2023 Lexus RX350h
Silent Luxury or A Private Concert? Your call.
The Lexus RX350h delivers a quiet and smooth ride together with a plethora of tech and convenience features.
By J-F Wright
Fri, Apr 14, 2023 01:44 PM PST
images by the author.
My wife - who isn’t very interested in cars - is still a good person to talk to when it comes to the cars she inadvertently tests as a passenger, just by living together with me. After spending a couple of days in the RX her comment was simply “I want one of these”. Not just because it’s a very very nice car - who wouldn’t want a luxury vehicle? - she was smitten by the very smooth ride, quiet interior, and decent amount of space.
Mark Lewinson Sounds Ridiculously Good
Let’s start with the noise. A good noise, that is. We’ve driven other Lexus vehicles with the Mark Lewinson sound system, so whenever it’s listed on the specifications of a review article it adds an extra level of anticipation.
And, as usual, the Mark Lewinson sound system in the 2023 Lexus RX350h does an amazing job. With speakers all around you - a true surround sound setup - you’ll feel like you’re at the concert. The high notes, the low notes, and everything in-between will arrive to your ear sounding exactly as it was meant to. It really does feel like you’re sitting next to the bass player strumming along, and you can almost feel the piano player’s fingers making contact with the keys.
The Mark Lewinson system is only a part of the interior experience. The leather seats - a beautiful combination of leather and suede - are amazingly comfortable. Lexus delivers on not only a visually appealing interior, but a very easy to use and luxurious touch and feel to the entire interior. A special nod to the aesthetically well-integrated speakers in the suede leather towards to top of the door.
What About Them Door Handles?!
As with all new Lexus, they do have an interesting arrangement for the door handles - inside and out. It’s not a conventional door handle. The exterior handle features a button that releases the door and initiates a slight opening swing.
The interior is more akin to a button. Push it and the door itself - and it’ll graciously swing open. Actually more user-friendly, since conventional door handles have you pulling a handle towards you while moving the door in the opposite direction.
Seating Comfort - Leather Everywhere
This is a top-of-the-line Lexus - and that shows throughout. Pretty much the entire interior is wrapped in leather - plush, soft leather. The front two passengers sit very comfortably in Lexus signature seats - comfortable yet snug at the same time. The suede leather insets in the seats help keep you from gliding around, even during overly ambitious cornering techniques.
The rear seats in the RX are also fully wrapped in leather and are reported to be very comfortable as well. Three kids sitting abreast is not difficult at all and the two outer-most seats will definitely hold adult passengers for long roadtrips.
Like the front, the rear doors also have the interesting new door-handles and feature the Mark Lewinson speakers surrounded by beautiful suede leather.
Trunk & Hauling Space
The trunk space of the RX is middle-sized - it’ll do well for any Costco run, hauling your gear or your children’s gear around town. However, it’s not big enough to handle a trip to Home Depot if you’re going shopping for large tools and/or construction supplies or materials. But then again, who would do that in a Lexus?
The rear two seats are easily folded flat to give extra space. Now the RX does have a large flat area, capable of pretty much handling anything you can throw at it - or in it. Interestingly, the buttons to control the lowering and raising of the rear seats is located on the side of the seat itself. It’s electric, so it’s very easy to adjust from seating to hauling.
Interior Silence - Crickets Abound
The 2023 Lexus RX350h is insanely quiet - especially in electric mode (obviously). Coupled with the very refined and smooth ride, a passenger might not know they’re moving if they keep their eyes closed.
When the engine kicks in you can hear it, but that’s probably just because you’re used to not hearing anything. Even with the engine running, though, this is a very quiet car - on freeways, highways, as well as during city driving.
Adjustable Rearview Mirror-Camera
The interior rearview mirror can be used as a conventional mirror or hooked to a camera located at the top of the rear window. The camera-version of the rearview mirror is, interestingly, adjustable. You can adjust the camera up/down and well as right/left, configuring your view of what’s behind you kinda like you would a conventional mirror.
Obviously this is something you wouldn’t change for every drive - much like you don’t adjust the conventional rearview mirror for each particular drive (unless someone has messed it up) - but the ability to do it is a nice touch - and an appreciated convenience.
Power & Handling
This is a Lexus - something that is definitely noticeable in the handling and comfortable ride afforded. More akin to floating on clouds - bumps on the road are pretty much eaten up by the suspension system - the Lexus RX350h will have you arriving as refreshed as possible.
The electric propulsion works really well in tandem with the combustion power-plant. From a standstill you’ll have instant electric power that’ll then be helped on by the engine as soon as it’s needed.
The RX350h is a relatively large vehicle, so I’m not expecting it to handle like a sports car. However, as a Lexus often does, the RX has a strong element of sporty driving characteristics.
Lexus has done a good job at finding at middle comfort zone - combining sportiness and aggressiveness together with comfort and convenience - resulting in a very smooth ride yet confidant drive.
Other Notable Features
The 2023 Lexus RX350h is full of technology - both for safety and convenience. So much, in fact, that it’s not possible to note everything without writing a full-on novel. But, if you’re wondering:
- The adaptive cruise control (radar) works wonders together with the active steering assist - keeping you in your lane and at a safe distance behind the car in front. It’ll even help you change lanes safely.
- Heated and cooled seats are awesome - always opt for them. The heated steering wheel as well.
- The full-size moonroof is an added bonus, especially when driving through cities - you can see the skyscrapers tower up on both sides of the car.
- The wood inlays look and feel great, and since they are of the porous type you get an extra hint of individuality - no piece will look the same.
Conclusion & Verdict
Our test vehicle - a RX350h with most of the available options installed - is a top-of-the-line mid-sized Lexus SUV - it’s hard not to like it. My wife wants one, as do our three kids. A plethora of safety and convenience features, coupled with a very quiet and smooth drive, make this a solid contender for anyone looking to purchase in the mid-size luxury SUV segment.
About The Author
John-Fredrik Wright was born in Sweden, but raised on both sides of the Atlantic. His experience in the automotive industry starts with a summer-job as a host at Volkswagen’s premier showroom in Stockholm. Later, he worked as an instructor at Swedish Active Driving, teaching safe driving (among other things the renowned "elk-avoidance maneuver") and advanced driving techniques.