Seven years have passed since Lexus introduced its fourth-generation RX, and while a dramatic departure stylistically than the more conservative model it replaced, time always takes its toll. The RX’…

Bold new 2023 Lexus RX revealed with 367-hp hybrid

2023 Lexus RX 350 Premium
The new 2023 Lexus RX 350, shown here in base Premium trim, will be available this coming fall.

Seven years have passed since Lexus introduced its fourth-generation RX, and while a dramatic departure stylistically than the more conservative model it replaced, time always takes its toll.

The RX’ continued success (it’s long been its mid-size luxury crossover SUV segment’s number-one seller, in both in Canada and the U.S.) means than even what once seemed daring and different can start to look commonplace and dated, but a fresh new RX will soon remedy any softening in the sales department.

Evolution of outgoing RX design makes for a fresh new look

2023 Lexus RX 350 Premium
The new design is more evolutionary than revolutionary.

First off, Lexus’ distinctive spindle grille is gone, but not entirely. As RX Project Chief Designer Jota Kusakari explains in a video (see below), it’s now a “spindle body,” encompassing the entire SUV.

This can clearly be seen up front, where the bulging hood forms into a body-colour nose-cap that melds almost seamlessly into the blackened grille opening below, much like Lexus’ new RZ electric. The spindle shape continues to flair outward as it reaches the lower valance, similarly to the previous RX, while it’s accentuated further via corner vents to each side.

Spindle grille gives way to new “spindle body-concept”

2023 Lexus RX 350 Premium
The spindle grille still exists, but the unique styling feature is more integrated into the entire design now.

As dramatic as the frontal redesign, the spindle body-concept enhances the new RX’ rear design even more than the outgoing version, where an angled crease, parallel to the rear clip cutline, slices upwards from the aft portion of each rear wheel cut-out, overtop an identically angled rear corner vent, before ending where a singular taillight element forms into its centre section, which, much like that on the smaller UX, features a light bar lamp that appears stretched between two sharply angled outer lenses.

This design increases the visual tension started by the previous RX, almost as if the new model’s sides have been pinched together slightly at centre. There are plenty of other details worth noting too, some being quite creative, yet while nothing remains the same from old to new, no one will mistake this fifth-generation RX for anything other than a mid-size Lexus.

All-new RX sits on Toyota GA-K platform architecture

2023 Lexus RX 350 Premium
The 2023 model provides a new take on the old RX’ LED headlight cluster.

The new RX is built upon Toyota’s well-proven GA-K platform, even though it might appear as if it was formed off the back of the outgoing model’s Toyota K architecture. The latter is due to some carryover design elements like the lower half of the just-noted grille opening, the sharply angled LED headlamps with checkmark-style LED driving lights, forward-canted vertical corner vents with circular LED fog lamps, sweptback roofline with floating D pillars, and sharply angled wraparound LED taillights.

Even the rear reflectors, which make way for sportier vertical vents, are at the same angle in more or less the same place, while F Sport models receive much larger vents next to new rear reflectors on the bumper cap, providing a much more aggressive appearance.

Lighter and stiffer makes for better handling

2023 Lexus RX 350 Premium
Lexus promises a more upscale interior experience, including an optional 14-inch touchscreen.

The GA-K platform is is up to 90 kg lighter in the RX than the outgoing model, thanks to new materials in the main framework, while torsional rigidity has increased as well. Along with this is a lower centre of gravity and better weight distribution, while an all-new multi-link rear suspension design, attached to a stiff high-torsion rear body frame, “facilitates more consistent suspension input/travel during acceleration, deceleration and steering moments,” says Lexus.

It should all result in optimized performance, while the new model’s 60-mm longer wheelbase should improve ride quality too. Additionally, a 60-mm shorter rear overhang should also aid handling as well as providing a more athletic looking stance. Lexus managed to maintain an identical overall length to the previous RX too, so those trading up should feel right at home when parking.

More rear passenger and cargo room is always welcome in the mid-size class

2023 Lexus RX 350 Premium
A longer wheelbase provides more rear legroom.

The new GA-K platform increases the “front/rear couple distance” too, which provides greater rear legroom, while cargo space is reportedly improved too, as is access to the load floor thanks to a lowered liftgate sill that decreases the lift-over height.

The GA-K platform, incidentally, also underpins the new Lexus NX, the luxury brand’s latest ES, plus plenty of others from the namesake mainstream volume brand’s lineup, such as the Toyota Camry, Avalon, RAV4, Venza, Highlander, and Sienna, thus it will once again be ideal for the automaker’s range of hybrid powertrains.

RX powertrain options expand from two to four

2023 Lexus RX 450h PHEV
A new RX 450h plug-in hybrid (PHEV) will be available as a late arrival.

Electrifying in mind, the entry-level RX 350 (more on that in a moment) will now be complemented by three different hybrid alternatives, including a new 2.5-litre four-cylinder version dubbed RX 350h that should be quite popular due to an expected lower price point and improved fuel economy than today’s RX 450h, with Lexus estimating a very thrifty 7.1 L/100km combined city/highway.

