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Lexus RX 2023: Australian release date, hybrid and turbo engines confirmed


Dramatic shift in buyer preferences towards hybrid engines push electrified powertrains to the forefront of Australia’s new RX line-up

Two of the three engines set to be offered on the 2023 Lexus RX in Australia will be petrol-electric hybrid powertrains, with the entry-level RX350h and flagship turbo-hybrid RX500h book-ending the non-hybrid RX350 option.

A staggering 65 percent of Australian sales for the incoming fifth-generation Lexus RX are predicted to be hybrid, with the remaining 35 percent of local customers believed to favour the petrol-only RX350.

2022 Lexus RX 450h SUV silver - static front 3/4 shot
The Lexus RX will launch in Australia in the first quarter of 2023

Due for release in Australia in the first quarter of 2023 – meaning between January and March – the new Lexus RX goes all-guns-blazing on hybrid, but Australian customers will initially miss out on the RX450h+ plug-in hybrid (PHEV) engine that is being directed first to markets with strict automotive CO2 emissions regulations.

That’s despite the fact Lexus recently launched its second-generation NX midsize SUV with the NX450h+ PHEV powertrain in Australia as part of the first batch of vehicles. Lexus Australia managing director John Pappas told Chasing Cars that the new RX450h+ PHEV would indeed come to Australia, saying that he hopes “to bring it in in 2023.”

2022 Lexus RX 450h SUV silver - interior front cabin
The RX cabin is built around an available 14.1-inch touchscreen and rich materials

Lexus will flip the engine structure of the outgoing fourth-gen RX, which offered Aussie customers the choice of a turbo-petrol four-cylinder RX300 in front-wheel drive (FWD) only, an all-wheel drive (AWD) V6 petrol RX350, or a V6 petrol-electric hybrid RX450.

Every engine for the incoming fifth-generation RX will be a four-cylinder. The entry-level RX350h will use the same 184kW/319Nm naturally-aspirated petrol-electric hybrid from the NX350h, with a choice of FWD or AWD. The RX350h makes use of an e-CVT transmission that employs either two or three motor-generators for a direct-drive transmission.

Lexus RX350h 2023 celestial blue driving-1
The Chasing Cars review of the new Lexus RX drops later this week

From there, buyers can step to the non-hybrid RX350, which uses Lexus’s recently-introduced 2.4-litre turbocharged petrol four-cylinder engine making 205kW/430Nm. This engine has mechanical AWD and an eight-speed torque converter automatic transmission.

New ground will be broken for the flagship RX powertrain, with the RX500h being the first-ever Lexus product to combine a turbocharged engine with an electric hybrid system. A new AWD hybrid system called Direct-4 has been developed around dual motors and a true six-speed direct-drive automatic transmission, with the RX500h developing 273kW/551Nm.

2022 Lexus RX 500h SUV blue - static rear 3/4 shot
The range will be crowned by the RX500h F Sport Performance, with 273kW of turbo-hybrid power

The RX500h is the first model to come to Australia from Lexus’s new ‘F Sport Performance’ tier. This tier stands for more performance, but also larger brakes, additional bracing and a firmer suspension tune – all of which are present in the RX500h. The only other F Sport Performance vehicle at present is the V8-powered IS500 sports sedan that is not sold in Australia.

Meanwhile, the late-arriving RX450h+ plug-in hybrid uses a more potent iteration of the RX350h naturally-aspirated hybrid powertrain, adding an 18.1kWh lithium-ion battery pack into the mix. This allows power to be increased to 230kW, while the RX450h+ PHEV will afford an electric-only driving range of around 60km, Lexus indicates.

2022 Lexus RX 450h SUV silver - dynamic front 3/4 shot
Only the five-seat RX will return, with seven-seat duties to be handed to an unannounced model

Pricing and trim grades have not yet been announced for the fifth-generation Lexus RX in Australia, though Chasing Cars understands the vehicle will implement a similar range structure and positioning to the recently-upgraded NX midsize SUV.

That should see the 2023 RX return with Luxury, F Sport and Sports Luxury trims in Australia for the RX350h and RX350, while the RX500h will globally be sold only in F Sport Performance guise. If the RX450h+ PHEV follows the NX450h+, it will only be offered as an F Sport locally.