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Lexus RX 2023 review: 500h F Sport Performance

The Lexus RX500h F Sport Performance has a new look, engine and features. Is it a winning combo?

The Lexus RX500h F Sport Performance is the flagship model for the RX line-up.

It’s a deceptively large SUV and it has some serious heavy-hitting luxury rivals; like the BMW X5 xDrive45e and the Mercedes-Benz GLE450. The new RX has been revamped, restyled and retooled, so how does it compete?

Read on to see what’s new and what my little family of three thought of it!

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Price and features – Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

There are six models for the RX and the 500h Sport Performance completely replaces the previous 450h model as ‘top dog’.

As with most things, the purchase price has shifted upwards with a hearty $126,000 tag (before on-road costs). However, it’s still almost $10K more affordable than its nearest rival, with the X5 at $139,900 and the GLE at $135,200 (all before on-road costs).

Being a top model means you enjoy the perks of many features coming as standard, like electric front seats with lumbar support, heated and ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, panoramic sunroof and leather accented seats and trim.

The 500h Sport Performance wears a price tag of $126,000, before on-road costs. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The 500h Sport Performance wears a price tag of $126,000, before on-road costs. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

It even has real aluminium inserts for the accents and a new for 2023 digital rear-view mirror.

The only luxe factor that it doesn’t have, but should for a flagship model, are heated and ventilated outboard seats in the back row.

Other features include some decent tech, like wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto, three-zone climate control and a premium Mark Levinson sound system but more on that below.  

Our test vehicle features a panoramic sunroof and leather accented seats and trim. (Image: Glen Sullivan) Our test vehicle features a panoramic sunroof and leather accented seats and trim. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

Design – Is there anything interesting about its design?

The RX is a deceptively large SUV, at first glance the sporty tailoring might make you think it’s the smaller NX sibling but park it and you’ll see how it fills up a space!

It’s 4890mm long and 1920mm wide but the compact 1695mm height is what causes the misdirection.

Let’s get straight into some of the obvious design changes. The iconic ‘spindle’ grille design has been flattened at the top with a new body panel. It’s a design choice that makes the bonnet look more bulbous than sporty but that’s pretty much all I don’t like.  

  • The RX is a deceptively large SUV, measuring in at 4890mm in length. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The RX is a deceptively large SUV, measuring in at 4890mm in length. (Image: Glen Sullivan)
  • The iconic ‘spindle’ grille design has been flattened at the top with a new body panel. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The iconic ‘spindle’ grille design has been flattened at the top with a new body panel. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

It was a great choice to lift and level out the sloping of the bonnet because it looks a lot more purposeful now. There’s lots of sporty elements too with the black 21-inch alloy wheels and faux-mesh intake vents at the front and rear. Plus, I’ve always been a fan of the floating roof effect that’s created by the black panelling that shoots from the C-pillar to the rear.

It’s not just the exterior that’s been revamped. The interior now boasts a massive 14-inch touchscreen multimedia system, up from the 12.3-inch screen from the previous generation. The gear shifter is now an e-shifter and the dashboard has been ‘stepped’ to make it feel like you’re being tucked into the cockpit. There’s new ambient lighting inside too, designed to make the interior feel like a luxury lounge.

All round, they’ve nailed the ‘luxury’ aspect.

Upfront of the RX is a 14-inch touchscreen multimedia system. (Image: Glen Sullivan) Upfront of the RX is a 14-inch touchscreen multimedia system. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

Practicality – How practical is its space and tech inside?

Sometimes you can forget how many luxury items this car has because they've been sprinkled around too sparsely.

For example, front passengers definitely enjoy the most this car has to offer. The legroom and headroom are both great, while the luxe factors feature heavily with the heated and ventilated seats and heated steering wheel. It’s great that there is dual-climate control up front and ample individual storage on offer.

The driver has a lot of technology within easy reach – the 14-inch touchscreen multimedia system is simple to use and has built-in satellite navigation. You can pull the directions into the head-up display and there’s still a healthy mix of physical dials on display. The wireless Apple CarPlay was easy to connect to and there’s also wired Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity and digital radio (which was good in the city, terrible in regional areas).

The RX's front passengers definitely enjoy the most this car has to offer. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The RX's front passengers definitely enjoy the most this car has to offer. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

Front passengers are absolutely spoiled when it comes to charging options, too. You can choose between an USB-A port, three USB-C ports, 12-volt port and a wireless charging pad!

When I reviewed the smaller NX sibling, I struggled with the e-latch door handles but finally got used to them on this model (I even like them!). My six-year-old found them to be frustrating at times and if the groans from my family members are to be believed, they weren’t impressed either but I do think it came down to it being a ‘user’ issue!

The backseat is comfortable and perfect for my 168cm height but taller passengers may feel a little cosier. The seats are set in a stadium setting, which does make you feel like you’re teetering in corners but my son loved the high position.

Back seat passengers get retractable sun blinds. (Image: Glen Sullivan) Back seat passengers get retractable sun blinds. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

You can comfortably fit a couple of child seats back there but it might be a squeeze for three. The wide door apertures do make it easy to fit a child seat and to bend down to buckle them in.

Individual storage is limited to just map pockets, two cupholders and skinny drink bottle holders in the doors. The amenities never quite make it to luxurious either but I did like seeing two USB-C ports and retractable sun blinds.

The boot space is decently sized at 612L but the aperture is sloped, which means you might struggle to fit some bulky items. It has a level load space and it’s easy to access the temporary spare tyre. The powered tailgate with kick-function is super quick and handy too. 

