The New RX: A Prescription for Lexus Crossovers

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

Those of you with checkered shirts in yer closet and a few pogs still kicking around may recall it was the original Lexus RX from the late ‘90s which arguably kicked off the “tall wagon” car-based luxury crossover craze. Sure, the first Ford Explorer put us all on a path to what we see in suburban driveways today, but it was the RX which placed them in the hands of moneyed types.

Lexus introduced a new RX yesterday near its home base in Texas, expanding the number of powertrains and (finally) dumping the ill-advised three-row model. And, oh yeah – we need to have a conversation about that grille.

Your author is not sure if Lexus took all the criticism about its so-called spindle grille to heart or if someone at the company simply tripped near the new model while holding a pot of white paint. The general shape of the old spindle grille remains, but the upper 25 per cent is now generally covered up and slathered with color-keyed paint. It’s like the time your spouse asked you to paint the living room walls and you accidentally painted right over a couple of electrical outlets, leaving a pair of vertical lines sticking out through the paint as if a porcine creature was trying to push its way through from the next room.

The lower portion of the grille – south of the pinched part of the spindle – remains black and features a textured design not unlike what’s on the schnoz of every Lexus in series production today. We’ll reserve judgement until we see it in person but this writer will say he is not adverse to color-matching trim on his vehicles (witness every pickup truck he’s ever owned for proof). And anyway, it’s not like Lexus cares what TTAC minions think; all that matters is the opinions of customer who vote with their wallets. In other words, we don’t think this new take on the spindle grille will hurt sales.

Built on a new GA-K platform, the RX has a 2.36-inch longer wheelbase and a rear overhang trimmed by exactly the same amount. Overall length does not change. The rear section of the platform features an all-new multi-link suspension design, attached to a rigid high-torsion rear body frame, plus a few other tricks which apparently increase rear-seat legroom. Note we didn’t say ‘second-row’ because Lexus has wisely ditched the RX’s optional third row in favor of an all-new three-row rig called the TX which will likely appear sooner rather than later.

There will be a choice of powertrains: A gasoline-powered 275 horsepower, 2.4-liter turbocharged four banger; a hybrid with a 246-horse, 2.5L inline-four making 33 mpg; plus a plug-in hybrid of undescribed size. They will be known as the 350, 350h, and 450h+ respectively. If one is looking for clues about the plug-in variant, we strongly suggest investigating what’s under the hood of the 302 hp NX 450h+ for clues. Topping the range will be a 500h F Sport, an all-wheel drive turbocharged hybrid which adds an ‘eAxle’ rear unit integrating an electric motor, inverter, and reduction gearbox with the other hybrid gubbins up front. It’s good for 367 horses and 406 lb-ft of torque.

Inside one will find the typical Lexus trappings, taking many cues from the comfortable and well-appointed NX. The largest infotainment screen will be 14 inches across and its user interface will surely be better than the Coleco-grade experience in today’s RX. We’ve sampled the new infotainment platform in a couple of Toyota/Lexus vehicles to date and can declare it light-years ahead of the old system. It can’t make its way across the lineup soon enough.

The 2023 RX is expected to go on sale at the end of 2022.

[Images: Lexus]

Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

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  • Mpalczew Mpalczew on Jun 02, 2022

    I bought the last generation 450h in 2021 as a 2022 model. I like the styling and the new one too, a modest improvement. 3 zone climate control, better power trains, better screen layout, wireless carplay. Interior looks nicer as well. Many nice modest improvements. For some reason no massage seats still, would have made it an easy upgrade for me. Every other manufacturer has these. My Mercedes from 2012 had these(it was also in the shop all the time, which is why I have a Lexus now). I remember when Toyota used to be reliable and technically advanced, e.g. (hybrids, 3.5v6 at time of introduction, etc).

  • Bd2 Bd2 on Jun 02, 2022

    The RX is proof that bad design doesn't necessarily prohibit sales.

  • Ronin The very asking of the question "Are Plug-In Hybrids the Future?" is an interesting one. Because just 2 or 3 years ago we'd be asking- no, asserting- that E cars are the future. We're no longer asking that question.
  • Peter Benn There apparently were some K-code 4-dr sedan Fairlanes. Collectible Automobile Apr 2024 has found a '63 500 with HD 3/spd.
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  • Rust-MyEnemy Whoa, what the hell is wrong with Jalop1991 and his condescension? It's as if he's employed by Big Plug-In or something."I've seen plenty of your types on the forums....."Dunno what that means, but I'm not dead keen on being regarded as "A type" by a complete stranger"" I'm guessing you've never actually calculated by hand the miles you've driven against the quantity of gas used--which is your actual miles per gallon."Guess again. Why the hell would you even say that? Yes, I worked it out. Fill-to-fill, based on gas station receipts. And it showed me that a Vauxhall Astra PHEV, starting out with a fully charged PHEV battery, in Hybrid mode, on my long (234-mile) daily motorway daily commute, never, over several months, ever matched or beat the economy of the regular hybrid Honda Civic that I ran for a similar amount of time (circa 5000 miles)."You don't use gasoline at all for 30-40 miles as you use exclusively battery power, then your vehicle is a pure hybrid. Over 234 miles, you will have used whatever gas the engine used for 200 of those miles."At least you're right on that. In hybrid mode, though, the Astra was using battery power when it wasn't at all appropriate. The petrol engine very rarely chimed in when battery power was on tap, and as a result, the EV-mode range quickly disappeared. The regular hybrid Civic, though, deployed its very small electric reserves (which are used up quickly but restore themselves promptly), much more wisely. Such as when on a trailing throttle or on a downward grade, or when in stop-start traffic. As a result, at the end of my 234 miles, the Civic had used less gas than the Astra. Moreover, I hadn't had to pay for the electricity in its battery.I look forward to you arguing that what actually happened isn't what actually happened, but I was there and you were not."Regardless, that you don't understand it appears not to have stopped you from pontificating on it. Please, do us all a favor--don't vote."You really are quite unpleasant, aren't you. But thanks for the advice.
  • Tassos Jong-iL Electric vehicles are mandated by 2020 in One Korea. We are ahead of the time.