Consistency of character is an often-overlooked advantage. It’s an much more often-overlooked lure. The brand new 2023 Lexus RX is in an existential hammock between virtuous ultimate and the hardening amber of what it has at all times been. And it’s misplaced its V6.
Launched because the 1999 RX 300, the RX created a brand new market phase: the luxurious, car-based, crossover. Primarily a gussied-up model of the Japanese-market Harrier, the RX immediately offered startlingly properly to these consumers who trusted Toyota high quality, appreciated restrained styling, wanted the utility of a tall wagon, and gave not a shite about pace or driving dynamics. It’s such a successful system that it’s been copied by practically each different producer with absolute constancy. And the RX continues to be the spine of Lexus’ gross sales success, with the division transferring 115,320 of them throughout 2021. That is essentially the most ever.
First off, the brand new 2023 version of the RX is immediately recognizable as an RX. The profile has been tweaked with a 2.4-inch longer wheelbase and a tail that’s been bobbed, however from its goofy “spindle” grille to its full-width taillights, it’s so very RX. Constructed to immediately match into each upscale mall parking zone from Redondo Seashore to Manhasset. Loads of folks will slide from their lease on a 2020 mannequin over to a 2023 and hardly discover the change within the fourth bay of their storage.
Inside, the RX has undergone the inevitable digital makeover. The primary show in entrance of the motive force is definitely learn, easy in its design, and in any other case… one more digital show in an period of all issues now digital. The usual secondary, center-dash show in base RX 350 fashions–if Lexus really sells any base RX 350s–is a 9.8-inch unit of utter adequacy. Most RXs will probably be delivered with the premium 14.0-inch show as a result of each human being’s life is healthier if being always irradiated by 1000’s of illuminated pixels.
Lexus has ditched the dopey touchpad it had utilized in favor of touchscreen tech that appears to be the settled customary at this time. Keep in mind to maintain a provide of little display screen cleaners useful because the finger smudges accumulate. The software program powering all of the screens is intuitive sufficient, the graphics are good sufficient, and as with most all fashionable digital interfaces, it’s all ok. And sure, there’s a quantity knob.
Present luxurious automobiles are all about drama. Enter a contemporary Mercedes, and there’s temper lighting, a riot of various upholstery and trim textures, a digi-dash that virtually dances with pleasure that the motive force has arrived, and a branded sound system that can break up atoms at full quantity. Similar with BMW, Audi, Lincoln, Cadillac, Infiniti, and, sure, Lexus. However not less than there’s some restraint within the RX’s cabin; a way that the designers had some concept of when sufficient is sufficient. Not that it isn’t over-the-top in some methods, solely it’s not as relentlessly over-the-top as a lot of the competitors.
Like most different Toyota/Lexus merchandise, the important constructing block of the brand new RX is the TNGA platform. On this case, it’s the TNGA-Ok variation that’s additionally used within the Toyota Highlander, Venza, and Camry and Lexus’s ES sedan and barely smaller NX crossover, So, there’s nothing startling in regards to the new RX’s substance. The nostril is lofted skyward on a pair of McPherson struts whereas the aft is supported by a multi-link system. There are discs throughout for brakes, the steering is electronically assisted rack-and-pinion and there’s a rear-steering system to assist in nimbleness.
What’s gone is the Lexus’ beloved 3.5-liter V6. As a replacement within the base RX 350 is a 2.4-liter turbocharged 4 rated at 275 horsepower. That’s down 20 horsies from the outdated V6, however the turbo 4 is rated at 317 lb-ft of peak torque from 1700 to 3600 rpm. That’s up 49-grunt models from the 2022 version’s 268 lb-ft of peak torque at 4700 rpm. Within the RX 350, the brand new transversely mounted engine is lashed to an eight-speed automated transaxle driving the entrance wheels in customary trim or all 4 wheels as most house owners will configure their automobile.
This can be a typical 21stcentury turbo 4 that’s been tuned to ship satisfying-enough thrust at low RPM when hooked up to a transmission programmed to maintain these RPMs low. There’s nothing high-strung or keen about this engine; it needs to function all the best way from crawl-to-light trot. It doesn’t need to romp.
That in thoughts, the general driving expertise is easygoing. It’s a Johnny Mathis and Dionne Warwick duet of an engine; all comfortably close by of the groove, however not fairly within the groove. Mellow, however not Frank Sinatra or Ella Fitzgerald nice. And if anybody studying this doesn’t know who Johnny Mathis and Dionne Warwick are, they’re too younger for this Boomer Trawler anyhow. The shifts can solely be detected with superior echo-location gear, and all efforts at constructing pleasure with the paddle shifters have been politely rebuffed.
The farming collective at Automobile and Driver estimates the front-drive RX 350 accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds with the all-wheel-drive model performing that feat in 6.9 seconds. Educational numbers. As a result of in the actual world, this can be a half-throttle machine that can head up previous its direct-drive sixth gear and into overdrive seventh and eighth as quickly as mechanically attainable. Its true skills lie in effectively lugging dwelling stuff from Nordstrom and masking states at a barely past stately tempo. It will likely be superior at these issues.
On the RX mannequin hierarchy, one step past the RX 350 is the RX 350h hybrid which mixes a 185-horsepower, 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle engine (no turbo) with Toyota’s famend hybrid system backed by a nickel-metal hydride battery pack. Mixed, the engine and electrical motors (one in entrance, one in again) within the 350h are good for a claimed 246 horsepower. Utilizing a repeatedly variable transmission, the 350h ought to return, Lexus claims, 34 mpg on the freeway and 37 mpg within the metropolis. Brief publicity additionally signifies it’s like driving a cumulus cloud that’s happy some Dramamine.
Extra intriguing is the RX 500h that mixes the common 350’s turbo engine with the hybrid system and a six-speed automated transaxle. If not strictly keen, this 366-hp model not less than is eager-adjacent. And with 406 lb-ft of torque between 2000 and 3000 it virtually flies over even the tallest pace bumps essentially the most diabolical home-owner’s affiliation in Arizona dare to put in. In F-Sport trim, it really has some sharpness to its dealing with; like the very best butter knife ever.
Pricing hasn’t been introduced but, however anticipate the costs to begin at slightly below $50,000 for the bottom RX 350 and rise to method $60,000 for a loaded RX 500h F-Sport. No three-row “L” model has been introduced, and it’s doubtless that one other automobile will declare that place within the Lexus lineup throughout the subsequent 12 months.
After all, the brand new RX is nice at being what it’s. For an R&T obsessive, it’s more likely to be encountered as the selection of a non-enthusiast partner, dad or mum, or grandparent. It will likely be the selection for household highway journeys whether or not that be cross-country or cross-the-parking-lot to Chili’s for rib night time. And that’s each this machine’s best benefit and largest problem.
The RX consumers are getting old. And the actuarial tables aren’t working on this automobile’s favor. The brand new RX will fulfill those that already prefer it, however is there something about this new one to excite newcomers to the model? Huh? Effectively, is there?