It should be more than capable of hauling a fully-laden mid-size crossover SUV too, being that it’s sourced from the aforementioned Venza and Sienna, which are now dedicated hybrids, plus Toyota’s Highlander Hybrid. It makes a net 246 horsepower and 233 lb-ft of torque, which is good for 7.6 seconds from zero to 100 km/h (just 0.2 seconds off of the base non-hybrid variant), plus comes mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) plus all-wheel drive.

Lexus adds plug-in and high-performance hybrid options to RX lineup

2023 Lexus RX 500h F Sport Performance
Top of the line will be new RX 500h F Sport Performance trim with 367-hp and 406 lb-ft of torque.

Additionally, there will be a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) using a similar name to the current V6-powered RX 450h, albeit named 450h+, but it’ll arrive later and therefore Toyota hasn’t provided any additional info. Due to the name, we should expect a bit more performance than the new RX 350, plus, of course, greater and more utile EV range.

Lastly, the pinnacle of RX performance will now be the all-new 500h F Sport Performance, which promises to be quite the mid-size family hauler, with the emphasis on hauling arse. This model combines the more potent 2.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder from the base RX 350 with a different six-speed automatic, an inverter, and all-wheel drive via Lexus’ eAxle unit boasting a stronger high output electric motor, inverter and reduction gearbox.

New 500h F Sport Performance puts RX in the mix with turbo-six Europeans

2023 Lexus RX 500h F Sport Performance
The RX 500h F Sport Performance gets special styling details front to back.

This results in a soul-stirring 367 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque, which is similar to what we can find under the hood of twin-turbo six-cylinder-powered competitors like the Genesis GV80 3.5T and Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 hybrid, and considerably more than what BMW’s X5 provides from its 3.0-litre turbo-six. The benchmark here is Volvo’s XC90 Recharge, with 400 hp and 472 lb-ft of torque from a turbocharged, supercharged and plug-in hybridized 2.0-litre four, but there will likely be a sizeable price difference between this new Lexus and the Swedish brand’s flagship SUV.

2023 Lexus RX 500h F Sport Performance
The new RX 500h F Sport Performance features Direct4 AWD for enhanced grip and handling.

Where the XC90 Recharge can sprint from standstill to 100 km/h in 5.6 seconds, the top-tier RX 500h F Sport Performance can do so in a respectable 6.1 seconds, whereas the two competitors’ city/highway combined fuel economy is rated at 8.8 L/100km for the Swede and a very similar 9.0 L/100km for the Japanese. Incidentally, the aforementioned Mercedes-Benz hybrid SUV scoots from zero to 100 km/h in 5.7 seconds while achieving a claimed city/highway rating of 10.4 L/100km at the pump, while the non-hybrid X5 xDrive40i matches the Mercedes’ fuel economy while providing a sprint time of 5.5 seconds. Strangely, BMW has a pricier plug-in hybridized X5 dubbed xDrive45e that uses more fuel than the regular version, at 11.5 L/100km combined, and takes 0.1 seconds longer to hit 100 km/h.

Lexus introduces Direct4 all-wheel drive for new RX 500h F Sport Performance

2023 Lexus RX 500h F Sport Performance
The F Sport interior promises a sportier design language.

Gripping pavement under the RX 500h F Sport Performance is a new Direct4 all-wheel drive system that Lexus is touting as its “highest technology all-wheel drive” system with “maximum grip, traction and acceleration in all situations.” Unfortunately, that’s all we know about it thus far, so we’ll just have to wait until more info comes out in order to learn what makes it better than Lexus’ regular AWD.

2023 Lexus RX 500h F Sport Performance
A unique F Sport gauge cluster pulls design details from the now legendary LFA.

Overall, Lexus claims its RX 500h F Sport Performance provides “a sportier, more performance-driven look and feel,” thanks to its straight-line performance, of course, plus that all-wheel drive system and opposed six-piston brake calipers to enhance stopping power. These are framed in a set of 21-inch aluminum wheels “that exude a wide, confident stance,” and upgraded 235/50R21 rubber for enhanced traction.

Additional RX 500h F Sport Performance details include a unique mesh grille, plus special front and rear bumpers, while the cabin gets a whole host of F Sport upgrades such as a perforated leather-wrapped steering wheel rim, paddle shifters, aluminum foot pedals, additional aluminum trim, leather upholstery, microsuede-trimmed interior door panels, F Sport branded scuff plates, and more.

New RX 350 base model promises strong performance and better efficiency

2023 Lexus RX 500h F Sport Performance
The RX 500h F Sport Performance’ seats look enveloping.

Back to the basics, the entry-level and sole non-hybrid RX 350 drops the current model’s 3.5-litre V6 for a much thriftier 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine that’s capable of 9.8 L/100km combined. It makes a solid 275 horsepower and 317 lb-ft of torque, and while this might seem like a downgrade of 20 horsepower compared to the outgoing model’s 295, it’s also an upgrade of 50 lb-ft of torque, resulting in a net positive. It also comes mated to a sporty yet efficient eight-speed automatic transmission with standard all-wheel drive, so therefore, once factoring in pricing, which has yet to be released, this will likely be Lexus’ best-selling RX trim level in Canada.

2023 Lexus RX 500h F Sport Performance
A panoramic sunroof is available.

The RX 350, and all RX trim lines, come standard with a generous supply of advanced safety and convenience technologies that the luxury firm dubs Lexus Safety System+ 3.0. This suite of features includes Pre-Collision System (PCS) with Pedestrian Detection, Intersection Support and new Motorcycle Detection; as well as All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control with new Curve Speed Management (DRCC); Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA); and Emergency Driving Stop System (EDSS).

