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Review – Lexus RX 500h F SPORT Performance

July 21, 2023

The luxury SUV segment

With the presentation of the RX 300, Lexus was early to the luxury SUV segment in 1998. The RX was an immediate success. In 2005, the RX 400h was the first luxury SUV with a hybrid powertrain. Since 1998, Lexus has sold more than 3.5 million RX models worldwide. So the Lexus RX is a success story. Now there is the Lexus RX 500h.

Fifth-generation Lexus RX

The fifth-generation Lexus RX is making quite a stir. First, because of its design. Indeed, the car looks particularly successful, thanks in part to a striking front end where the top almost seems to drip out over the rest of the nose. The so-called “spindle grille” – the hourglass shape – has been applied in a completely new way. The result is worth noting. The rest of this luxury SUV also has a fine stance. The rear in particular has characteristics of a coupe, even though the new Lexus RX is a full-fledged SUV.

Lexus RX rear end

Dimensions Lexus RX

The dimensions compared to the previous generation Lexus RX have increased slightly, with the exception of the roof height. That decreased by 10 mm to 1,710 mm. Length also still comes out at 4,890 mm. Differences do exist in breadth. This is now 1,920 mm (+25 mm). The wheelbase grew by 60 mm to 2,850 mm. In particular, the front track width (now 1,650 mm, +15 mm) and rear track width (1,675 mm, +50 mm) increased so that the car stands even better on its wheels. Whether it succeeded? The many thumbs up we receive from other road users along the way says it all. Or could it be because of this particular exterior color: Sonic Copper?

Lexus RX500h, we did NOT expect this! – REVIEW – AutoRAI TV

Interior Lexus RX 2023

The interior of the new Lexus RX then. This looks like a real Lexus again. This means that the Japanese use exquisite materials to finish all components. Very nice is the use of soft material next to the higher center console. Your knees experience more comfort as a result. This is different with other cars. Some pressure eyes all the buttons on the 14-inch HD touchscreen and on the digital instrument cluster. This will take some time to master everything for a while.

Steering wheel controls

We are less enthusiastic about the steering wheel controls. In fact, these are touch buttons where you get to see what you select in the head-up display. Operation of cruise control, for example, is through the head-up display. You use the push buttons on the steering wheel and see on the HUD what you select. We can imagine that some people do not like this because it feels like an extra action. What is nice is that you can choose from speed limiter, regular cruise control and adaptive cruise control. A word of advice: allow yourself some time to master the controls. It took us a little more time as well.

Changing driving modes via touchscreen

Things like changing driving modes and enabling or disabling driving assistance systems are all done through the touchscreen. These are sometimes a bit hidden, so you may have to search for the desired function along the way. Also, be sure to let the touchscreen start up properly before you leave. In fact, you have to accept some things (think terms and conditions) to use all the features. You can touch the check marks only when the car is stationary in P. On the road, it is not possible.

Of course, the Lexus RX is packed with the latest driver assistance systems, including things that are required by law. Before leaving, just turn off what you don’t want. That saves the necessary beeps and other warning tones while driving. Can’t Lexus do very much about it. The law requires new cars to do this.

Extra sporty Lexus RX 500h F SPORT Performance

So much for ministry. Otherwise, we can be very happy with the interior of the new Lexus RX, especially this extra sporty Lexus RX 500h F SPORT Performance. Because the seating position and adjustability of the steering column are fine. The steering wheel is also quite small. That gives a sporty vibe. The steering itself is a treat. Yep, you hear that right. So no woolly character? Absolutely not. This Lexus RX feels remarkably nimble. You throw it into a corner and it follows nicely. This is also due to fine rubber: Michelin Pilot Sport 4 SUV tires. Driving this RX 500h is a very fine affair, that is quickly apparent. Even the wheelman or woman will be delighted by this Lexus, guaranteed.

Lexus RX 500h F Sport Performance

Dynamic Rear Steering

How did Lexus pull off that trick? Thanks in part to the DIRECT4 system, an intelligent electronic control system that adjusts front and rear drive torque to all four wheels for optimal grip and stability. Drive to the rear wheels is provided by the rear e-Axle with a separate electric motor and inverter. Then there is Dynamic Rear Steering, which automatically adopts the best steering angle for the rear wheels depending on the speed and direction of the car. At low speeds, the wheels move against the front wheels for agile maneuvering, while at high speeds they rotate with the front axle, keeping the car stable. With Dynamic Rear Steering, the rear wheels have a turning angle of up to four degrees.

Serious hardware

Lexus further installs 400 mm front ventilated brake discs with aluminum calipers with six pistons that face each other instead of floating, as on other new RX models. This provides even more rigidity. With an enlarged pad surface, they give linear, direct and stable braking performance. And you feel that. The RX 500h also features Adaptive Variable Suspension as standard, with responsive, independent damping control for each wheel. One almost starts to wonder if we are not talking about a Lotus. Not so, we are really talking about the Lexus RX500h.

Powertrain Lexus RX 500h

With this top-of-the-line model, the main focus is on performance. The hybrid powertrain consists of a new 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, aided by an e-Axle electric motor for the rear axle and a six-speed automatic transmission. It is the most powerful RX to date, with a system output of 273 kW/371 hp and maximum torque of 550 Nm. This translates into 0-100 km/h acceleration in 6.2 seconds.

The new six-speed automatic transmission allows better utilization of the high torque of the turbo engine and electric motor. It is designed to avoid frequent shifting and offers the driver the option of manual operation with shift paddles behind the wheel. When you, the driver, press the gas pedal, the response is very immediate. It also makes an almost V8-like roar, even though you are really driving a four-cylinder.

Bipolar nickel-metal hydride battery

The RX 500h is the first Lexus model to use a bipolar nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery. This battery makes it possible to get twice as much power from a unit of the same size. The location of the battery under the rear seat contributes to a low center of gravity of the car and prevents loss of cabin or cargo space.

Design Lexus RX 500h F SPORT Line

The Lexus RX 500h F SPORT Line is easily identified by 21-inch alloy wheels with double spokes, wheel arch linings and sills in body color, piano black details, aerodynamic bumpers, F SPORT badges and an exclusive pattern for the grille. In the interior, we detect an F SPORT steering wheel, a different gearshift and F SPORT sill plates and an aluminum pedal set. The front sports seats are upholstered in leather with Ultrasuede cheeks.

Conclusion review Lexus RX 500h

The Lexus RX – especially this Lexus RX 500h F SPORT Line – is now making tongues wag on the editorial staff. It may be one of our new favorites in this segment. Its nimble character and potent powertrains put a smile on your face time and again. Room for improvement exists for the infotainment system controls and especially the steering wheel controls. That one is too cumbersome as far as we are concerned. You can get used to it, but it could be simpler. Nevertheless, we can heartily recommend this new Lexus RX, especially as an RX 500h. So is this variant really worth 45,000 euros more? Well, the top version is there for the real performance enthusiasts. It is up to you to decide how many euros you are willing to spend on that. Do go for a pop of color, the RX can have it.

Prices Lexus RX

The Lexus RX comes to the Netherlands starting at 84,995 euros as the RX 450h+, a plug-in hybrid. The RX 350h, a regular hybrid, starts at 92,995 euros in the Netherlands. This Lexus RX500h costs a minimum of 129,995 euros. The Sonic Copper color has an additional cost of 1,995 euros, as does the panoramic roof. So then you are quickly talking about 135,000 euros.

Lexus RX 500h F Sport Performance