Road Test Review – 2023 Lexus RX 500h AWD F Sport – Lexus Goes For Performance With This RX

The Lexus RX has been the ultimate jack of all trades for Lexus in the CUV segment. While the doomed RX 350L showed that there were limits to how far the RX could go in meeting certain segment needs, the CUV proved to be more than capable of meeting challenges when it was allowed to operate within its comfort zone. Lexus wanted to build on the core formula when it redesigned the RX for 2023 but it also wanted to inject more spice into the mix with the new 2023 Lexus RX 500h F Sport Performance model. But does the 500h have the ingredients needed to be a true all-round performance play?


500h F Sport Performance Accents Add Posh To Familiar RX Package

The exterior styling of the 500h doesn’t stray too far from the rest of the RX family and at first glance, you would be hard-pressed to spot any major differences with the 500h having the same basic design theme for its exterior styling including the revamped headlights, front spindle grille, and the reworked taillights. However the main difference here are the F Sport accents that are splashed onto this vehicle. The RX 500h is the second member of Lexus’s F Sport Performance sub-family of models and it shares that moniker with the IS 500.

As a result, not only does it get some exclusive performance touches (more on that later) but also an injection of aggression with our Copper-hued tester getting blacked-out accents for the exterior and special blacked-out wheels. We recommend the Copper color if you’re looking to make a styling statement but we’ll admit that Blue, White, and several other colors in the RX’s color roster also work well with the black accents as well.

This also extends into the interior which gets F-Sport grade seats for better support and interior trim appointments exclusive to the 500h. One interesting quirk that we did notice with our tester is that all 500h models don’t get the bigger 14.0-inch infotainment screen standard and instead make do with the smaller 9.8-inch unit. The bigger screen can be added as an option, but we’re pretty confident that 500h buyers looking to buy the flagship RX with all the bells and whistles will not be very happy to hear they have to spend $1105 to add the bigger screen in. Here’s hoping that Lexus eventually corrects this and makes the 14-inch screen standard from the start.

That aside, the rest of the interior does a good job hitting all the benchmarks, with rear seat occupants having plenty of room to stretch out and relax while those same seats can be folded down to help improve cargo-hauling capability with our tester having the ability to swallow bulkier items of cargo (including a few items for my parents during its stay with us.)


500h’s Straightline Performance Balanced Out By Middling Handling

When you read the tale of the tape for the RX 500h F Sport Performance, the numbers it has would be impressive at first glance. All models use a 2.4-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder that’s paired with two electric motors to produce a combined system output of 366-hp. A nickel metal-hydride battery lives under the backseat and Lexus engineers shoehorned one of the electric motors in between the engine and the six-speed automatic while the second one powers the rear axle. That translates into impressive acceleration that also masks the flaws of both setups. The low-end punch from the electric motors hides the 2.4’s turbo lag while the gas engine’s abundant amount of low-end torque  unifies the driving experience.

As a result, the RX 500h is very eager to show its stuff when sprinting from stoplights and your friends will be very impressed with the amount of acceleration it has with the CUV making the dash to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds. Unfortunately, the 500h also ends up being a one-trick pony with the CUV flunking the rest of its performance vehicle school homework. This flavor of RX shares the same GA-K Platform that also sees duty in its lesser siblings and the Toyota Camry but handling here is pitiful with the SUV’s heft easily overwhelming the tires while the steering system feels like it’s going through a burnt bowl of porridge.

That’s a shame since rivals like the Acura MDX Type S do a far better job of blending straight-line acceleration with purposeful handling and don’t have their customers sacrifice so many other things to achieve good marks in one particular driving category. That said, the RX 500h prefers to go about things at its own pace and when the driver abides by its narrow limits, the CUV turns into a good urban commuter with the suspension delivering good amounts of comfort and the brakes delivering strong stops. The RX 500h is also reasonably fuel efficient with the EPA stating that the 500h can get 27/28/27 in city/freeway/combined driving. That’s more than a non-hybrid RX but is noticeably less than a 350h hybrid that has less performance but more MPG with that one getting 37/34/36 in the same categories.


Value Quotient

The bulk of the Lexus RX lineup has pricing that firmly places the CUV in the $50,000 range. The 500h is the second priciest of the bunch with a base model starting at $64,100. Our example arrived with some optional extras that saw the final price go up to just over $70,000. The only other RX that manages to outdo it in this regard is the RX 450h PHEV with a base model starting at $$70,580 with the price easily surpassing $80,000 when fully equipped.

The 2023 Lexus RX 500h F Sport Performance is a commendable first attempt by Lexus in the performance CUV market and its acceleration will always be a potent party trick for owners. However, the whole point of a performance vehicle is to be able to rely on the entire package for it to truly be successful and unfortunately, the 500h’s inability to raise the bar in other performance categories and some questionable equipment decisions by Lexus makes this flavor of RX a reluctant pass for us.


Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as

Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.

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