On the high-tech options list is Advanced Park that helps out when parallel parking, or when wanting assistance for back-up parking, forward-facing parking, or forward-facing and back-up exiting.

Seven grades mean standard and optional equipment will be plentiful

2023 Lexus RX 500h F Sport Performance
The RX’ centre pass-through has always been a welcome bonus.

As for additional standard features, the new 2023 RX will get 19-inch alloy wheels, Lexus’ e-Latch proximity sensing access, and Lexus Interface, these details garnered from the Canadian press release, whereas the few options specifically mentioned include multi-coloured illumination accents, “tasteful” door trims, a head-up display (HUD), a 14-inch Multimedia Touchscreen Display, navigation, and a panoramic glass sunroof. Of course, there will be plenty more available in the 2023 RX’ seven grades, which will include Premium, Luxury, Ultra-Luxury, Executive, F SPORT 1, F SPORT 2 and F SPORT 3, but we’ll need to wait until closer to launch before knowing details.

2023 Lexus RX 500h F Sport Performance
More cargo space will be appreciated by current owners.

A total of 10 exterior colour choices will be available too, depending on the chosen grade, including Caviar, Copper Crest (a Lexus-first), Eminent White Pearl, Grecian Water, Iridium, Matador Red Mica, Nebula Gray Pearl, Nightfall Mica, Nori Green Pearl, and Ultra White, while inside there’s a choice of four grade-dependant “ornamentation styles” including Ash Bamboo, Black Cascade, Black Open Pore, and Dark Graphite Aluminum, as well as six cabin colours including Black, Birch, Macadamia, Palomino, Peppercorn and Rioja Red.

Lexus expects the new 2023 RX to go on sale at the end of 2022, so it’s probably a good idea to claim your spot in line if you want to be first.

 

The All-New 2023 Lexus RX – World Premier (9:50):

Introducing the All-New RX | Lexus (2:51):

The Lexus RX | Lexus (8:35):

2022 Lexus Product Showcase | Lexus (24:40):

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann

Photo credits: Lexus

Following its bigger RX brother’s lead, the Lexus NX came out of nowhere a half-decade ago to immediately become a frontrunner in the compact luxury SUV class. Currently sitting second in U.S. sales…

Lexus reveals second-generation NX with plug-in option for 2022

2022 Lexus NX 350 F Sport
Lexus has created an entirely new NX compact luxury SUV for 2022, and it should become even more popular than the current model.

Following its bigger RX brother’s lead, the Lexus NX came out of nowhere a half-decade ago to immediately become a frontrunner in the compact luxury SUV class. Currently sitting second in U.S. sales and fourth in Canada, Lexus hopes the new second-generation NX, just introduced last week, will become just as dominant as its mid-size offering, and it really doesn’t have far to go in order to catch up to the segment leaders.

Fourth in sales places the NX ahead of BMW’s mighty X3, not to mention (in order of popularity) the Cadillac XT4, Volvo XC60, Porsche Macan, Buick Envision, Lincoln Corsair, Infiniti QX50, Jaguar F-Pace, Range Rover Velar, Tesla Model Y, Land Rover Discovery Sport, Alfa Romeo Stelvio, and plenty of slower sellers sporting sweptback coupe-like body styles, like BMW’s X4, leaving only the Acura RDX, Audi Q5, and Mercedes-Benz GLC ahead on the sales charts.

2022 Lexus NX 350h
The new NX will be available in both hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants.

While the RX more than doubles deliveries of its next closest BMW X5 rival in the U.S., and comes close to doing likewise to Mercedes’ GLE here in Canada, the gap between NX and X3 sales in the U.S. was narrower than 4,000 units last year, meaning this redesign could push the Japanese model upward enough to claim most popular status. Here in Canada, another 50 sales in 2020 would’ve ranked it third in its class, leaving it about one thousand units behind the Q5 and slightly more than 2,000 deliveries below the RDX.

Exactly how this redesigned 2022 NX will impact the burgeoning compact luxury SUV market is unknown, but Lexus isn’t leaving anything to chance. First off, recently released photos of the all-new model make it clear the premium brand isn’t deviating far from the original NX formula that’s won it so many fans, with evolutionary new styling that should appeal to current buyers and newcomers alike. Its large spindle grille is as easily defined as ever, despite subtle changes all around including a more three-dimensional effect, while new LED headlights with an optional three-projector upgrade, combine some of the design elements from the previous model’s blockier main LED lamps, and the Nike swoosh-style “L-shaped” driving lights, into one curvaceous cluster.

2022 Lexus NX 450h F Sport
Both NX 350 and NX 450h plug-in models can be upgraded with a new F Sport Handling package.

Likewise, the old NX’ chunkier side panels have been smoothed out for a more refined look that’s still plenty muscular, while the rear design replaces the outgoing SUV’s angled individual LED taillights with a set of more organically shaped L-style lenses connected by a thin horizontal strip that spans the entirety of the liftgate, this design, which pulls cues from new UX and IS rear styling, dubbed a “full-width blade rear lamp” by Lexus. New wheels round out the updated package, the F Sport’s gloss black rims growing to 20 inches, but not before Lexus literally signed off on the design with five elegantly placed block letters designating its brand, the new NX becoming the first model in its lineup to replace its usual “L” centre rear branding with this new written logo.

