2023 Lexus RX450h+ Plug-In Hybrid Review: A Quick Spin in a Prototype


2023 Lexus RX450h+ Plug-In Hybrid Review: A Quick Spin in a Prototype

The magic number to get an electrified Lexus is 450. The NX450h+ plug-in hybrid, which we considered the best model in the NX series, arrived first. Then, we made our way to Spain to test-drive Lexus' completely electric SUV, the RZ450e. A popular RX model that is electric or plug-in hybrid is something we haven't seen yet. That will change, as the 2023 RX450h+ aims to improve upon the NX450h+'s awesomeness. We recently had a brief opportunity to drive a prototype.

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Not Electric, Except When It Is

The upcoming 2023 Lexus RX450h+ might be considered an electric SUV if driven responsibly. After the RX350, RX350h hybrid, and RX500h hybrid late in 2022, this fourth model of the new RX series debuts in 2023. The 2023 RX450h+ employs a variant of the NX450h+'s PHEV powertrain; in case you're wondering, the "+" denotes that it's a plug-in hybrid rather than just a hybrid. Final specs aren't yet available.

The RX450h+ has a lithium-ion battery pack with an energy storage capacity of 18.1 kWh and a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated I-4; the non-plug-in RX hybrids utilize a nickel-metal hydride battery. The RX will feature two motors if it takes the NX plug-example. in's If all of that seems a little difficult to comprehend, concentrate on the following instead: electric range of more over 30 kilometers. Given the smaller NX450h+'s amazing 37-mile range, that is what we are anticipating from the RX450h+. For instance, the 2022 Volvo XC90 T8 Recharge—the longer-range variant launched later in the model year—can go up to 36 miles on electricity, while the 2022 BMW X5 xDrive45e can travel up to 31 miles on electricity. Your experience using a plug-in device is only as nice as you make it, much like those opulent electric SUVs. If you can plug in at night after getting home from work, a significant portion of your daily driving will be electric.

On The Road

The RX450h+ has adequate acceleration when simply using electric power to pull you into traffic, but you'll need the complete hybrid system and its projected 300-ish horsepower to make any passes. It's fortunate that you can switch it from EV to hybrid mode by pressing a button. The 366-hp RX500h seemed more responsive than the plug-in, but we'll have to try both 2023 RX models to be sure.

Our main impression of this prototype, aside from the delightful silence of electric driving and the incredible flexibility of a plug-in, was a braking system that we hope is improved before we drive versions built to U.S. standards. The SUV stopped a touch more abruptly than we anticipated as the system switched from mechanical to regenerative braking during our brief time with the vehicle. This is a typical problem with certain hybrids, but it wasn't nearly as noticeable in the RX350h and RX500h.

The 2.5-liter engine that serves as the foundation of the RX450h+ powertrain's rough sound has previously been criticized, but it isn't a problem in this instance. When the engine of this electrified RX is truly running, it makes a distant sound that will make you not give it any thought. You may now relax in the redesigned cabin, which is equally as opulent as those in earlier RX models and has a responsive 14.0-inch touchscreen.

The Competition

As the most electrified model of the all-time best-selling Lexus marque, the RX450h+ shows promise. It's a crucial step, and we can't wait to find out more about it and test-drive future vehicles built to U.S. standards. For the time being, we believe the RX has the most potential to compete well with the somewhat bigger BMW X5 and Volvo XC90 models. These two SUVs will certainly be faster than the RX, but the RX will likely be more affordable than at least the Volvo, which begins at more than $70,000. We're convinced that the RX450h+ will have an MSRP of somewhere around $63K, especially given that the smaller NX450h+ begins just around $60,000 as well.

After taking an early prototype for a test drive, we're eager to get to know the electric RX450h+ better. With the RX500h already available, the RX plug-in, which should debut sometime in 2023, won't likely be the sportiest model in the range. The RX450h+ may make sense for those seeking for an electrified SUV with greater presence than the completely electric RZ can give, despite the braking feel at low speeds on our tester, which might yet be improved.

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