The hybrid comes in threes
25 years of history and four generations that have sanctioned its global success: with 3.5 million units produced, the Lexus RX it is one of its most popular in the world, but the same cannot be said in Europe where it hasn’t made a breakthrough as in other markets. At least until now, because to win new customers, the fifth generation of the Lexus RX has changed from top to bottom: the dimensions have remained similar to the previous one – the length of 489 cm is unchanged and the height drops by two centimeters – but under the skin there is a completely new skeleton taken from the smaller NX. This has allowed the RX to save weight, but above all to offer more space for rear passengers thanks to an extra six centimeters of wheelbase. As per Lexus tradition, in Europe the engine range is made up exclusively of hybrid units, but there are significant innovations inside the bonnet as well: to the full hybrid we already know with naturally aspirated engine and continuously variable gearbox (Lexus RX 350h), are joined by two new versions, a hybrid on tap (RX 450h), the other, object of this test, the RX 500hequipped with a much more powerful turbocharged petrol engine and an electric rear drive for 371 hp of combined power. For all, the prices are those announced at the end of 2022 (read here to find out more) and range from 80,000 to 99,000 euros. The latter is the price list for the 500h F Sport+ of our test.
It has the “right” power
It is also in this case a non-rechargeable hybrid, but compared to the other two variants it benefits from a real six-speed automatic gearbox and decidedly livelier performance: the shot from 0 to 100 km/h is covered in 6.2 seconds. The rear electric unit alone delivers 103 HP and coordinates with the internal combustion engine and the other front electric motor, through what Lexus calls the “Direct 4”: a all-wheel drive system without physical connections between the front and rear axles, and which uses a sophisticated electronic “brain” to establish instant by instant how much torque to deliver to the two engines according to need. Three o’clock driving mode selectable, Comfort, Eco and Sport: the latter keeps the petrol engine running at all times and increases the system’s responsiveness to accelerator inputs. The six-speed automatic transmission is fluid and can also be used in manual mode using the special paddles behind the steering wheel.
A relaxing travel companion
This version of the Lexus RX it is also suitable for a spirited drive, but still remains far from the most dynamic SUVs in the segment. The Japanese prefers driving comfort above all, and the steering and set-up calibration reflects this philosophy. The electronically controlled shock absorbers are never excessively stiff even in Sport mode: the set-up instills safety on fast motorway bends, but does not make you want to push through the bends, while the steering, light but precisefilter everything that is happening under the wheels. Excellent soundproofing of the passenger compartment from external noises even at sustained speeds, while, accelerating decisively, the voice (not very exciting) of the four-cylinder makes itself heard. Merit mention then it goes to the non-invasive driving assistance systems, which are very effective both in detecting dangers and in making long journeys even more comfortable. This also applies to assisted braking which, even without activating adaptive cruise control, gently slows the car when approaching a slower-moving vehicle.
Lots of quality, as per tradition
A significant step forward, the Lexus RXalso accomplished it in terms of design, distinctive, but now much “cleaner” and more elegant. The large hourglass grille is better integrated into the front of the car thanks to a particular aesthetic effect of the bumper which seems to merge with the grille itself. The elongated line of the bonnet points decisively downwards, giving the bodywork more dynamism, while at the rear the lights are integrated into a single LED bar that runs from one side of the car to the other. The interior design was also inspired by the same philosophy: finishes and assemblies are of high quality with soft upholstery for the dashboard and doors. The leather seats of this F-Sport trim level are refined and truly comfortable, embellished by the combination of leather and Alcantara, a material also used for some door panel inserts. The only comment goes to the pockets of the doors without anti-noise coating.
High-tech without excesses
The technology sector of Lexus RX has been completely revised, drawing on the innovations introduced by the Lexus NX and RZ. At the center of the dashboard, the multimedia system is all new: it has a 14” touchscreen, is very defined and responsive to the touch and is complete with connections to smartphones via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, integrated internet connection and navigator. The layout of the menus is simple, however it is not always easy to find the desired functions and settings and it is not possible to use two applications at the same time by exploiting the generous diagonal of the display. A “full” of technology which, fortunately, has not completely deprived the RX of the physical keys that remain for the most important functions such as adjusting the temperature or volume of the radio. Behind the competition is the digital dashboard: the graphics are clear but the resolution is low and the customization options are few.
The passenger compartment is large, the trunk a little less
Comfortable and spacious, the Lexus RX offers much comfort to all passengers: the comfortable front seats are complete with electric adjustments, memories, heating and ventilation (but the excursion of the seat and that of the backrest are not the widest). Behind, even those who are 1 meter and 90 cm tall sit comfortably and even the sofa is heated and ventilated. The trunk it offers 461 liters of capacity: it is not the most capacious in its category, but we appreciate the regular shape and the absence of steps between the floor and the loading sill. Really practical, then, the possibility of reclining the backrests electrically with just the pressure of a button on the right side of the trunk.
It doesn’t come cheap
The new Lexus RX it will arrive at dealerships in March with a starting price of 80,000 euros for the full hybrid RX 350h with 250 horsepower. For the RX 450h plug-in hybrid variant it takes at least 89,000 euros, while the more powerful tested version (RX 500h) is offered only in the rich F-Sport sports set-up price of 99,000 euros. The price list of the new Lexus RX is important, justified by a truly complete range of comfort and safety, but which increases and not a little compared to the past generation (which started at 76,000 euros with a more powerful entry-level engine), and which compares directly to popular German alternatives such as the Mercedes GLE or BMW X5.
In our opinion
> Cockpit. Modern and well finished, it does not completely give up the physical keys for the most important functions. Lots of space.
> Adas. Well calibrated and standard on all versions, they not only come in handy in dangerous situations, but make driving more relaxing.
> Comfort. You travel in relaxation, both in the city and on the motorway where the RX is silent and instills confidence.
> Trunk. 461 liters are few for this segment: the load capacity is limited compared to its rivals.
> Digital dashboard. Small and not very configurable: it is not up to the competition
> Seat adjustments. For taller people, the seat height extension may not be sufficient.
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Lexus RX: Fill up on style and technology
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