2022 Lexus NX 350 F Sport
A completely reworked interior can be had with a 14-inch infotainment touchscreen in NX 350 and 450h trims.

Inside, a completely reworked dash panel adds a high-definition 7.0-inch multi-information display to the gauge cluster and projects an available 10-inch head-up display onto the windshield ahead of the driver, while the top half of the centre stack can been optionally taken over by a massive landscape-positioned 14.0-inch touchscreen display (that incorporates controls for the automatic climate control system and more) in top-line conventionally-powered and plug-in hybrid trims, meaning that Lexus finally appears to being giving up on controlling its infotainment systems through a lower console-mounted joystick or trackpad Remote Touch Interface.

Another sign of progress is the Lexus Interface multimedia system within that infotainment system, which has been designed specifically for the North American market. Along with the usual infotainment features, the new interface incorporates over the air updates and untethered smart phone connection to a user’s unique profile (that includes a new digital key for opening, starting up and remote parking via smartphone verification that can be shared with up to seven confidants), while a new Virtual Assistant, that incorporates multiple microphones, enhanced noise cancellation capability, plus seat-detection sensors for determining where users are sitting, has been designed to become the primary way users interact with the system. Optional wireless charging will keep devices ready for use, while connectivity via wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto comes standard.

2022 Lexus NX 350 F Sport
A 7.0-inch digital driver display provides clear, colourful graphics and configurable options.

The new NX’ standard touchscreen measures 9.8 inches diagonally, incidentally, which is pretty sizeable all on its own, with the end result of both touchscreen displays being a more familiar tap, swipe and pinch user experience for an easier learning curve when Toyota (or other volume-branded mainstream) buyers test this new Lexus SUV for the first time.

Astute readers will have noticed the words “plug-in hybrid” in the previous paragraph, a move that should have been expected by anyone with knowledge of Toyota’s RAV4 Prime. The RAV4 and NX have always shared platform architectures, with the new 2022 version now riding on the same TNGA-K (GA-K) underpinnings found in today’s RAV (codenamed XA50 for the RAV4 and AZ20 for the new NX), so therefore, incorporating the new RAV4 Prime’s PHEV components into the updated Lexus only made sense.

2022 Lexus NX 350 F Sport
Conventionally powered models receive a new eight-speed automatic with auto start/stop to save fuel.

Lexus’s new plug-in hybrid, dubbed NX 450h, is the first of its type for the luxury brand. Its EV range is claimed to be 58 km, depending on how it’s being driven, exterior conditions, and other factors, while it can achieve much higher speeds in EV mode than any previous Lexus hybrid, the latter of which normally kick into gasoline-assisted hybrid mode below posted city speed limits. The new NX 450h will deliver significantly higher levels of performance than previous hybrids too, or for that matter the upcoming non-plug-in NX 350h hybrid, even going so far as to add more drive bias to the rear wheels than the RAV4 Prime’s more comfort and fuel-efficiency focused setup, in order to improve high-speed handling.

Before delving into the regular NX hybrid, the new NX 450h plug-in puts out a fraction more horsepower than the RAV4 Prime it shares components with, with 305 ponies compared to 302, but the more luxurious NX takes 0.2 seconds longer to arrive at 100 km/h from standstill, its time being 6.2 seconds compared to 6.0 seconds flat for the plug-in RAV4, likely due to the extra weight carried by luxury features and refinement-enhancing sound-deadening materials.

2022 Lexus NX 450h F Sport
The new NX 450h plug-in hybrid can drive in all-electric EV mode for up to 58 km.

Lexus has achieved shorter charging times by installing a standard high-output, high-efficiency 6.6-kW Expedited Onboard Charger that reduces power loss when converting from AC to DC power, which means the NX 450h can achieve a full charge when hooked up to a 240-volt power source for about two-and a-half hours.

While understandable excitement surrounds this new plug-in hybrid variant, it’s important to point out that a total of four power units will be available from the onset of the new NX launch this fall. The base NX 250 model will receive a new 2.5-litre four-cylinder capable of 203 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. A new standard eight-speed automatic transmission with start/stop technology will help maximize fuel-efficiency, yet it won’t have any trouble keeping up with traffic either thanks to zero to 100 km/h acceleration of just 8.8 seconds. While hardly neck-snapping, the base NX will be quick enough for most peoples’ wants and needs, while this new model could also allow for a more approachable entry-level price point than the current SUV, being that today’s 2021 NX comes standard with a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder making 235 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque.

2022 Lexus NX 350h
Hybrid models gain a second rear-mounted electric motor resulting in eAWD.

The second engine in the NX hierarchy, which is expected to be “the volume model in Canada” according to a Lexus press release, will be a 2.5-litre four-cylinder mated to a hybrid drivetrain. The NX 350h will make 239 net horsepower, which is 20 percent more than the outgoing NX 300h hybrid thanks to a pair of high-torque electric drive motor-generators (the second motor is in the rear resulting in eAWD). The combination allows for a 7.4-second sprint from standstill to 100 km/h, which is 1.7 seconds faster than the current hybrid model. Even with this performance upgrade, however, Lexus estimates combined fuel economy of 6.5 L/100km, which is an impressive 1.0 L/100 km improvement over the 2021 model.

