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2023 Lexus RX revealed: New luxury SUV rival to Mercedes-Benz GLE and BMW X5 breaks cover with fresh style and more powerful engine line-up

The Lexus RX 500h is the new hero model for the range.

The fifth-generation Lexus RX has arrived and it could be the Japanese brand’s best chance yet to get the better of German giants Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

The out-going RX was the closest challenger to the Mercedes-Benz GLE and BMW X5 in 2021, and this new model arrives with fresh looks, more powerful and efficient engines and improved levels of refinement that should make it more appealing.

"The RX is a foundation of the Lexus brand both globally but also here in Australia ever since its local introduction in 2003," said John Pappas, Lexus Australia CEO.

"The all-new RX is the next step in the evolution of the Lexus brand as we move towards greater electrification of our range while adding to the Lexus Driving Signature of dynamic, enjoyable and faithful performance."

Local specifications and timing haven’t been confirmed, but it’s likely the new RX won’t hit Australian showrooms until 2023.

The new line-up is headed by a new hero model, the RX 500h, which is powered by the brand’s first turbocharged hybrid powertrain. It combines a 2.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder with an electric motor and the brand’s Direct4 all-wheel drive system from the all-electric RZ 450e.

Other powertrain options will include the RX 450h+ with a 2.5-litre four-cylinder plug-in hybrid, RX 350h with 2.5-litre four-cylinder conventional hybrid and the RX 350 with the 2.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder without hybrid help. The RX 500, 450h+ and 350 will all be all-wheel drive only, while the rest of the range will be either all- or front-wheel drive.

The new RX remains the same length as the out-going model, measuring 4890mm, but the wheelbase has been stretched by 60mm to improve interior space. The new model is also wider by 25mm with the front track 15mm wider and the rear increased by 45mm. It’s also lower than before, by 10mm, to give it noticeably different proportions.

Obviously a new model means a new look, and the most immediately noticeable element is the restyled grille. Lexus’ now-famous ‘spindle grille’ has evolved into what Lexus says is “a new expression called the spindle body”, which sees the bonnet merge into the grille more so than before.

Inside the new RX features what Lexus has dubbed the ‘Tazuna’ concept, which the brand explains is a “human-centred design philosophy where the driver is intuitively connected with the car to better concentrate on driving.”

Naturally the RX is also loaded with safety features including the Lexus Safety System+ (LSS+), which incorporates its Proactive Driving Assist (PDA). The latter provides “appropriate support according to driving situations and optimal control according to driver conditions, works in conjunction with the driver monitor to contribute to safer and more secure driving for customers,” according to the brand.

These systems include pre-collision safety, dynamic radar cruise control and lane departure alert. It also includes the ‘Abnormal driver condition response system’ which can gradually decelerate the RX and flash the hazard lights if it detects the driver is “significantly compromised” based on posture and steering inputs within the lane.

Full details of the new RX, including powertrains, pricing and timing will be announced later in 2022.