2023 Lexus RX 500h F-Sport Performance

Lexus has rolled out a bunch of new innovative toys for the F-Sport Performance models.
Lexus has rolled out a bunch of new innovative toys for the F-Sport Performance models.

by Arthur Chiang | April 18, 2023


Lexus’ bestselling RX is back with an all-new fifth generation model. It’s available in a whopping 13 different grades including just the way we would want it, this 2023 RX 500h F Sport Performance. We spent a week with the brand’s newest F-Sport Performance model following the IS 500 to see if it has what it takes to continue being a bestseller and building the next generation luxury crossovers.

For the past 10 years, Lexus vehicles have been immediately recognizable by the signature spindle grill. With the new RX, the spindle grill has evolved in what they call the “spindle body”. The lower half still retains the mesh pattern, but the upper portion is now a seamless part of body work. With electric models incoming the need for an open grill for cooling is replaced by the need for a solid surface for aerodynamics so it makes sense for the spindle to take on this new appearance. We weren’t sure about this new direction at first but seeing it in the sheet metal has us convinced.

The new RX maintains its aggressive angular appearance from the previous generation especially in F-Sport trim, featuring the front grille, colour-keyed sport side rocker panels, and bold 21-inch alloy wheels. Also new for 2023 is the Copper Crest paint, which is certainly an attention grabber.

The interior is all new and packed with the latest in Lexus technology. The F-Sport Performance interior is sophisticated with black leather, Alcantara and Hadori aluminum trim throughout. The F-Sport seats are fantastic with good bolstering; Alcantara inserts and embossed F-Sport logos add an extra layer of luxury and function. The steering wheel has a nice chunky feel, with an F-Sport logo and metal paddles that have a satisfying weight and click to them. A 64-color customizable ambient lighting system sets the mood at night without being overbearing.

Lexus has rolled out a bunch of new innovative toys for the F-Sport Performance models which we found useful in day-to-day driving. There is the Advanced Park feature which allows you to select a parking space on the touchscreen and desired vehicle orientation before taking over and parking for you. The system was a breeze to use and proudly displays a panoramic view of the job when done. Then there is the advanced touch steering wheel, which is possibly the best use of a heads-up display yet. Controls are visually represented on the HUD when placing a finger over them allowing the driver to stay focused on the road ahead while making selections.

Lexus Safety System+ 3.0 is packed with active driver aids, another step closer to autonomous driving. With adaptive cruise control, traffic jam assist, and lane keep assist, the slog through rush hour traffic is much more relaxing. Given enough space the it will even change lanes for you with Lane Change Assist, by simply pressing the indicator stalk. The RX has a driver monitor camera to keep tabs on driver attention and fatigue, providing reminders and disabling active driver assists if attention wanes. We found all these features surprisingly easy to use and will be happy to see this technology trickle down through the entire lineup of Lexus vehicles.

While we miss seeing an analog clock in the dash, the 14-inch touchscreen in its place running Lexus’ latest infotainment system is a massive upgrade over the previous RX. Menus are attractive and intuitive to navigate. Although we would still prefer dedicated physical controls for all climate control functions, at least in the RX the controls are always on screen, eliminating the confusion from models like the new NX where they can disappear in certain menus.

The previous generation RX already had aggressive looks but for 2023 Lexus gives this SUV some real grunt to back it up. The 2.4-liter turbocharged inline-four with Lexus Hybrid Drive puts out a healthy 367 horsepower and 406 lb-ft. of torque. That’s over 100 horsepower more than the standard hybrid powertrain, and it pulls the family hauler from to 100km/hr in under six seconds. While not quite as stout as the iForce Max powerplant found in the new Toyota Tundra and Sequoia, this new RX 500h is no slouch. The icing on the cake is Lexus’ latest implementation of Active Sound Control which augments the engine with audio system trickery giving the driver that deep throaty growl of an engine note.

While the new performance is enjoyable, it wouldn’t make much sense in an RX hybrid if it wasn’t also fuel efficient. Rated at 8.7L/100km city, 8.4L/100km highway and 8.6L/100km combined it certainly sounds like it should be. In our week of real-world testing, we didn’t quite hit that mark but a fuel economy of 9.3L/100km is still impressive for the performance in a vehicle of this size.

The suspension on the RX 500h is the sportiest it’s ever been allowing for nimble handling and quick response to steering inputs. It’s compliant over the worst pavement conditions but the trade off is there is still some body roll under hard cornering. Perhaps the best surprise when it comes to vehicle dynamics is the brake pedal. The RX 500h has the best we can recall in recent memory, an especially impressive feat for a hybrid with regenerative brakes. The pedal is razor sharp with very little travel required making the brakes very easy to modulate for smooth and predictable stops.

The RX starts at $58,650, with a turbocharged inline-four equipped base model. There are two hybrid powertrains available, with the F-Sport Performance starting at $79,800. An additional $5,800 adds a 21 speaker Mark Levinson audio system, and all the latest Lexus gadgets like Advanced Park, Panoramic View Monitor, and Lane Change assist. The Copper Crest paint is an additional $650, bringing the total price here to $86,250. While pricing is up over the previous RX 450h, all the upgrades in power and technology of the RX 500h merit a bump in price. This is by far the most desirable RX yet. Our only real gripe is the 3,494-pound towing limit, though being a hybrid with unibody construction this is understandable.

For years Lexus’ F-Sport badge was more often than not an appearance package, adding very little actual performance. No longer with the 2023 Lexus RX 500h F-Sport Performance and the latest F-Sport Performance. First they dropped a big ol’ V8 into the IS sedan, and they have followed it up by beefing up the RX with meaningful engine, suspension and appearance upgrades. We love this new direction for the brand and can’t wait to see what’s next.

See Also:

2023 Acura MDX Type S Ultra

2023 Volvo XC90 Recharge Inscription

2023 GMC Yukon Denali Ultimate

Vehicle Specs
Midsize Luxury Crossover
Engine Size
2.4L turbocharged inline-four hybrid
Horsepower (at RPM)
367 at 6,000
Torque (lb-ft.)
406 at 2,000
Fuel Efficiency (L/100km, City/Highway/Combined)
Observed Fuel Efficiency (L/100km)
Cargo Capacity (in L)
Base Price (CAD)
As-Tested Price (CAD)
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About Arthur Chiang

Staff Writer

Arthur is a walking encyclopedia of cars and is a known go-to source for obscure JDM parts in Ontario. He’s an avid track junkie and has amassed a collection of rare Subarus and Hondas.

Current Toys: ’00 WRX STI S201, '03 Impreza TS Wagon, ’98 WRX STI Type R, ’05 S2000, ’72 H2 750, ’08 Ruckus