2022 Lexus NX 450h F Sport
Both the NX 350 and this NX 450h will be capable handlers, especially if choosing the F Sport Handling package.

Depending on priorities, you can consider the aforementioned NX 450h or the all-new NX 350 top-of-the-line (although pricing may dictate otherwise), the latter model housing a new 2.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder good for 275 horsepower and 317 lb-ft of torque. This model’s eight-speed automatic is tuned more for performance, the uprated combination resulting in standing-start acceleration times of 7.0 seconds to 100km/h, making it a significant half-second quicker than its turbo-gas-powered predecessor.

Handling should improve further due to a lower centre of gravity and more rigid body construction, Lexus having increased torsional rigidity via laser peening welding and new high rigidity foam, both firsts for the luxury division. Another first for the brand is a twin hood lock that increases front lateral flexural rigidity while also enhancing aerodynamics overall.

2022 Lexus NX 450h F Sport
Upgraded F Sport wheels measure 20 inches.

What’s more, both turbo and PHEV buyers can upgrade their suspensions with an F Sport Handling package that adds an Active Variable Suspension (AVS) along with front and rear performance dampers, plus the aforementioned 20-inch wheels and all of this trim’s usual styling enhancements from the outside in.

Additionally, a new electronically controlled, full-time all-wheel drive system improves NX 350 control both on and off the road. The driver now has the ability to optimize front and rear torque distribution in order to adjust for weather and road conditions, while a high level of standard electronic safety equipment will further keep things in check.

2022 Lexus NX 350h
Interior roominess will come standard.

These come as part of Lexus Safety System+ 3.0, which now features a new Risk Avoidance Emergency Steer Assist function that helps to avoid accidents via automatic braking and steering inputs. Another update includes a Left Turn Oncoming Vehicle Detection/Braking technology that does exactly what its name describes, while a new Oncoming Pedestrian Detection/Braking function will brake automatically when a driver turns left in front of pedestrians and/or cyclists.

Additionally, new standard Dynamic Radar Cruise Control features a “curve management” feature that will maintain the NX’ cruising speed to align with traffic flow while also keeping speeds in check when cornering. Lastly, a Digital Latch system, that features an electronically-actuated release, opens each door smoothly while scanning the periphery around the SUV with a Safe Exit system that’s been designed to prevent passing pedestrian or cyclist accidents.

2022 Lexus NX 350 F Sport
The new NX will provide more headroom and legroom front to back.

Extra head and legroom should make ingress and egress easier, not to mention more comfortable when seated front to back, while a new panoramic glass sunroof visually opens up the cabin to an airier experience. That revised interior will be quieter too, not to mention more calming thanks to 14 nature-inspired Thematic Ambient Illumination settings. Lexus has also redesigned the front seat heaters, and once again makes rear outboard seat warmers available, while the cargo area can now stow more gear.

2022 Lexus NX 350 F Sport
A large dual-pane panoramic sunroof will open up the cabin to blue skies.

For a final bit of NX news, the redesigned model will now be built in Canada, making the purchase of the new SUV as much of a patriotic move as a smart choice, the latter being a nod to better-than-average dependability and lower depreciation costs. The NX was a runner-up, next to Mercedes’ GLC, in the latest 2020 Canadian Black Book Best Retained Value Awards, the compact luxury SUV winner being Porsche’s Macan. Considering there are 16 competitors vying for top spot, tying for second is a noteworthy feat.

Lexus also took top honours in the most recent 2021 J. D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study, and while the NX once again failed to achieve best-in-class due to the mighty Macan, it earned a respectable second.

2022 Lexus NX 350 F Sport
Cargo space will go way up in the new NX.

NX quality may even improve thanks to its new home of production in Cambridge, Ontario, where it will be built alongside the RAV4 and larger RX. The Cambridge facility was the first production plant outside of Japan to build a Lexus model, and has earned many awards since it first did so in 1986. As for the new NX, its operations retooling and training efforts began in 2019, while production will start in the fourth quarter of 2021, with deliveries expected shortly thereafter. Pricing will be available closer to this launch date.

If you can’t wait that long, you may want to access up to $3,000 in additional incentives for the 2021 model. CarCostCanada members are saving an average of $4,416 when purchasing a new NX model, thanks in part to dealer invoice pricing that given them a significant edge when negotiation their best deal. Find out how the system works, and remember to download the free CarCostCanada app from the Apple Store or Google Play Store, so you can have all their critical info with you when you need it most.

Introducing the all-new Lexus NX (1:36):

Get to know the all-new Lexus NX (2:24):

The all-new Lexus NX reveal (7:30):

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann

Photo credits: Lexus

Lexus’ RX and I have had a long, mostly pleasant relationship, dating back to the beginnings of my career as an automotive journalist. In fact, since first starting to write road tests of new vehicles…

2019 Lexus RX and RX L 350 and 450h Road Test

2019 Lexus RX 350 F Sport
Lexus’ RX, shown here in RX 350 F Sport form, makes a dramatic visual statement. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Lexus’ RX and I have had a long, mostly pleasant relationship, dating back to the beginnings of my career as an automotive journalist. In fact, since first starting to write road tests of new vehicles at the turn of this century, I’ve tested, photographed and reviewed at least 15 individual RX models in every generation, state of trim, powertrain, and body style available, plus I’ve also been fortunate enough to attend a number of RX launch programs.

