Mild changes make a big difference.
The Lexus RX’s infotainment system had a fever, so the Japanese luxury brand’s engineers ordered up a prescription of touchscreen technology. That’s right, after years of tapping haphazardly at Lexus’s irritating touchpad-based infotainment controls, the 2020 Lexus RX welcomes a touchscreen infotainment system to its dashboard. It serves as a complement to the ergonomically challenged, console-mounted touchpad. In conjunction with newly available Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility (the latter of which is a Lexus first), the RX’s most egregious flaw becomes merely a minor annoyance.
Despite the infotainment setup’s lightning-quick responses to touch inputs and crisp on-screen graphics, the system’s menu structures clearly favor a touchpad; not a touchscreen. As a result, some icons for the larger 12.3-inch screen (an 8.0-inch unit is standard) are too far away from the driver, while others, such as a "home" button, are simply missing. Instead of tapping an on-screen icon to get to the home screen, users need to reach toward the touchpad and poke a physical button. Still, the updated infotainment system marks a massive improvement over the previous setup.
Lexus tinkered with other aspects of the RX, too, and the model includes revisions to the front and rear fascias, thinner and more attractive headlights, alterations to the taillights, and light rhinoplasty to the brand’s now-ubiquitous spindle grille. Although the RX’s origami-like styling remains, the 2020 model’s looks are more cohesive. At least on the standard model. The larger, three-row RX L’s sizeable rump remains rather ungainly, while its rearmost-row stays cramped.
Although the RX’s origami-like styling remains, the 2020 model’s looks are more cohesive.
Underhood live the same gasoline or gasoline-electric hybrid powertrains as last year: a 295-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 in the RX 350 and a 308-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 that works with a trio of electric motors in the RX 450h. The former engine proves a fine partner on the twisting tarmac that makes up Costa Rica’s Route 253 and 254 where Lexus invited us to try its refreshed crossover. Thanks to a stiffer suspension and thicker front and rear anti-roll bars, the latest RX 350 feels a smidge livelier than before, while the eight-speed automatic transmission crisply swaps cogs through the roads’ uphill sections.
Further benefiting our all-wheel-drive RX 350 test vehicle are a set of adaptive dampers, available with the optional F Sport package. Limited to RX F Sport models, the F Sport package complements standard F Sport kit such as more aggressive front and rear fascias, trim-specific wheels, and Sport + and Custom drive modes (in addition to the typical Eco, Comfort, and Sport modes).
Still, the RX remains a comfort-oriented machine and the F Sport with F Sport package’s slightly flinty ride quality, hard front-seat bottoms, and aggressive seat bolsters are counter to the crossover’s whisper-quiet interior, light and precise – but mute – steering, and spacious three-across rear bench seat. It may look a little less exciting, but the cushier ride and less aggressive front seats of the standard RX likely make it preferable to the RX F Sport.
Regardless, every RX now includes Lexus’s latest suite of advanced safety features. Dubbed Lexus Safety System + 2.0, the suite now includes lane centering, bicycle detection, and road-sign assistance, in addition to previously available features such as automatic front braking with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, automatic high-beam headlights, and adaptive cruise control.
Although the revisions to the 2020 Lexus RX are relatively minor, the mid-size luxury crossover SUV’s updates, particularly those done to the infotainment system, are just what the proverbial doctor ordered.