2023 Lexus RX Review

2023 Lexus RX - Lexus RX a solid SUV.


Price: $64,395

Pros—Redesigned. New engine. Smooth ride. Lively. 4WD. Very well equipped.

Cons—Spongy brake pedal. Little steering feel. Very narrow running boards.

Bottom Line—Most popular Lexus gets more improvements.

Talk about longevity—the RX set the standards for luxury mid-size SUVs when introduced in 1998 and has been the most popular Lexus model since then. A few minutes in the revamped 2023 RX made me feel as if this is a great cruiser, with lots of style, practicality and lively performance.

I drove the 2023 RX 350 F Sport AWD, which is one of a variety of 2023 RX models. The Monroney label put its list price at $56,600, although its many options and a $1,150 freight charge brought the bottom line to $64,395.

There are three new powertrains. My test car had a 2.4-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine with 275 horsepower. It’s coupled to a quick, well-timed and smooth eight-speed automatic transmission.

Five adults fit in the church-quiet interior, although my test car’s optional ($725) running boards are just suitable for small children or adults with extra-small shoe sizes. All doors have fairly large storage pockets but aren’t lined, so smaller objects may rattle around in them.

The wheelbase is 2.4 inches longer at 112.2 inches for more rear roominess, but overall length is the same.

To open doors one need not yank a lever, inside or out; you just push a button in what looks like a conventional handle to gain entry or exit. The rear window wiper tucked under the spoiler shows good attention to detail.

Instrumentation in the revised upscale interior can be quickly read. The Sport’s nicely placed 14-inch touchscreen features an upgraded infotainment system with clean graphics and quick responsiveness.

This model has, among other items, aluminum pedals, Sport badges, bolstered sport seats, a sport-tuned adaptive variable suspension and 21-inch wheels, which look great and help handling. It benefits from the new Lexus global platform.

A thick-rim leather-covered steering wheel is easy to grip. Steering is responsive, but feels numb, with scant road feel. As for the brakes, the pedal is rather mushy.

My test SUV had an impressive 21-speaker sound system and standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

A driver can select Normal, Sport, Eco or Custom drive modes by using the touchscreen. Normal mode is fine for most driving, while Sport mode changes the steering feel for more agile driving, while sport-tuned adaptive variable suspension helps ensure performance and driving stability by simultaneously controlling the steering and suspension, transmission and engine for sportier driving.

Eco makes this RX feel a bit lazy but not overly so and more fuel-efficient. Custom mode allows preferred settings. Normal mode causes a bit of body sway when taking curves fast, but Sport mode eliminates it, while causing occupants to feel bumps more readily. Maneuvering in tight spots is fairly easy.

Sport mode stiffens the ride, but not uncomfortably so, and makes the RX 350 F Sport AWD more fun to drive. Eco gets you the best fuel economy but is something I found most useful in heavy traffic. I spent most tine in Normal mode.

The trunk has a rather high opening and isn’t the largest in its class. Electrically controlled (from the trunk) split rear setbacks fold forward and sit flat to provide lots more cargo room.

Last year’s V-6 is gone, replaced by a four-cylinder, which provides the same performance as the V-6 with better economy. Lexus smartly designed the engine to have lots of torque (317 pound/feet) at an often-used rev range for quicker throttle response. There’s plenty of zip for city driving and fast highway driving.

Also offered is a 246-horsepower hybrid with a CVT transmission or a turbocharged 366-horsepower hybrid called the RX 500h. This model is really over-the-top because the RX is mainly designed for comfort. A quiet, smooth ride, comfort, solid construction and luxury nameplate are what the well-mannered RX is all about. Not a 0-60 m.p.h. time.

The RX 350 F Sport AWD does 0-60 m.p.h. in 7.6 seconds, which is fine, although the RX 350 Sport AWD feels faster. Still, some of its many rivals are faster.

Estimated fuel economy with the 275-horsepower turbo engine is 21 miles per gallon in the city and 28 on highways. After all, this is no lightweight at 4,150-4,750 pounds. The RX 500h’s time in 5.5 seconds.

Here’s a rub: Premium (91-octane or higher) fuel is needed to fill the 17.8-gallon tank.

Front or all-wheel drive (AWD) is offered, and all come with a revised front end, which partly overcomes the overdone spindle grille which fronts most Lexus models. However, though some may feel the RX front end now looks bulky, the hood is nicely sculpted and a floating roof design and attractive rear end make the RX look rather sleek. I suppose Lexus may argue that the revised front end looks commanding.

There are 10 air bags and a long list of standard safety and convenience features—and some nifty optional ones. They include a $620 traffic jam assist that keeps you from bumping into the vehicle ahead below 25 m.p.h., an $800 360-degree camera system and a $150 power lift gate that lets you open the rear hatch by just putting a foot under the rear bumper while standing in the rain with your arms full of groceries. No matter what the weather, the AWD system should make a driver feel more secure.

Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

For more reviews from Dan, visit Facebook.