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2022 Mercedes Benz GLE 350 vs 2023 Lexus RX 350

VIDEO: Redesigned 2023 Lexus RX 350 vs 2022 Mercedes Benz GLE - SUV Smackdown

Can the latest from Lexus take down Germany's finest?

• The Lexus RX 350 is fully redesigned for 2023.

• We wanted to know if this best-seller has what it takes to ward off the strongest competition.

• That would be the Mercedes-Benz GLE, our top-rated midsize luxury SUV.

It's difficult to overstate how important the RX 350 is to the Lexus lineup. It's one of the best-selling SUVs on the market and it serves as a trend-setter for other Lexus models. That's why a brand-new RX is such a big deal for the brand. But new doesn't always mean better, so we pitted the new RX 350 against the current Mercedes-Benz GLE 350 to see if the new kid on the block has what it takes to challenge a segment stalwart.

It's hard to tell which option is best until we get them both out on the same roads on the same day, but if you want to find out which way we're leaning right now, check out the video below. It's safe to say the competition is closer than we initially expected, and that's despite the fact that the Lexus we had was a preproduction example still undergoing final testing by the automaker. Although the Lexus was nearly production-ready, it wasn't 100%. Even so, we were given early access to one for the sake of this comparison.

Both SUVs examined here come powered by turbocharged four-cylinder engines. While the Mercedes has less power on paper, it felt like the sprightlier option once we got both cars out on the road. The Mercedes is also based on a rear-wheel-drive platform, which likely contributes to its more fun-to-drive nature relative to the front-wheel-drive-based Lexus. That said, the Lexus isn't without its own advantages.

For starters, it's far kinder to your wallet. The Lexus starts at almost $7,000 less than the Mercedes, and while the latter offers a boatload of features, almost all of them are optional extras that can get pricey. The Lexus is also a big leap forward in terms of technology, usability and comfort when compared to the previous RX. The interior is a comfortable place to be, with supportive seats, premium-feeling materials and a suite of tech features that finally feels up to date. Lexus even got rid of its much-maligned trackpad-like infotainment controller in favor of a touchscreen setup — it's a change we have to highlight because it seriously improves this car's user experience.

In the end, we had a clear winner, but both cars are fully deserving of a serious look if you're interested in a new luxury SUV. Which one wins your heart will simply depend on what you want out of it.

Edmunds says

The 2023 Lexus RX 350 is a nice step in the right direction for Lexus, while the GLE in any form remains one of the strongest and most competitive entrants in the segment.