Not sporty sufficient, not environment friendly sufficient—the 2023 Lexus RX 500h F Sport

A 2023 Lexus RX 500h F Sport seen head-on
Enlarge / Fashionable Lexuses are dominated by an enormous hourglass grille that reminds GenXers like me of Battlestar Galactica.

Jonathan Gitlin

One thing about automotive physique kinds brings out feelings in individuals. Witness the once-mighty station wagon’s fall from grace; at one time, it was the household supercar, now it is largely simply adored by individuals on the Web (who by no means really purchase them) and reviled by everybody else. The wagon gave strategy to the minivan, which in flip misplaced favor to the SUV, however the actual winner over the previous few a long time has been the crossover. One thing of an “I do know it after I see it” class, the crossover is extra car-like than an SUV, and extra SUV-like than a automotive and topic to loads of arguments over what does and does not fairly slot in that four-wheeled pigeonhole.

You probably have emotions concerning the crossover—and from the feedback I do know that a few of you do—it is most likely Lexus’ fault for creating them within the first place. In 1998, the then-upstart Japanese luxurious model launched the RX 300, a horny luxurious hatchback with an off-roader’s experience top, and a brand new section was born. Now, practically 1 / 4 of a century later, the RX is in its fifth iteration, on a brand new GA-Okay platform that is stiffer and lighter than earlier than.

Its styling has gotten somewhat extra difficult of late—significantly that huge Cylon-like entrance grille. The powertrain choices are rather less difficult than they was, nevertheless, as your entire lineup strikes to four-cylinder turbocharged engines, a few of that are supplemented by a hybrid system. In time, the US will get a plug-in hybrid RX, and the devoted RX 350h returns to the vary, however new for mannequin yr 2023 is the (deep breath) RX 500h F Sport Efficiency AWD, which begins at $62,750.

That is the brand new king of the RX vary, and within the outdated days its moniker would recommend the presence of a giant outdated 5.0 L V8 below the hood, behind that huge all-black cheese grater. However now we’re all about downsizing, and as an alternative you may uncover a 2.4 L turbocharged four-cylinder engine that sends 271 hp (202 kW) and 339 lb-ft to the entrance wheels through a six-speed gearbox, along with a permanent-magnet synchronous motor. A second electrical motor powers the rear wheels, including as much as 107 hp (80 kW) at that axle. Each electrical motors are fed by a nickel-metal hydride traction battery, and the powertrain’s complete output is a most of 366 hp (273 kW) and 406 lb-ft (550 Nm).

The Lexus RX 500h's engine bay.
Enlarge / The Lexus RX 500h’s engine bay.


With 4,751 lbs (2,155 kg) for that torque to maneuver, the RX 500h F Sport does not really feel precisely sluggish—0-60 mph takes 5.9 seconds—however it additionally does not really feel that fast as compared with the numerous battery-electric SUVs and crossovers we have examined this yr. What’s extra, the four-cylinder powertrain sounds harried and frantic whenever you take it to the higher finish of its rev vary, which is jarring in what’s presupposed to be a luxurious automotive. I additionally suspect the experience would have benefited from some higher-profile tires, though it was by no means crashy or disagreeable.

As an alternative, the crossover most popular a extra relaxed driving fashion; I attempted for some time to see if it was potential to drive with out firing up the inner combustion engine, however in contrast to different Toyota and Lexus hybrids we have examined, the RX 500h didn’t default to electrical propulsion-only beneath 25 mph (40 km/h).

Gasoline effectivity is also higher. Lexus quotes a mixed 27 mpg (8.71 L/100 km). I should take its phrase for that, as a result of the brand new infotainment system doesn’t seem to have the ability to preserve observe of general mileage; the journey pc would both inform me my instantaneous mileage, or it might current me with a bar graph displaying the previous couple of miles.

Our take a look at automotive was geared up with the 14-inch display model of that infotainment system, which is way improved in comparison with even latest classic Lexuses. However the UI designers have nonetheless made some irritating decisions right here and there. I do remorse not attempting out the voice recognition and clever assistant to see whether or not Lexus has reached function parity right here with BMW and Mercedes-Benz. However I think most drivers will use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto for his or her infotainment wants, each of which work wirelessly or through USB.

Lexus and its mother or father firm, Toyota, have gone all-in on a regular suite of superior driver help methods to make their automobiles safer. This ADAS suite consists of ahead collision warning and computerized emergency braking (with pedestrian detection in daylight and low-light, and bicycle and bike detection in daylight), lane departure warning and steering, adaptive cruise management, adaptive high-beam headlights, and street signal help, amongst different capabilities. Some drivers could discover the lane departure somewhat overeager, however it may be simply turned off.

Despite a clever hybrid system, the RX 500h F Sport never felt sporty enough to justify its name.
Enlarge / Regardless of a intelligent hybrid system, the RX 500h F Sport by no means felt sporty sufficient to justify its identify.


For me, the RX 500h did not fairly hit the mark. Assuming one likes the styling, the RX 350h can also be a hybrid and averages a mixed 36 mpg (6.53 L/100 km). It additionally is not a lot slower, and whereas Lexus appended the “F Sport Efficiency” to the RX 500h’s identify badge, it struggles and labors to stay as much as that.

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