Lexus RX 450h+ (2023) review
The new Lexus RX is plug-in hybrid refinement at its best.
Dave Humphreys
Dave Humphreys

Published on September 10, 2022

With softer lines than its predecessor, lots of standard equipment and a healthy dose of Japanese Omotenashi, the fifth-generation Lexus RX makes an even stronger case for itself against the established German rivals. Its plug-in hybrid powertrain gets a useful battery range, too.

In the metal

An evolving design language sees the angular origami-like bodywork creases of recent Lexus models mellow and soften in this all-new generation RX, giving way to some curves. There are plenty of familiar RX styling cues, though, especially around the C-pillar, so it's more evolutionary than radically different.

The overall length remains the same as the car this replaces, but the new platform enabled the designers to stretch out the wheelbase by 60mm, to the benefit of interior space. A 15mm increase in track width on the front axle and 45mm on the rear should give a positive contribution to handling, as should the 15mm lowering of the car's centre of gravity.

The front grille - a key feature of all Lexus models - is still a spindle-like design, but blends into the surrounding bodywork in a way that ties in with the pure-electric Lexus RZ that comes on stream in 2023. Slimline LED headlights keep the family look as seen on the smaller NX SUV. All versions of the RX come on 21-inch wheels as standard, removing any obvious visual differences between specification grades.

In keeping with current design trends, the rear light units are linked by a slim light bar, above which is the Lexus wordmark instead of the badge. There won't be a seven-seat variant of the RX in this iteration and, with it having been designed from the outset to be a plug-in hybrid, there is no compromise in the boot space. Opening the electrically operated tailgate reveals a 612-litre volume.

Some cabin architecture and styling are shared with the smaller NX, such as the 14-inch touchscreen, which is one of the more impressive units in the segment in relation to clarity and responsiveness. Lexus has moved on from its previously dated infotainment systems, and the usual Android and Apple smartphone mirroring is present, though only CarPlay has wireless connectivity. The RX's broad centre console contains a myriad of connections for charging devices within its storage areas, too. Maintaining Lexus tradition, the centre armrest opens on either side.

Finding your preferred driving position isn't difficult thanks to the eight-way electrically adjustable front seat. Steering wheel reach and rake are adjusted silently and electrically in both planes. One of the more impressive aspects of the RX's interior is the quality of the materials. Lexus is renowned for producing interiors that are not only of high quality but also stand the test of time - and this latest RX should be no different.

Driving it

The RX 450h+ plug-in hybrid powertrain is a rather complex one that comprises a naturally aspirated 185hp 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, paired with a 134kW electric motor up front, with a 40kW electric motor on the rear axle contributing to a maximum system output of 309hp. The motor gets its energy from an 18.1kWh lithium-ion battery that resides in the floor of the car, but there is also a smaller NiMH battery behind the rear seats that handles the 'regular' hybrid driving modes.

Moving the game on from the previous standard hybrid, the new RX starts and continues its drive by drawing power only from the 18kWh battery. Once it goes through final homologation, Lexus expects it to deliver an electric range of up to 67 kilometres - slightly shorter than what the NX can manage from a similar battery size, mostly due to the weight difference.

For the most part, outright performance takes a back seat in the Lexus RX. A well-judged suspension setup combines with the seemingly rock-solid build quality inside and an electric motor to do much of the slower-speed driving, delivering a superb driving experience. Noise suppression in the cabin is among the absolute best in the segment.

In Premium grade, the higher of the two specifications available, the RX gains adaptive variable suspension that provides independent damping control at each wheel to better smooth out uneven surfaces. This setup also delivers a smoother response to surface changes and reduces body lean in corners. In electric mode, the suspension adds to the serenity.

But there will be plenty of times when your journey extends beyond the operating window of the battery. The combustion engine spools into life in a mostly hushed fashion so long as you aren't stomping on the accelerator pedal. It is, as you would hope from Lexus, super smooth, and in slower situations the engine is barely perceptible over whatever is playing on the 21-speaker Mark Levinson audio system.

Comfort is obviously the priority in the Lexus RX, but it does put in a good account of itself when you ask more of the chassis. With the Sport mode selected the ride is a touch firmer, though it's more about controlling the body than making you feel every pebble you roll over. Deploying a combination of combustion and electrical power means the RX will cover ground at a healthy clip though it's not what you'd call an engaging high-performance car.

What you get for your money

The RX is available in two trim levels: Luxury and Premium. Standard equipment on the RX 450h+ Premium, priced from €87,330, starts with 21-inch machine-faced alloy wheels, triple LED headlights with automatic high-beam function, a panoramic glass sunroof, roof rails and keyless entry. The interior includes a heated steering wheel and smooth leather upholstery with eight-way electrically adjustable front seats that are heated and ventilated. A triple-zone climate control system joins a 14-inch touchscreen display, 64-colour ambient lighting and the E-latch safety system that prevents the doors from being opened if a cyclist or car is detected approaching from the rear. Other assistance systems include front and rear parking sensors with cross traffic alert and a panoramic view monitor.

The Premium grade is an €8,370 upgrade that adds dark-grey alloy wheels (of the same size), quadruple LED headlights with adaptive high beam and adaptive variable suspension. The interior features 10-way adjustable front seats that are heated, ventilated and use semi-aniline leather. A heated leather and wood steering wheel is also included, while the rear outer seats gain both heat and ventilation functions. A 10-inch head-up display for the driver and 21-speaker Mark Levinson stereo are also standard items on this car. Nobody could accuse Lexus of not being generous with its specification.

Lexus does also produce an RX 350h model, which is a conventional hybrid, although this variant is not slated for sale in Ireland at this stage.


In keeping with its luxury SUV remit, the Lexus RX 450h+ puts comfort and refinement to the fore, delivering a package that is as enjoyable to drive as it is comfortable. As a genuine alternative to the usual rivals it stands out as a more considered choice.


Tech Specs

Model testedLexus RX 450h+ Premium
Irish pricingRX starts at €87,330; €95,700 as tested
Hybrid system2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, two electric motors with 18.1kWh battery pack
TransmissionCVT automatic, all-wheel drive
Body stylefive-door, five-seat SUV
CO2 emissions24-26g/km
Irish motor tax€140 per year
Electric rangec65km
Fuel economy256mpg (1.1 litres/100km)
0-100km/h6.5 seconds
Max power309hp
Boot space612 litres
Rivals to the RX 450h+ (2023)