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There’s plenty to love about the 2023 Lexus NX 350h. Its exterior styling is handsome and edgy, its interior is filled with all of the luxurious amenities you could need, and it’s fuel-efficient. However, all of this efficiency and luxury comes at a price. With a starting MSRP of $44,205, the NX 350h is over $10,000 more than the 2023 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, which is equipped similarly. Does that mean this Lexus SUV is just a fancy version of the RAV4 Hybrid and not worth the extra cash? Let’s find out.

The 2023 Lexus NX 350h and Toyota RAV4 Hybrid have similar powertrains

A front angle view of the 2023 Lexus NX 350h
2023 Lexus NX 350h | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

The 2023 Lexus NX 350h and the Toyota RAV4 are powered by a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine that’s mated to a duo of electric motors. There’s a motor up front to assist with powering the front wheels and a motor between the rear axles to activate the all-wheel drive functionality when needed.

The only difference between these two powertrains is the power output. The Lexus is rated at 240 hp, while the Toyota is rated at 219. I can imagine that’s mainly due to different software tuning and to make the NX 350h look a little better on paper. I have driven both SUVs, and it’s hard to notice a power difference between them on the road.

In my recent experience with the Lexus NX, I noticed that the engine is smooth when taking off from a stop, thanks to the electric power. Once it gets going, the gas engine roars when you press heavily on the accelerator. It’s not intrusive, but it’s not super quiet, either. There’s plenty of mid-range torque for getting onto freeways and going up hills. Also, the Lexus SUV’s fuel efficiency is decent, as I was able to squeeze an average of 34 mpg in mixed driving situations.

The EPA estimate is 41 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway, which sounds a little lofty. Interestingly, those estimates best the RAV4 Hybrid’s figures of 38 and 35, respectively. Perhaps the lack of power plays a factor?

Maybe, but I averaged similar figures in the RAV4 Hybrid, and its powertrain felt the same on the road, regardless.

An exterior view of the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
Toyota RAV4 Hybrid | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

The Lexus NX 350h feels less utilitarian than the RAV4 Hybrid

Although some may argue that Lexus vehicles are “Toyotas with leather,” that’s untrue. For example, you’ll find SofTex synthetic leather in the RAV4 Hybrid and a NuLuxe interior in the NX 350h. Yes, they’re basically the same thing.

However, in the Lexus, you’ll also find more luxurious appointments like heated/ventilated seats, an optional 14-inch touchscreen infotainment system, and a Mark Levinson sound system. Although you can get similar features in the RAV4, the materials, and components you’ll find in the NX 350h kick things up a notch.

The Lexus SUV also provides a more comfortable and stylish environment for its occupants. There are soft-touch materials everywhere, wood trim on the door panels, and the seats feel softer and more supportive. The design elements are rounded as well, which brings a softer appeal to the eye as opposed to the RAV4’s utilitarian design.

If the RAV4 Hybrid SUV was a gardening glove, the NX 350h is a white cotton chauffeur’s glove in comparison.

Is the Lexus NX 350h worth the extra $10,000?

A rear view of the 2023 Lexus NX 350h
2023 Lexus NX 350h | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

If you enjoy the finer things in life but want to ensure you save gas so you can afford them, the Lexus NX 350h will suit you well. It may have a similar powertrain, features, and body style as the RAV4 Hybrid, but it executes it all in a nicer package. That said, it’s worth spending the extra cash on the Lexus, but you’ll have to pay close attention to the details to find out where it all went.