2020 Lexus RX and RXL Preview: Rejuvenating an Aging Icon
Competes with: Acura MDX, BMW X5, Infiniti QX60
Looks like: The RX gets a bit angrier, with a sharper nose, but the overall look is very close to last year’s model.
Drivetrains: 295-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6, eight-speed automatic transmission (RX 350, RX 350L); 308 total hp, 3.5-liter V-6 and electric motor, continuously variable automatic (RX 450h, RX 450hL); front- or all-wheel drive (RX 350, RX 350L); all-wheel drive only (RX 450h, RX 450hL)
Hits dealerships: Summer 2019
Believe it or not, the Lexus RX can legally have a drink now — the popular luxury SUV is celebrating its 21st birthday this year. To mark the occasion, Lexus has given the RX and three-row RXL variant a series of updates for the 2020 model year in hopes it will rejuvenate the aging crossover.
This generation of the RX has been around since the 2016 model year, though there have been a few changes since then. The largest of those additions is the RXL, an extended three-row version of the RX that adds a third row and two more (small) seats to the vehicle. Lexus has targeted the updates for the 2020 RX and RXL to address a few of the crossover’s weaknesses — namely technology and driving dynamics.
If you’re a fan of the Lexus “big grille” aesthetic, then you’ll continue to be a fan of the RX’s styling. The nose is still dominated by the large, pinched front grille, though Lexus has updated the styling around it. The lower bumper has been changed up front, with larger air inlets and a repositioning of the foglights to a lower position. Lexus will also offer “triple beam” slim LED headlights as an option, which makes the RX seem a touch squintier.
Out back, Lexus says there’s a new rear fascia design (I can’t seem to really pick it out). It’s less dramatic than the front, though that isn’t saying much — with the front’s dramatic styling, it’s hard for the rear to keep up. The powered rear liftgate is augmented by an available kick sensor, enabling hands-free operation.
The Lexus multimedia system has been in need of an update, and while we don’t get that here, we do get the next best thing as the RX adds Android Auto and Apple CarPlay so that you have more options for using the system. The standard screen is an 8-inch display, with an optional 12.3-inch screen available, as well. Both screens can function as touchscreens, but they’re mounted pretty high up on the dash and can be hard to reach, so there’s also a touchpad between the front seats that can be used instead.
Otherwise, things stay pretty much the same. Six USB ports spread throughout the cabin for convenient device charging.
Under the Hood
The powertrains for 2020 carry over from last year’s model. RX 350 and RX 350L models feature a 295-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 that’s mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive optional. The RX 450h and RX 450hL hybrids combine a 3.5-liter V-6 with two electric motors and a continuously variable automatic transmission; total system output is 308 hp and the hybrid comes with standard AWD. Lexus estimates 30 mpg combined for the RX hybrid and 29 mpg combined for the RXL hybrid.
While the powertrains are the same, there are some suspension changes intended to make the RX feel tighter on the road. Front and rear stabilizer bars have been thickened, and the upgraded shocks are designed to better handle high-frequency vibrations from the road for a smoother ride. Lexus has also added an “active corner braking” system that will brake the inside tire on turns to add stability to the handling.
Lexus is splitting the F Sport packages into two for 2020, one that offers more of a sporty appearance package and the other more performance upgrades. The F Sport “look” adds aggressive styling, front and rear performance dampers, and Sport Plus and Customer drive modes. On top of that, the new F Sport performance “package” adds a cold air intake, active variable suspension, active sound control, electric power steering and a heated steering wheel (one of those things is not like the other).
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- 7 Must-Have Safety Features for Your Mom-Mobile
All RX models come with a robust set of standard safety features, with the Lexus Safety System Plus 2.0 standard across the lineup. That includes all-speed adaptive cruise control, automatic forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, automatic high-beams and road sign assist.
The 2020 RX and RXL will go into production in the summer and head to dealerships soon after that. Lexus says pricing information will be revealed closer to the RX’s on sale date.
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