Lexus RX 500h: our performance SUV

RX 500h

Lexus introduced electrified technology in 2005, and with each successive generation, the benefits of this technology have incrementally improved. But while the focus on making cars cleaner and more efficient remains, the arrival of the new Lexus RX 500h demonstrates that we believe the time is right to offer an evolution of this technology that delivers a more exciting driving experience.

RX 500h
Lexus RX 500h F Sport Performance models can be identified by their dedicated 21-inch alloy wheels, body colour wheel arch trims and sills, piano black details, aero profile bumpers,
F Sport badging and exclusive grille mesh pattern

Detailed further below, the innovative hybrid powertrain at the heart of the RX 500h F Sport Performance consists of a new, turbocharged 2.4-litre petrol engine (see image below), front electric motor, six-speed automatic transmission, and a separate, high-output rear electric eAxle for precise all-wheel drive control.

RX 500h

RX 500h – new parallel hybrid architecture 

The Lexus RX 500h is equipped with an all-new hybrid powertrain. Unlike anything Lexus has ever produced before, it offers forced induction and a new parallel hybrid architecture. This means that while the familiar principle of self-charging remains the same, the front electric motor is now sandwiched between a turbocharged 2.4-litre engine (known internally as T24A-FTS) and a new six-speed automatic transmission. Clutches on either side of the electric motor allow it to work in conjunction with, or independently from, the petrol engine. It is a layout that delivers strong power delivery and retains the EV driving capability that has always been a characteristic of our full hybrid electric system.

The RX 500h is the most powerful model in its five-generation history, with a total power output of 366bhp and 550Nm torque. This translates into 0-62mph acceleration in 6.2 seconds – the kind of performance you might expect of a 3.0-litre V6 engine but with superior economy. In that respect, the RX 500h achieves 34 to 35.3mpg on the WLTP combined cycle.

RX 500h

A new, compact, six-speed automatic transmission has been introduced for the first time. It is employed instead of the eCVT system in other Lexus hybrid electric powertrains in order to better harness the higher levels of torque being produced by the turbo engine and motor. The transmission is programmed to capitalise on that torque and avoid frequent shifts, while offering the driver the option of instructing manual gear changes through paddle controls on the steering wheel. When the driver presses the throttle, response is instant with a powerful, linear increase in speed. 

The RX 500h is the first Lexus to use a bi-polar nickel-metal hydride battery (NiMH). This technology improves the battery’s load and unload capacity and allows 40% more cells to be accommodated, not to mention double the power output, within the same space as a traditional NiMH unit. The driver enjoys the benefit of stronger acceleration, while the battery is also quieter, thanks to refinement of its air-cooling system.

Inside, Lexus RX 500h F Sport Performance models can be identified by their F Sport steering wheel, shift lever, scuff plates and aluminium pedal set.
The sports front seats are also finished in leather with tactile Ultrasuede bolsters.

The RX 500h is also the first RX to adopt DIRECT4 all-wheel drive technology. This intelligent electronic control system constantly and seamlessly adjusts torque bias between the front and rear wheels to provide optimum grip and stability. Drive to the rear wheels is provided by the rear eAxle, which contains a separate electric motor and inverter to communicate a more connected feel between the road and the steering wheel.

Like the rest of the new RX range, the RX 500h is built on our GA-K platform, which gives the SUV a low centre of gravity, high body rigidity and a balanced chassis with good inertia characteristics. The performance focus continues with Dynamic Rear Steering, which automatically adjusts the angle of the rear wheels according to the car’s speed and direction – up to four degrees from the straight-ahead. At low speeds, the wheels move counter to those at the front for nimble manoeuvring, while at high speeds they turn in line with the front axle, helping to keep the car stable.

The RX 500h model is also unique in being equipped with larger, more powerful front brakes. Compared to the ventilated 340mm diameter discs of its RX siblings, the RX 500h has 400mm diameter ventilated front discs. These are paired with high-performance six-piston aluminium calipers instead of the single-piston floating calipers of the other models. And as a distinguishing feature of this top-spec model, the calipers are notable for being painted black and bearing the Lexus logo. Finally, Adaptive Variable Suspension is specified, with fast-response, independent damping control applied at each corner. 