I once even piloted the then-new 2006 RX 400h from a waterfront hotel in Waikoloa Village (just outside of Kona), Hawaii, around the northern tip of The Big Island toward Hilo, and then inland a ways before summiting the 4,250-metre-plus (14,000-foot-plus) peak of Mauna Kea, all before heading back down the east coast, circling Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park’s 17.7-kilometer Kilauea Crater Rim Drive, and more (thoughts and prayers for all the families from Leilani Estates this time of year). That experience stamped an indelible memory on my heart, and no doubt helped forge a personal fondness for Lexus’ most popular model.

2019 Lexus RX 450h F Sport
There’s not too much visual difference between conventional and hybrid versions as seen by this RX 450h F Sport model. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

When taking in the paradisiacal coastal vistas, mountaintop views, thick tropical foliage and harshly rugged lava rock terrain of Hawaii’s amazing spectrum of climate zones, comprising 10 of the world’s 12 types, it’s good to be in a vehicle that isolates all occupants from the elements so effectively. From the dry heat of Kona to the humidity of Hilo, through the more temperate regions inland to the polar/tundra heights above, the RX never wavered from climate controlled comfort, something I’ve grown to appreciate even more with each weeklong test enjoyed over the years since. Truly, each and every time I get behind the wheel of this impressive luxury crossover SUV, I’m reminded why it’s been number one in its mid-size segment since day one.

2019 Lexus RX 350 L
The more basic RX gets a less aggressive front fascia, while this RX 350 L also includes a longer wheelbase and third row. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

It helps that Lexus defined this category together with Mercedes’ M-Class (now GLE) way back in 1997 when the original RX 300 arrived, a luxury crossover that’s held up so well I still see them on the roads in my community (not so with the first-gen ML). The RX has been around for 22 years and four generations, with the upcoming 2020 model about to bring a number of subtle styling updates and other improvements as part of its mid-cycle makeover, but despite its updates you may still want to consider getting a deal on a 2019.

Before delving into the 2019, updates for 2020 include refreshed front and rear fascias, slimmer triple-beam LED headlamps and revised taillights with new “L” shaped LEDs, redesigned 18- and 20-inch wheels, and claimed driving dynamics improvements via thicker yet lighter-weight stabilizer bars plus a firmer retuned suspension to enhance handling with new dampers that smooth ride quality. Handling in mind, new active corner braking reduces understeer and paddle shifters, now standard across the entire lineup, should enhance the driving experience, while new standard safety features include daytime bicyclist detection and low-light pedestrian detection along with Lane Tracing Assist (LTA), and lastly a revised infotainment system with new touchpad control and integrated Android Auto (a first for Lexus).

2019 Lexus RX 350 L
It’s hard to tell the difference between long-wheelbase and regular, but the rear section has been extended for greater interior room. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Even though its brand new, CarCostCanada members can save up to $2,000 in additional incentives on the 2020 RX, while those willing to forgo some of the improvements for a discount can access up to $4,500 in incentives for a 2019 model. According to the popular website, members are saving an average of $2,777 on both models, by first learning about available manufacturer rebates that your local retailer probably won’t tell you about, and then finding out the dealer invoice price before negotiating.

2019 Lexus RX 350 F Sport
The RX 350 F Sport is the model to choose for optimal performance. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Lexus will offer the same four RX models for 2020 as it did in 2019, including the RX 350 and RX 450h hybrid, plus the new long-wheelbase, seven-passenger RX L with both powertrains. Pricing starts at $55,350 for the 2019 RX 350, and then moves up to $64,500 for the 2019 RX 450h, $66,250 for the RX 350 L, and finally $77,600 for the RX 450 L, while the refreshed 2020 base model’s pricing expectedly rises by $700 (not bad considering all the aforementioned standard upgrades), but get this, pricing for all other trims have surprisingly been lowered by $5,700, $7,200, and $1,500 respectively due to new more affordable decontented packaging, or in other words, fewer standard features. This intelligent move makes the base long-wheelbase and base hybrid models accessible to many more luxury buyers, and still shouldn’t cause too much difficulty for Lexus retailers to sell off the remaining 2019s.

2019 Lexus RX 350 F Sport
The 2020 RX entirely updates this 2019 model’s front fascia. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

For this review I rounded up three 2019 Lexus RX models, including an RX 350, RX 450h and an RX 350 L, the two regular-wheelbase models in the Japanese luxury brand’s sportiest F Sport trim, and the latter long-wheelbase version in six-passenger Executive trim, its seat-count reduction caused by the replacement of its second-row bench with two individual buckets, while $6,050 Executive trim also adds LED illuminated aluminum front scuff plates, premium leather, a wood and leather-wrapped steering wheel rim, a head-up display, 15-speaker Mark Levinson surround sound audio, wireless device charging, 10-way power-adjustable front seats, power-recline rear seats, rear door sunshades, power folding rear seats, and a gesture-actuated power liftgate.

