2013 Lexus RX at the 2012 Geneva International Motor Show

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  • Competes with: Acura MDX and Mercedes-Benz M-Class
  • Looks like: RX gains some style with a couple of new appearance packages; sweeping LED headlights and a more dynamic-looking grille also help
  • Drivetrain: 270-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 and six-speed automatic transmission (gas); 295-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 and continuously variable automatic transmission (hybrid)
  • Hits dealerships: this April

Gas and hybrid versions of Lexus’ popular midsize crossover get a face-lift for the 2013 model year. The Lexus RX now wears what the automaker calls a bolder version of its signature “spindle grille,” and it gets an updated interior, more standard equipment and new appearance packages for the model year.

The five-passenger SUV continues to seat five and reprises last year’s powertrains. The gas and hybrid models are available with front- or all-wheel drive. The RX 350 pairs a 270-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine with a six-speed automatic transmission. The hybrid RX 450h combines a 3.5-liter gas V-6 with an electric motor for a total of 295 hp.

A Sport mode is available this year on the hybrid model. It tunes steering, throttle and transmission shift points to make more efficient use of the powertrain, Lexus says.

Other exterior updates include a revised front bumper, new headlamp design with LED daytime running lights and rear-end styling tweaks. Four new exterior colors are available: Silver Lining Metallic, Claret Mica, Deep Sea Mica and Fire Agate Pearl. They replace Tungsten Pearl, Matador Red Mica and Cerulean Blue Metallic.

A new optional Sport Appearance Package adds 19-inch chrome wheels, a unique front bumper and halogen headlamps. Available on the 450h is the F-Sport trim. It adds features such as a honeycomb-style grill insert, body aero package, tinted lights, larger wheels and sport seats, sport steering wheel and alloy pedals.

Inside, a power liftgate and USB port are now standard. A redesigned steering wheel should provide a more comfortable and relaxing grip, according to Lexus. Other interior design tweaks include new metallic trim throughout the cabin, Ebony Birds’-Eye Maple wood trim, Saddle-colored leather surfaces with contrast stitching and a redesigned center console.

The new RX gets an updated version of the Remote Touch interface that should make the multimedia system more intuitive to use, Lexus says. The system uses a computer-mouse-like device to control climate, navigation and audio functions. It also uses the next generation of Lexus’ Enform application system, which manages apps like Pandora, Bing, FaceBook, Yelp and more.

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News Editor Jennifer Geiger joined the automotive industry in 2003, much to the delight of her Corvette-obsessed dad. Jennifer is an expert reviewer, certified car-seat technician and mom of three. She wears a lot of hats — many of them while driving a minivan. Email Jennifer Geiger

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