The new hybrid experience explained by its engineer

The advanced powertrain is just one element in the equation. As chief engineer Takaaki Ohno explains, it works in harmony with a fine-tuned dynamic package that gives the driver a constant sense of connection, control comfort and confidence. He said: “Our goal with the RX 500h was to create a car that gives an exhilarating driving experience and generates a dialogue with the driver. To achieve this, we further evolved the Lexus Driving Signature by thoroughly strengthening the vehicle fundamentals, as well as adopting [our] new four-wheel drive force system, Direct4

“The RX 500h delivers a powerful, direct, and responsive driving experience through a hybrid electric system with a new high-output rear motor. The brakes offer excellent control and rigidity, and the car is equipped with Dynamic Rear Steering with a large steering angle that provides high manoeuvrability and a sense of security at high speeds. This further enhances interaction with the car and delivers a pleasant driving experience. Its addition to the RX range, along with fuel-efficient hybrid electric and plug-in hybrid electric models, provides a diverse line-up that can meet the needs and preferences of a wider range of customers.”

All information is correct at the time of publishing


    1. Hello Dragomir, thanks for your question.

      We would like to assure you that the all-new Lexus RX benefits from next-level active safety and driver assistance systems featured in the latest generation of Lexus Safety System+ with upgraded functions and increased scope for accident risk detection and prevention.


      1. ….. and the answer to Dragomair’s question is? Come on now ‘LexusBot’, as there is no such thing as a stupid question, then there can only be stupid answers, yes?

    2. Alas my wonderful Lexus LC 500 had to go as a deteriorating back condition means getting in and out is too difficult. I’ve ordered an RX 550h F Sport with Takumi pack which I pick up next week. Having read all recent reviews I am sure I will not be disappointed. It wont be an LC 500 and I will always remember your halo car with great fondness.

    1. Hello Jonathan, thanks for your question.

      A tow bar is available for this vehicle with either hub option fitment or centre fitment.


  1. Having now driven the current Toyota Rav4 Excel AWD Hybrid for coming on 3 years in July 2023 , I can honestly say that in my opinion as an advanced ex Police Driver of some 27 years service , this is THE best and most practical car I have ever driven in my entire life and I can only imagine what the new RX will drive like , though I would love to find out . I should be changing my car in July , but I love my current car so much I am seriously considering holding onto it for another couple of years at least , unless Toyota/Lexus can convince me otherwise ? LOL !

    1. Hello Tom, thanks for your comment.

      We are very glad to hear your positive feedback about the Toyota RAV4!

      If you would like to read what the press have to say about the Lexus RX, you can see their reviews here:

      Please let us know if you need any help, or have any questions, when it comes to changing your car.


  2. Hi.
    Really like this car and thinking about getting it. Someone has told me that you can’t have roof rails for a roof box if you have the pan sun roof though. Obviously you wouldn’t open the roof with the box on top but I have been told you can’t order it with both. Is that correct?

    1. Hello Andy, thanks for getting in touch.

      We are pleased to hear of your interest in the Lexus RX 500h!

      Your nearest Lexus Centre would be best placed to discuss the accessory options for your purchase. They can be found here:

      Please let us know if we can assist further.


  3. why no levison hi fi upgrade and massage seats as standard is this top of range vehicle .

    are mud flaps an optin with side steps ?

    1. Hi Michael, thanks for your comment.

      We do not offer a spare wheel for the RX at the moment and cannot comment on accessories offered in other markets.


      Lexus UK

    1. Hi Max
      This is due to its design priorities, different engines designed for efficiency versus performance, which utilise the hybrid system differently compared to the RX350h. The RX350h may prioritize efficiency which is enhanced by the EV mode, allowing for short distances to be covered using only electric power.
      Kind regards

      1. hello Lexus, thank you for your reply.

        It seems that RX500h could still use pure EV mode upon slower start-off and slow speed creeping.
        Does this mean that this powertrain could still theoretically operate in EV mode under certain conditions but just that we cannot actively choose when to activate or deactivate the EV mode?


        1. Hello Max,
          This is correct.
          Please let us know if there is anything else that we can assist you with.

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