is the redesigned 2023 lexus rx a good suv? 5 things we like, 5 things we don’t

In the ever-changing automotive landscape, the Lexus RX has long remained a good choice for buyers in the market for a well-appointed luxury SUV, especially one that’s focused more on comfort than performance. Newly redesigned for 2023, that has changed at least somewhat: The RX 350 gets an all-new platform, a retuned suspension, more aggressive styling and changes under the hood.

Gone is the old base V-6 engine, replaced with a turbocharged four-cylinder promising similar acceleration and improved fuel economy. There’s even a new F Sport Performance trim, while other powertrain options include both a hybrid (available now) and a plug-in hybrid (on the way).

RX fans will be pleased to hear that some key attributes have not changed. The interior is still well equipped and luxurious and, if anything, is better than before. Loyalists also will be pleased to hear the quiet, comfortable ride remains.

We recently sampled a few examples of the 2023 RX in different trims and found some notable improvements — but some of the other changes are less welcome. For an in-depth look at the 2023 Lexus RX, tap the link above to read Joe Bruzek’s complete review. For a quicker peek, read on for five things we like about the 2023 Lexus RX and five things we do not.

Things We Like

2023 Lexus RX 350 | photo by Jonathan Earley

1. Available Hybrid Powertrain

With the V-6 no longer available, the available hybrid powertrain is now the sweet spot in the engine lineup. Combining a 2.5-liter gas engine with an electric motor for a system total of 246 horsepower, the hybrid feels notably more responsive than the base turbo four-cylinder — and is nearly as quick. Better still is an estimated improvement in combined fuel economy of 12 mpg compared to the base engine.

2. Interior Quality

The old RX’s interior was nice enough, but some materials didn’t match the quality of others. With the redesigned model, overall quality is more consistent, and everything you see and touch has an upscale feel. A nice detail in the new cabin is available suede door panel inserts, which create a unique look and are standard on upper trims.

3. Improved Suspension

A new platform helps make for a stiffer structure, which combines with a more sophisticated suspension to give the RX better bump absorption and control without sacrificing a compliant ride. Another benefit is a quieter cabin, with less highway road noise than before.

An available adjustable adaptive suspension lets drivers firm things up a bit, but the RX is still not one of the sportier entrants in the category.

2023 Lexus RX 350 | photo by Jonathan Earley

4. Goodbye Touchpad

The standard 9.8-inch touchscreen and available 14-inch touchscreen mark a big improvement over the old and dreaded console-mounted touchpad interface, making for a much more user-friendly experience. Both screen options offer high resolution, vivid colors, and frequently used climate and cabin controls are easy to see and use.

5. A View Below

Trick tech features include an under-car camera that works with the center touchscreen to display an image of what’s underneath the RX. Originally developed for off-road use, this feature can also be handy when parking in close quarters or in urban settings.

Things We Don’t Like

2023 Lexus RX 350 | photo by Jonathan Earley

1. Missing the V-6

We get the logic behind Lexus joining its competitors in going with a turbo four-cylinder engine in place of the old V-6 for better fuel economy. In this case, however, the switch takes away one of the nicest qualities about the RX, replacing a smooth, refined powertrain with a coarse-sounding turbo 2.4-liter four-cylinder. Worse: Power delivery is inconsistent, with noticeable acceleration lag.

2. High Cost of Saving Fuel

The new four-cylinder does save fuel compared to the old V-6 … but not all that much. A 2 mpg bump in combined fuel economy is not much to begin with, but the kicker is the new engine requires premium gas. With current fuel prices, that means the new engine may cost buyers more at the pump.

2023 Lexus RX 350 | photo by Jonathan Earley

3. Reduced Headspace

A longer wheelbase is said to make for a roomier cabin, but that might depend on who you ask — and how the RX is equipped. The redesign lowers overall height a bit; combined with an available panoramic moonroof, that can intrude on headroom for rear-seat passengers. Taller folks in back might find they have to recline the seatbacks to avoid making contact with the roof.

4. Convertible Controls

A new wrinkle we’re not so crazy about is steering wheel controls that aren’t labeled because they can be used for multiple functions if the vehicle is equipped with an available head-up display. Instead, the current function is displayed on the HUD, which is not easy to see in certain conditions.

5. Aggressive Driver Monitoring

The available driver monitor system is designed to make sure drivers stay alert and sound an alarm if it detects behavior that could indicate trouble. It’s a good idea, but we found the one in the RX to be overly aggressive, beeping and sounding alerts even when we were alert and paying attention.

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