:

    • Bi-LED headlights
    • LED daytime running lights, fog lights
    • Heated exterior mirrors with driver’s side auto-dimming
    • Rear privacy glass
    • 19-inch alloy wheels with bright machined finish
    • Roof rails
    • Power tailgate
    • 14-inch touchscreen infotainment system
    • Wireless Apple CarPlay
    • Wired Android Auto
    • 12-speaker Panasonic sound system
    • Satellite navigation
    • DAB+ digital radio
    • Lexus Connected Services
    • 5 x USB-C, 2 x 12V, 1 x USB-A
    • 8-way power front seats with two-way power lumbar
    • Heated front seats
    • Leatherette upholstery
    • Tri-zone climate control
    • Power-adjustable steering column
    • Auto-dimming rear-view mirror
    • Paddle shifters
    • Ambient lighting

    Enhancement Pack ($5100 FWD, $5500 AWD) adds:

    • Panoramic sunroof
    • Leather upholstery
    • Ventilated front seats
    • Easy access seat
    • Driver’s seat memory
    • Head-up display
    • ‘High-grade’ instrument cluster display
    • Smart key card
    • Wireless phone charger
    • Touch-sensitive steering wheel controls

    RX350 F Sport adds:

    • Turbocharged four-cylinder engine
    • 21-inch gloss black alloy wheels
    • Bi-LED headlights
      • BladeScan technology
      • Adaptive high-beam
      • Dynamic auto-levelling
      • Cornering lights
      • Headlight cleaners
    • F Sport exterior appearance package with unique bumpers, grille
    • Adaptive suspension
    • Aluminium monobloc six-piston calipers
    • Hands-free power tailgate
    • Surround-view camera
    • Dimpled leather-wrapped steering wheel
    • F Sport scuff plates
    • F Sport shifter
    • F Sport instrument cluster
    • Heated and ventilated front sport seats
    • Aluminium pedals
    • Easy access driver’s seat
    • Touch-sensitive steering wheel controls
    • Multi-colour ambient lighting
    • 21-speaker Mark Levinson sound system
    • Active Noise Control
    • Wireless phone charger
    • Rear door sunshades
    • Smart key card

    The $3000 Enhancement Pack 1 adds a panoramic sunroof, while the $1100 Enhancement Pack 2 adds a digital rear-view mirror, semi-automatic parking assist, and a heated steering wheel.

    RX350 Sports Luxury and RX350h Sports Luxury add (over Luxury):

    • Bi-LED headlights with adaptive high-beam
    • 21-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels
    • Surround-view camera
    • Adaptive suspension
    • Heated and ventilated front seats
    • 21-speaker Mark Levinson sound system
    • Active Noise Control (RX350 only)
    • 10-way power front seats with semi-aniline leather upholstery
    • 4-way lumbar support and memory
    • Heated steering wheel with woodgrain trim
    • Power-folding and reclining rear seats
    • Heated and ventilated outboard rear seats

    The $3000 Enhancement Pack 1 adds a panoramic sunroof, while the $900 Enhancement Pack 2 adds a digital rear-view mirror and semi-automatic parking assist.

    RX500h F Sport Performance adds (over F Sport):

    • Enhancement Pack 1 + 2
    • Matte black 21-inch alloy wheels
    • Black aluminium monobloc front calipers
    • Piano black bumper side moulding
    • Body-coloured rocker trim
    • Active Sound Control
    • Dynamic Rear Steering

    Is the Lexus RX safe?

    The Lexus RX has yet to be tested by ANCAP or Euro NCAP.

    Standard safety equipment includes:

    • Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
    • Intersection collision avoidance support
    • Emergency steering assist
    • Lane departure warning
    • Lane Tracing Assist (lane centring)
    • Blind-spot monitoring
    • Rear cross-traffic alert
    • Driver fatigue monitoring

    Some models also include a surround-view camera.

    How much does the Lexus RX cost to run?

    The Lexus RX is backed by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.

    Maintenance is required every 12 months or 15,000 kilometres, and the first five services will each set you back $695 under the Lexus capped-price service program.

    Lexus also offers its owners a range of perks as part of its Encore program, ranging from the option to have their vehicle collected before a service, access to concerts or events, and benefits from partners such as Ampol.

    CarExpert’s Take on the Lexus RX

    Quiet, comfortable, and luxurious, the new Lexus RX range doesn’t deviate far from the formula laid down by its strong-selling predecessors.

    Its interior is a big step forward, finally adding a properly modern infotainment system to the quality materials and attractive design we’ve come to expect from Lexus, and there’s polish to the way the RX350 and RX350h drive.

    Neither will set your pulse racing, but comfort and refinement have always been core to the RX appeal anyway, right?

    As for the RX500h F Sport Performance? It’s something a bit different from Lexus.

    The rear-wheel steering system and punchy hybrid system give it a distinct character alongside the rest of the range.

    It delivers on the promise of that new F Sport Performance badge, and represents an intriguing alternative to hotter takes on the BMW X5 or Mercedes-Benz GLE.

    If only you could get one…

    Click an image to view the full gallery.

    MORE: Everything Lexus RX

    Scott Collie

    Scott Collie is an automotive journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Scott studied journalism at RMIT University and, after a lifelong obsession with everything automotive, started covering the car industry shortly afterwards. He has a passion for travel, and is an avid Melbourne Demons supporter.

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    Overall Rating

    Cost of Ownership8
    Ride Comfort8.5
    Fit for Purpose8.5
    Handling Dynamics8
    Interior Practicality and Space7.7
    Fuel Efficiency8.5
    Value for Money8
    Technology Infotainment8.5
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