Our review of the new Lexus RX self-charging hybrid SUV

Our review of the new Lexus RX self-charging hybrid SUV

And if it were him, the first “real” Lexus in history? According to the files, this title indisputably belongs to the LS, released in 1992. But this huge sedan equipped with a good old V8 didn’t charm crowds outside of the United States.. If Lexus is seen today as the competitor of Audi, BMW and Mercedes it is thanks to the RX. Launched in 1997, this large SUV allowed the Japanese manufacturer to find its audience in Europe as well. Best-seller of the elegant Toyota label, it was above all the first hybrid SUV in history (2005). Result: 3.5 million models sold for just over a quarter of a century. Even in France, the RX is to date the most represented Lexus! However, this Japanese really wasn’t cut out for us. In any case, that’s what I tell myself when I settle aboard the fifth generation, 4.89 m long.

A more dynamic Lexus RX

The new Lexus RX 500h offers rear-wheel steering.© Lexus

However, from the first laps, “my” 500h reveals amazing maneuverability. And it is not for less, Lexus has equipped this top-of-the-range version with a well-known device: the steerable rear wheels, which turn up to 4 degrees in the opposite direction or in the same direction as the front wheels depending on the speed. In the interior of California, more sinuous than you think, the RX is not clumsy despite a wheelbase extended by 6 cm (2.85 m). Lower but also benefiting from wider tracks than the previous generation, this 2022 vintage holds its body roll well and takes turns with honors. There’s no need to pick up the pace too much aboard this beefy 2.2+ ton man, because while his front axle offers good grip, ends up understeering, calling the entire crew to order due to a sudden intervention of the ESP.

A new volunteer engine!

Although it is based on a new platform (GA-K), this RX fits better on the ride log. Especially since without controlled damping, comfort is still acceptable. It would be even better if we didn’t hit the bump stops on the big compressions or rebounds, but the compromise between tightness and smoothness isn’t bad. And we console ourselves with a new mechanical homologation, which we also owe to a brand new drive chain. Because for this 500h non-rechargeable hybrid, the only engine available in France in addition to the 450h+ rechargeable hybrid, Lexus has innovated.

The new Lexus RX 500h develops 371 hp.
The new Lexus RX 500h develops 371 hp.© Lexus

First, designing a 2.4 turbo derived from the 2.5 that the rest of the Toyota group’s hybrids equip. Supercharged, this 4-cylinder now responds immediately to requests from the right foot, aided by an electric motor. The set, which delivers 371 hp and 460 Nm of torque, provides a certain ease when overtaking… Especially since the traction is never lacking, thanks to the Direct4 all-wheel drive that electronically controls the torque between the two axles. On the consumption side, this engine is still reasonable since at the end of our trip, the on-board computer was reading 8.5 l/100 km. A good result if we take into account the course and our test pace, which is not always representative of real life.

And since a novelty never comes alone, this RX 500h also debuts a new 6-speed automatic transmission. If it sometimes lacks smoothness and speed when downshifting, it easily makes you forget about uncontrolled revs. and offers a level of comfort much higher than the usual transmission by CVT effect of the Japanese manufacturer.

Interior of the new Lexus RX 500h.
Interior of the new Lexus RX 500h.© Lexus

Silence and smoothness on board the Lexus RX

Something to enhance the tranquility that reigns on board the RX, which welcomes its occupants in the most beautiful way. Well soundproofed, the cabin is very well built and easy to navigate. As on board the new NX, with which the RX shares a dashboard, it is no longer necessary to decipher the multiple buttons. Now everything goes through the large 14-inch touch screen that is delivered as standard. Reactive and well thought out, this interface reduces submenus to a minimum so that functions are accessible in less than 3 clicks. Finally, let’s thank Lexus for maintaining interior temperature and radio volume adjustment through traditional dials.

conclusion

More dynamic than the previous generation without losing comfort, the new Lexus RX widens the gap especially on a mechanical level, helped by a new engine and a new transmission. It is also distinguished by an extremely cozy interior and improved ergonomics.. Like its price, which starts at €98,000 in this 500h version, which must be associated with the F Sport finish.


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