2023 Lexus RX 350h First Drive: What’s New on This Super Popular Luxury SUV?

It’s safe to say that the Lexus RX doesn’t need an introduction. Since its inception in 1998, Lexus has sold over 2.3 million RX models, which makes this luxury SUV one of the biggest household names. For the 2023 model year, the Japanese automaker completely redesigned the RX. We have a chance to drive a pre-production RX 350h model. Here is what we have noticed so far.

A group of Lexus RXs
Lexus RX Group | Lexus

The 2023 Lexus RX adopts a new infotainment system and interior

2023 Lexus RX 350 infotainment system
2023 Lexus RX 350 | Lexus

It might sound weird to start talking about the 2023 Lexus RX by addressing its infotainment system, but it’s an important point. Why? Because the previous generation, which dates back to 2016, utilized a touchpad controller on the center console.

It wasn’t that hard to use, but it was annoying, especially while driving. However, the 2023 model now comes standard with a 9.8-inch touchscreen, but a large 14-inch screen is available on the higher trims and via an option package.

As for the rest of the interior, Lexus sharpened it with futuristic design elements that you can also find in the new LX and NX models. There’s an electronic Prius-style shifter, and the rear seatbacks recline to give passengers the first-class experience. Additionally, there are new color hues, including red and brown, and a choice of materials like open-pore wood, bamboo, and aluminum. Overall, the 2023 RX has the soft and plush interior that buyers have always come to expect from the brand.

The Lexus RX rides on a new platform and suspension

2023 Lexus RX 350
2023 Lexus RX 350 | Lexus

Now that we have covered the inside of the car let’s look at the outside. The Lexus RX has a sleeker look to it, starting in the rear end. There’s a wraparound taillight treatment that works well into the car’s body line and curves, and the bold fenders give the RX a brawnier look.

Upfront, a new spindle front grille is more integrated into the Lexus RX’s front end. It looks less offensive than before, which we applaud Lexus for doing. The RX also rides on Toyota’s new GA-K architecture, which is shared with other models like the Highlander, RAV4, and the Lexus NX.

The architecture made the new model 198 pounds lighter than before, and it has a new multi-link rear suspension to improve the RX’s ride and handling. Compared to the RX 350 model that we have driven in the past year, we can say so far that this new RX 350h does feel smoother, and there seems to be a little less road noise. Not that the RX wasn’t super quiet before.

The Lexus RX 350h’s powertrain feels smooth and powerful enough

2023 Lexus RX 350h interior
2023 Lexus RX 350h interior | Lexus

The 2023 Lexus RX 350h that we’re driving for a week is powered by a 2.5-liter engine mated to an electric motor. Together, the hybrid duo puts out 246 hp and 233 lb-ft of torque. That’s enough power to send the RX sailing up to highway speed easily and quickly, although it’s not exactly a rocket.

That doesn’t matter, though, because fuel efficiency is the name of the game. So far, we have been able to manage around 32 mpg in mixed driving. However, the EPA estimates it can get up to 36 mpg in combined driving.

We’ll drive it around a little more and see what it can do. But so far, the 2023 Lexus RX 350h is a better car than before.

RELATED: 5 Reasons the 2020 Lexus RX 350 Is Ideal For Long Commutes