2019 Lexus RX 350 F Sport
The 2020 will offer new wheel designs, but 2019 RX rims are still great looking. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

F Sport trim takes a more sporting approach to styling and features as the name implies, with the former including a more aggressive front grille and fascia design, premium LED headlamps with cornering capability, a sportier set of 20-inch alloy wheels, an adaptive variable air suspension, Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM), special “F SPORT” branded scuff plates, a mostly digital LFA-inspired primary gauge cluster, a special steering wheel with paddle shifters and a unique shift knob, aluminum sport pedals with rubber inserts, unique performance seats covered in premium leather upholstery, plus more.

2019 Lexus RX 350 F Sport
Not the most refined in its class, the RX is nevertheless very good at pampering its occupants. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Combining three distinct RX trims into one review provides an opportunity to not only show their unique characteristics in the massive photo gallery above, but also to help would-be buyers choose between this luxury crossover SUV’s dual personalities, one visually and dynamically more sport-oriented, and the other biased towards luxury. To be clear, the sportiest RX 350 F Sport will never challenge a BMW X5 M, Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupe (or even the GLE 43 version), Audi RS Q8 (or even an SQ8 or SQ7), Porsche Cayenne, Jaguar F-Pace SVR, Range Rover Sport (or Velar SV Dynamic), etcetera, but as far as this comfort-oriented mid-size crossover SUV goes, it’s the sportiest, and more fun to drive than any Infiniti QX60, while more or less on par with the Acura MDX, Lincoln Nautilus, and probably the new Cadillacs XT6, although I have yet to drive the latter. This said the new 2020 RX should perform better than the three I’ve tested here, but we shouldn’t expect a radical improvement through the corners as it wouldn’t make sense for Lexus to stray too far from such an obvious winning formula.

2019 Lexus RX 450h F Sport
The F Sport cabin offers a more performance-oriented look, like the name implies. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Unlike most of the competitors noted, Lexus only provides its RX with one conventional powertrain choice, and despite once being wholly original in offering mid-size luxury SUV buyers the sole hybrid-electric available, it can now only take credit for being first. Still, no one can argue against the success Lexus has had with this comparatively simple powertrain lineup, consisting of its ubiquitous 3.5-litre V6, and the nearly as well-proven electrified version of this dependable Toyota-sourced six-cylinder engine.

2019 Lexus RX 450h F Sport
The F Sport upgrade includes this attractive digital gauge cluster. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Despite what appear to be identical powertrains on paper, the conventional V6 used in Lexus’ RX 350 and RX 350 L produce different performance numbers, the regular wheelbase model outputting 295 horsepower and 268 lb-ft of torque and the long-wheelbase version making just 290 horsepower and 263 lb-ft of torque, while the RX 450h manages a slightly more potent internal combustion engine (ICE) and electric motor mix that nets 308 horsepower and 247 lb-ft of torque in both regular and extended body styles.

The biggest difference between these three powertrains can be seen in fuel economy, with the standard RX 350 good for a rating of 12.2 L/100km in the city, 9.0 on the highway and 10.8 combined, and the slightly modified engine in the RX 350 L managing 13.1 city, 9.4 highway and 11.1 combined. The lighter weight regular wheelbase model is thriftier when comparing the RX 450h and RX 450h L too, with the former achieving the best model’s rating at just 7.5 L/100km city, 8.4 highway and 7.9 combined, and the latter doing extremely well amongst three-row luxury SUVs with a claimed 8.1, 8.4 and 8.1 respectively.

2019 Lexus RX 350 L
The infotainment display is superb, and comes packed with features. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

The extra power provided by the motive battery, which like other all-wheel drive hybrids uses its ICE to power the front wheels and electric motor to twist the rims in back, doesn’t give the hybrid any more oomph off the line yet certainly helps it keep up despite its 160-kilo increase in curb weight. The efficiency of the hybrid’s continuously variable transmission may assist with its straight-line performance, but the eight-speed automatic in the conventionally powered RX is probably not all that more taxing and its more positive shift response makes for a sportier driving experience overall.

2019 Lexus RX 350 L
The joystick-like infotainment controller is the RX’ weakest asset, but it gets replaced for 2020. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Enhancing engagement with both drivetrains in F Sport trim are standard paddle shifters as already noted, while this performance-oriented upgrade also gets an edgier Sport+ setting added to the base RX’ Normal, Sport, and Eco Drive Mode Select choices, plus hybrids benefit from an EV mode. The EV mode only works at very slow parking lot speeds, but it can reduce consumption while circling the mall parking lot or when stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, while at the other end of the performance spectrum I didn’t feel much difference when switching from Sport to Sport+, other a firmer setting from the adaptive variable air suspension.

2019 Lexus RX 350 L
Look at the gorgeous pinstriped hardwood in the RX 350 L. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Speaking of the chassis, the RX’ fully independent MacPherson strut front and double-wishbone rear suspension setup feels a bit tauter in the F Sport than with more comfort-focused trims, while the long-wheelbase RX L felt comfortable without giving much up in the handling department, or for that matter straight-line performance (it only weighs an additional 105 kg). As mentioned earlier, all RX models provide comfort first and foremost, which is exactly what most buyers in this class want, while noise, vibration and harshness levels are kept to a minimum thanks to a wonderfully tight, rigid body structure, plenty of sound insulation, and nicely refined powertrains.

