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The $70,000 Penny: The 2023 Lexus RX 500h

2023 Lexus RX 500h front 3/4 view

Lexus listens.

Whatever your overall opinion of Toyota's luxury division, consider this:

We complained about the restrained-to-the-point-of-invisibility styling of their products in the late 90s and early 2000s.

We complained about the anesthesia-mimicking smoothness of their cars---sensory deprivation, whipped cream in the shock absorbers. Now, most of their vehicles---including our tester---have F SPORT handling packages available.

And we have been telling everyone who'll listen that most manufacturers' car colors were boring. White, gray, silver, black, maybe red.

Lexus definitely listened here.

2023 Lexus RX 500h rear 3/4 view

Say hi to the new-generation Lexus RX, in this case the hybrid RX 500h F SPORT, in Copper Crest paint---a color that, up until introduction day for the '23 Lexuses, you could only achieve with a wrap.

I'll be honest---I like it. Also, it doesn't quite look the same in a photograph as it does in person, and it looks a bit different through the day as the light hits it from different angles.

The fifth-generation RX 500h also represents a massive styling departure from the previous generation. Check out its fourth-generation counterpart---the 2022 RX 450h F SPORT I reviewed a year and a half ago (the 450 continues in a new role as the 450h+---a plug-in hybrid). The rounded shapes are gone---the new RX is chiseled, muscular.

2023 Lexus RX 500h front view

2023 Lexus RX 500h hybrid powerplant

The hybrid system, a 2.5-liter turbo four mated to an electric motor, adds some noticeable horsepower---366 to the 450h's 306. And that shaves roughly two full seconds off 0-60 sprints---knocking what was seven and a half seconds down to 5.5. There's a penalty in fuel economy---the 450's 30 mpg combined city/highway drops to 27 in the 500. But that's still a more than respectable number for this level of performance.

2023 Lexus RX 500h rear liftgate open

2023 Lexus RX 500h rear seat

2023 Lexus RX 500h front seats

2023 Lexus RX 500h front seat detail

2023 Lexus RX 500h instrument panel

Inside, it's the usual Lexus attention to detail, fit and finish. The old, and rather busy, instrument panel has been replaced by a new design with a much more seamless integration of the touchscreen, far fewer buttons and the banishment of the unloved trackpad.

Base price of the 2023 Lexus RX 500h F SPORT is $62,750 including destination. That includes Lexus' comprehensive suite of active safety features, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, in-car WiFi, a 12-speaker premium sound system, 21-inch alloy wheels, a power moonroof, heated and ventilated leather-trimmed front power seats, multi-zone climate control, ambient lighting, memory for the driver's seat, steering wheel and outer mirrors, a wireless charger and head-up display.

Because it's an F SPORT, it also has aluminum interior accents, opposed six-piston front brake calipers (painted black), an adaptive variable suspension, and dynamic rear steering.

2023 Lexus RX 500h steering wheel and instrument display

2023 Lexus RX 500h center console

2023 Lexus RX 500h center stack

Our tester also had some extra-cost options---a 120V AC inverter ($550), Digital Key ($275), a digital rearview mirror ($200), power rear seats ($550), heated and ventilated rear seats ($680), premium triple-beam LED headlamps ($1,565), a larger-than-standard panoramic moonroof ($500), an upgraded 14-inch touchscreen---the standard one is 9.8 inches---($1,105), a power rear door with kick sensor ($150), the aforementioned Copper Crest paint ($595), advanced parking assist ($250), a panoramic view monitor ($800), traffic jam assist ($620) a carpeted cargo mat ($150) and a rear bumper applique' ($90).

All told, the bottom line on the window sticker reads $70,830.

2023 Lexus RX 500h front view

2023 Lexus RX 500h side view

2023 Lexus RX 500h rear view

$70K is a big number---probably more psychological than anything, but frankly, most of the extra-cost options on that list are things I could live without---and at or near $65,000, the performance of the new Lexus RX 500h F SPORT starts to make a lot of sense.


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