mReview: 2023 Lexus RX 350h - A Worthy Luxury Flagship

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Since Toyota separated the Harrier and RX lineages, the Japanese automaker has had to create a greater differentiating factor to persuade consumers to purchase an RX over its mass-market Toyota counterpart.

And that is no mean feat. I drove the current Harrier when it was first launched some years ago, and it is one mightily impressive car that can pose a legitimate challenge to some lesser premium-badged models.

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As such, the RX had to be a significant step up for it to even make any logical sense for consumers. Thankfully, Lexus appears to have met that objective, and I'll explain why in the coming paragraphs.

Elegant Exterior

The biggest "upgrade" (if you even want to call it that) is with the way the RX350h looks. There's a marked increase in its road presence (over its lesser Harrier cousin), a result of the enlarged, but now better integrated, spindle grille up front. Whilst the general surfacing is fairly soft, the overall shape of the front end is butch and almost monolithic, creating a product that looks truly premium.

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Creases, swooping swage lines and the continued use of smooth surfacing throughout the car helps create a car that straddles the fine line between an-almost Nordic sense of simplicity and sophistication.

Round the back, the lines are distinctly more Japanese, again with swooping organic shapes, patterns in the rear light clusters that resemble a bird’s wings and even a chrome rear bumper finisher piece, which works surprisingly well to tie the overall design together.

Luxurious Cabin

There’s no doubt that the RX 350h is a premium vehicle, especially on the inside. The build quality, as well as the materials, all feel of extremely high quality. Luxury isn’t all about the way something is constructed - its design plays a major role in creating that impression too.

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Lexus has got that base covered too, with a double layered dashboard, plenty of contrast pieces. I also really like the integration of its 14 inch infotainment system, which forms part of the assembly that also houses the digital cluster, but yet works well with the rest of the cabin.

The seats are incredibly comfortable, and are powered for both front occupants. Bar the middle seat in the second row, all occupants get to enjoy ventilated seats. You’ll have no problem making room in the car, as space is in no short supply, and the panoramic glass roof helps to make the car feel even airier. If luxury is defined by space and light, then the RX 350h’s interior most definitely fits that bill!

The Driving Experience

As this isn’t a F-badged Lexus, you wouldn’t expect it to be much of a driver’s car. And whilst it still feels decently agile on the move, you really wouldn’t call it engaging to drive. It does an excellent job in insulating you from the outside world, with a direct but light steering wheel.

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The suspension was also never troubled at any point of my press drive, soaking up any imperfections and bumps with ease. Overall, it is refined on the go, but only if you resist the urge to bury your foot in the accelerator at every opportunity.

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At lower speeds, the electric motor has sufficient torque to pull you along without emitting any noise. Gradual acceleration also isn’t a problem, as the car is still fairly quiet. However, it is when you really want the car to move that you start hearing the dreaded CVT drone. Whilst it certainly doesn’t lack any punch, the transmission lulls you into believing that the car is struggling for acceleration (it certainly isn’t). If there’s one thing I could change, I’d swap the CVT for either a DCT or a traditional torque converter gearbox.

A Worthy Lexus SUV Flagship

All things considered, the RX 350h is a capable, efficient and luxurious vehicle perfectly suited for a family of five. It is built for the professional that eschews convention, and would like to own a premium SUV that isn’t from one of the German brands.

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It is well equipped, extremely plush and offers up plenty of space on the inside. The only major downside is that way it drives, though in all honesty that really shouldn’t be a big issue for SUV buyers in this part of the car buying bracket, as a sporty drive probably isn’t that high on their priority list in the first place!

Lexus RX 350h Hybrid 2.5 Luxury Specifications
Price: $453,800  VES Band: A1
2.4 litre
247 bhp, 239 Nm
Driven Wheels:
17.8 km/L
7.9 s
Top Speed:
200 km/h
Fuel Tank Capacity:
4,890 mm x 1,920 mm x 1,695 mm
2,850 mm
Cargo Capacity:
612 L

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