The Lexus RX has led Lexus’s sales for years. And of course it does. it’s a stylish SUV that combines Toyota reliability with leather, technology, good looks, and the giant Lexus grille. For 2023 Lexus is totally reimagining the RX as a more exciting SUV, but will it hold up to competitors from Acura, Mercedes, Volvo, Lincoln, and newcomer Genesis?
The redesigned 2023 RX aims to keep its sales crown
Drive through nearly any suburb and you’ll see dozens of Lexus RX SUVs, which isn’t a surprise as it’s the brand’s best-selling SUV. Lexus redesigned the RX for 2023 and added the new Lexus Safety System Plus 3.0, a new F Sport handling package, updated styling, and more for this five-seat SUV. It comes standard with a 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with front- or all-wheel drive, but you can order it in hybrid and plug-in hybrid models. The new model has a longer wheelbase, which should help with stability, but it’s the same length as the previous version, which should help with parking.
The New RX should sell for about $50,000, but with options, it will easily eclipse the $60,000 range.
The Acura MDX is the sporty Lexus RX alternative
Its MSRP is $49,050, but for that you get a seven-passenger SUV (with a removable second row) that emphasizes the sport in sport utility vehicle. The standard Acura MDX has a sophisticated multi-link and double wishbone suspension tied to a 290-horsepower V6, but step up to an A-Spec package, and you get all-wheel drive, a flat-bottom steering wheel, and heated/ventilated front seats. Like the Lexus, it focuses more on on-road prowess and technology rather than off-road ability, which makes this SUV great for sprinting around town, if not tackling the Rubicon.
Of course, we like the Type S version, which adds a 355-horsepower turbocharged V6, an air suspension with ride height modes, quad exhaust and massaging seats. You do pay a premium, however, for the Type S, which starts at $67,350.
The Mercedes GLE 350 set the standard in the class (in 2019)
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz GLE 350 is getting a bit old, having last been fully updated in 2019, but that doesn’t mean it’s outdated. The Benz set the standard in the midsize luxury SUV segment with a powerful engine, in the Benz’s case a 255-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine, and tons of options. The base price is about $56,000 for the GLE, but for that you also get Mercedes’s new voice-activated control system, dual 12.3-inch screens, and several safety and technology options. Of course you can step up the more powerful GLE 450 which comes with even more features like active body control and a mild hybrid, but it can get expensive and starts at $63,500.
The Volvo XC90 is the safe alternative to the Lexus RX 350
The Volvo XC90 Core starts at $57,095 and has seats for up to seven people, though the back is tight for adults. Volvo has always focused on safety, and the XC90 earned a Top Safety Pick Plus rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, or IIHS. The Volvo’s interior certainly leans into the brand’s Swedish heritage and the dash and seats look like they came out of a high-end furniture catalog. The Volvo XC90 is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine tied to a 48-volt electric hybrid motor, but stepping up to the Plus trim gets you a 295-horsepower version.
All-wheel drive is standard. Volvo’s plug-in hybrid version, the XC90 Recharge, starts at $71,900.
The Lincoln Nautilus makes a value proposition
Many Lexus buyers won’t cross-shop their RX with a Lincoln, but the Nautilus makes a great case for luxury and value. The Lincoln has a beautiful interior with soft-touch leather, a large 13.2-inch touchscreen with SYNC 4, and a lot more for $44,090. That lower base price allows you to fully equip the Nautilus for less than $60,000 with options like heated seats, a 2.7-liter twin-turbo V6 with 355 horsepower, better audio and Co-Pilot360.
The top-level Black Label version starts at $66,710, and is basically a fancy trim package with nicer wood and metal trim and the bigger engine standard. Lincoln has also made strides in reliability and at J.D. Power the Nautilus has a “great” reliability score.
The Genesis is the baby Bentley alternative to the Lexus RX
The base GV80 2.5T AWD starts at $55,550 and this baby Bentley makes a compelling case for its value in a stylish SUV. The GV80 looks like a Bentley, and aims high to bring ultra-luxury levels of style to a lower price point. The Genesis is the luxury version of the Hyundai Palisade, which means that its bones are strong, it drives well, and packs a lot of utility. The top trim 3.5T V6 AWD Advanced+ trim starts at $70,600, but it does offer seven seats, heated second-row seats, and remote smart parking assist.
The new RX will have a lot of work to do to keep its sales crown in the midsize SUV segment against a strong bevy of competitors. Time will tell, but the competition is certainly fierce in the midsize luxury SUV marketplace.