2019 Lexus RX 350 F Sport
The RX F Sport gets a sportier set of front seats, albeit only two-way powered lumbar. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

All the soft-touch composite surfaces and leather help to keep things quiet, although to be clear the RX doesn’t quite deliver the same level of over-the-top luxury as its German peers, let alone the lonely Swede in this segment. Most everything above the waist is made from the types of high quality pliable plastics expected in this class, including the glove box lid, with some surface treatments higher on the dash stitched and leather-like with padding below, but the harder composites start just above the driver’s knees and surprisingly to the left side of the steering column, not to mention on the lower door panels and lower sides of the lower centre console (the console’s top edges finished in stitched leatherette).

2019 Lexus RX 350 L
A panoramic sunroof is always appreciated. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

The two F Sport trims received attractive metallic accents across the dash, lower console and upper door panels, although I must admit I was even more impressed by the long-wheelbase model’s gorgeous hardwood inlays. While high-gloss dark hardwood in Japanese tradition, every half inch or so Lexus had laminated in wafer thin pieces of lighter hardwood resulting in an ultimately rich double pinstripe look that was best seen on the console. There’s plenty of brushed metal trim throughout the cabin, with some bits looking and feeling like the real deal and other pieces less so, but quality is generally good including each button, knob, toggle and rocker switch.

2019 Lexus RX 350 L
Our three-row RX 350 L came with captain’s chairs in place of the second-row bench. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

At first glance all three RX models seemed to have similarly sporty seats, this probably due to their contrast stitched black perforated leather, but the F Sport models had a bit more side bolstering, particularly up by the shoulders, and while they all looked good and were generally comfortable, only the 350 L with its Executive package included four-way lumbar support. Its 10-way powered front seats were excellent, causing zero complaints, but if the two-way powered lumbar in the other two hadn’t luckily met up with the small of my back I would’ve been grumbling. Don’t get me wrong, as I would’ve liked extendable cushions and adjustable side bolsters too, while some sort of massage function would also be nice, but such pampering is obviously not the RX’ mission.

2019 Lexus RX 350 L
The second row folds out of the way easily for good third-row access. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Roominess has always been an RX strongpoint, with front and second-row seating for any size or shape with space to spare, but the new long-wheelbase model doesn’t quite measure up to most rivals when it comes to the third row. This is surprising, as a three-row crossover has been long in the making for Lexus, but even my teenage-sized five-foot-eight frame had difficulty getting comfortable. Climbing in and out is easy enough thanks to a second row that slides far enough forward for a nice, wide opening, but even after sliding that second row as far forward as I’d be comfortable with if seated there, there still wasn’t enough room for my knees when seated in the very back, while my head was rubbing up against the ceiling.

2019 Lexus RX 350 L
Access to the third row is good, but it’s best used for kids only. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

The extended-wheelbase RX L does add 77 litres of maximum cargo space, however, moving the total from 1,657 litres up to 1,580 litres, but the final row must add some height to the RX L’s cargo floor because available room behind its second row shrinks by 43 litres from 694 to 651 litres. With all seats upright the three-row RX leaves a 212-litre sliver of usable space, but it’s good for a couple of small suitcases or a golf bag if you want to work on your “A” game after dropping the kids at school.

2019 Lexus RX 350 F Sport
A centre pass-through for the second row makes the RX very flexible for passengers and cargo. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

While most of this is positive, operating the RX’ current joystick-style infotainment controller will set you back to the early days of playing Nintendo “Golf” (that was 1984 if you care to remember), hence why it’s being replaced by Lexus’ newer touchpad control for 2020. The system is functional and thanks to side entry buttons added a number of years ago is easier to use, but it feels old and clunky in a world of touch sensitivity. It includes haptic feedback to lock in prompts, which helped somewhat, but few should lament its loss. The high-definition widescreen atop the dash that displays everything is superb, mind you, and it’s hard to fault the overall functionality of the system and features, other than its lack of Android Auto for 2019 (remember, the RX gets it for 2020).

2019 Lexus RX 350 L
The long-wheelbase RX L is most accommodating for cargo with all seats lowered. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Now that I’m talking digital interfaces, both 2019 and 2020 LX models use the same ho-hum gauge cluster in non-F Sport trims. It’s a basic analogue set consisting of two primary dials and two sub-dials, centered by a tall colour multi-information display that’s little more than a glorified trip computer. In a vehicle that’s edgy and modern in most other ways the gauges look a bit tired and dated, especially considering some RX rivals are shipping with standard digital instrument clusters or at least offer them optionally in upper trims. Of course Lexus does the same, but take note my long-wheel base Executive package enhanced RX 350 L was priced higher than the RX 350 F Sport, but didn’t get the fancier LFA-inspired digital gauge cluster, and even the upgraded version doesn’t offer the level of features provided by its competition, such as the ability to transform most of the cluster into one big map.

Thanks to the incredibly fast pace of the auto industry these days, especially when it comes to digital interfaces, it’s always easy to find fault with a vehicle that’s been on the market for a few years. Such is the case for these three RX models, and therefore the updates Lexus will provide for 2020 should appease most of those looking for progress. In summary, I don’t believe the RX is the best mid-size crossover on the market, but it covers so many bases so well, and does so with such impressive dependability, that it fully deserves its number one status.