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2023 Lexus RX 450h + plug-in hybrid without main engine


The mid-size crossover Lexus RX is the mainstay of the Toyota luxury brand in the US and is the brand’s longtime best-selling model. This was the first Lexus with a hybrid powertrain — way back in 2005 — and each generation has evolved to preserve its qualities and keep it acceptable to buyers. seniors and their families.

The new one Lexus RX 2023 is the fifth generation of the luxury SUV line, which will start shipping later this year. It will launch with conventional and hybrid powertrains — including a performance-oriented RX 500h model with a Direct4 . hybrid system. But even further than that, another model will join the lineup next year: the plug-in RX hybrid.

Arrived on ‘a day later’

The Lexus RX 450h+, as the plug-in version is known, will be made available “at a later date,” the company said. It will be offered first in other markets with stronger emissions limits, including Europe. While Lexus’ US website still calls it 2023, no model year for the US version was offered at the media presentation of the new RX series held outside of Santa Barbara, California. So in reality bound by this supply chain, it could be 2024 if it launches late next year.

It will be the second plug-in hybrid for Lexus, after the smaller one Lexus NX 450h + launch in 2022. The two models not only share the same 2.5-liter inline 4-cylinder engine, but also share a 18.1 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. That makes the RX plug-in the only one to remove Toyota’s tried and true nickel metal hydride cells, which are used in all RX hybrid versions without the plug.

2023 Lexus RX 450+ plug-in hybrid (Euro-spec)

2023 Lexus RX 450+ plug-in hybrid (Euro-spec)

In addition to the engine and the two-motor hybrid powering the front wheels, the RX 450+ uses the 40 kW “E-Four” engine found in AWD hybrid models to provide all-wheel drive. time. Lexus declined to share power output or performance specifications, saying that information would also come later. The NX 450h + plug-in hybrid, its fastest model, is rated for a total of 302 hp.

I drove the pre-production European version of the RX 450h+. Lexus stressed that the vehicle did not conform to US specifications, saying that its components and some software did not reflect US production versions. (Indeed, the display temporarily froze on one screen until we turned the car on; the European door mirrors and the kilometer display underline this point.)

The company asked reporters to limit themselves to short driving laps, so everyone could have a chance in the single plug-in hybrid. We suspect that might be because its European charging socket means the car cannot be charged at charging stations in the US. Accordingly, the only way to charge the battery to prove electric mode is to run the car in rechargeable mode, using the gasoline engine as a generator – which can work, but is mostly inefficient.

Expensive, gentle, smooth, quiet

Over about 15 miles in the car, I have some early impressions of what the first plug-in RX will be like when it arrives in the US. -in the future. Our European RX test car included a wood-paneled steering wheel and video rearview mirror, features not available on the US models we’ve driven.

2023 Lexus RX 450+ plug-in hybrid (Euro-spec)

2023 Lexus RX 450+ plug-in hybrid (Euro-spec)

On the road, it’s no surprise that the RX 450h+ drives a lot like a larger, less agile version of the NX plug-in hybrid. It starts out as an electric-only vehicle and only switches into hybrid mode when the battery is depleted or, in certain cases, if the driver presses on the gas to deliver maximum power. Driving modes include “EV” (to the limit of the battery), “HV”, a hybrid and electric combination, and “Hold Charge”, which helps maintain battery charge.

Acceleration in electric mode is very good, and it is only when switching to hybrid mode that I realize how quiet the cabin is when running on battery only. The regenerative brake isn’t all that powerful in its default settings, although the paddles on the steering wheel can increase (left) or decrease (right) the amount of rebound. However, annoyingly, it resets to default level after every stop.

2023 Lexus RX 450h +

2023 Lexus RX 450h +

2023 Lexus RX 450+ plug-in hybrid (Euro-spec)

2023 Lexus RX 450+ plug-in hybrid (Euro-spec)

2023 Lexus RX 450h +

2023 Lexus RX 450h +

The smaller NX 450h+ is EPA-rated at 37 miles of electric range (compared to 42 miles for the Toyota RAV4 based on it). When the battery was 3/4 full, our Euro RX plug-in showed 31 km (19 mi) of remaining electric range. So we predict the EPA range rating of the larger RX plug-in with the same package will end up between 25 and 30 miles.

It’s worth it? Lower range could make the plug-in RX hybrid less useful than the smaller NX — or sought after Toyota RAV4 Prime—But it is a much more popular vehicle in the Lexus lineup. It will be Lexus’ first mid-size plug-in hybrid, competing with similar models from Audi, Hyundai, Kia and Volvo. We expect sticker prices of $60,000 or more. It’s up to you to judge whether the price is right – or whether a 300-mile battery-electric mid-size crossover might be a better choice.


Lexus has provided airfare, accommodation and meals so Green Car Reports can bring you this first driving report.



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