The RX has a boot capacity of 612L. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The RX has a boot capacity of 612L. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

Under the bonnet – What are the key stats for its engine and transmission?

There is only one engine for the top model and that’s a 2.4-litre, four-cylinder turbo-petrol hybrid offering. It has a combined max power output of 273kW.

This replaces the old V6 hybrid engine from previous models but I found it to still be punchy. In fact, it’s claimed that you can do 0-100km/h in as little as 6.2 seconds.

It’s an all-wheel-drive and features a cool – eAxle … meaning the car is a bit clever with its power distribution using the electric motor to power the rear axle and the petrol engine to power the front. You can notice the gear changes with the six-speed auto transmission but overall, this combination delivers a solid performance.

Under the RX's bonnet is a 2.4-litre, four-cylinder turbo-petrol hybrid offering. (Image: Glen Sullivan) Under the RX's bonnet is a 2.4-litre, four-cylinder turbo-petrol hybrid offering. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

Efficiency – What is its fuel consumption? What is its driving range?

The official combined fuel figure is 6.5L/100km and that’s up by half a litre on the previous model. Real-world testing saw my figure at 8.3L, and I was disappointed with the efficiency. There are more efficient options out there that I would consider if the ‘hybrid’ part of the model’s name was what interested you.

With the 65L fuel tank and based off the official combined figure, you should be able to get a 1000km driving range … but based off my experience, I would expect a little less than that.

The RX's official combined fuel figure is 6.5L/100km. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The RX's official combined fuel figure is 6.5L/100km. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

Driving – What's it like to drive?

My first thought when I drove this was that it doesn’t drive like a big car. It has nice sporty handling – it feels firmly positioned on the road and the steering is responsive.

There’s a definite sense of power but it’s lazy. You have to get firm with the accelerator but it performs well when you push it.

There’s an interesting duality at play here because, despite this, it’s not sluggish - I’m just as confident on the open-road as I am zipping across traffic in this.

Large SUVs can sometimes feel daunting to park but not this one. (Image: Glen Sullivan) Large SUVs can sometimes feel daunting to park but not this one. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

The suspension is adaptive and feels springy. It handles cornering quite well but I’m not as firmly seated as I would like. My husband said the same from the passenger side.

The cabin is extremely quiet and peaceful until my kid gets into the car. Then it’s 20-questions in 20-seconds. But otherwise, the new active noise cancelling this model has, works.

I really love the 11m turning circle – parking this in a rat-warren car park was simple. The 360-degree view camera is easily in my top three for camera tech that I’ve used and I like how the car ‘disappears’ when you’re manoeuvring. It makes it easier to navigate a tight spot and not get distracted. Large SUVs can sometimes feel daunting to park but not this one.

Safety – What safety equipment is fitted? What is its safety rating?

The RX has a full suite of safety features that are always great to see on a large SUV, like: LED daytime running lights, lane keeping aid, lane departure alert, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, 360-degree view camera, front and rear parking sensors and dynamic parking guidance.

A cool highlight is the 'Safe Exit Assist' which will alert you via the dash if the car has sensed an oncoming obstacle when you go to exit the car. However, Lexus goes further and if the obstacle is still present and you try to open the door, the car will LOCK your door and stop you from exiting. Pretty neat!

There are ISOFIX child seat mounts on the outboard seats and three top-tether anchor points. (Image: Glen Sullivan) There are ISOFIX child seat mounts on the outboard seats and three top-tether anchor points. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

The autonomous emergency braking with forward collision warning has car, pedestrian and cyclist detection (operational from 5.0 – 80km/h and up to 180km/h for car detection).

It achieved a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating from testing done in 2022. However, this model used to have 10 airbags but now only has eight. I do like that it now has the front centre airbag.

There are ISOFIX child seat mounts on the outboard seats and three top-tether anchor points. You may get lucky with three skinny child seats but two will fit best. A 0-4 rearward facing child seat can be installed but will encroach on front passenger comfort, especially if they’re tall.

Ownership – What warranty is offered? What are its service intervals? What are its running costs?

The ownership terms have been improved too with the RX now coming with a five-year/unlimited km warranty term, which is more in line with the market standard.

It has a five-year/75,000km capped-price servicing plan and services cost $695, which is $100 more than the previous model. Even with the price hike, the servicing costs aren’t as expensive as others in the class. 

Servicing intervals are reasonable at every 12 months or 15,000km – whichever occurs first, which is good.

Lexus recommends a minimum of 95 RON petrol for this model.

The RX comes with a five-year/unlimited km warranty term. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The RX comes with a five-year/unlimited km warranty term. (Image: Glen Sullivan)


The Wrap

The Lexus RX500h F Sport Performance certainly gave a solid driving performance this week. I was comfortable behind the wheel and enjoyed the luxe features up front. I feel that it's missing some luxe items in the back seat and some of the family storage options that other large SUVs can have but otherwise, it suited my family’s needs. The fuel efficiency was quite surprising for a hybrid, so this gets a 7.0/10 from me.

My son really liked the panoramic roof and his high seating position. So, he gives this an 8.0/10.

Likes

Super clear 360-degree camera system
Sporty design is sexy
Nice tech throughout

Dislikes

Front passengers enjoy most luxe features
Not as efficient as I'd like for a hybrid
Door handle system takes getting used to

Scores

Emily:

3.5

The Kids:

4

$124,990 - $136,880

Based on 8 car listings in the last 6 months

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