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First Look: 2020 Lexus RX and RXL

Ron Sessions


Lexus has just unveiled the 2020 version of its RX crossover suv. At first blush, the 2020 model appears to be about the same provocatively styled version Lexus has been selling since 2016 with its large, spindle-shaped grille, highly sculpted body contours, and richly appointed cabin. But five years is a long time to stand still in the highly competitive SUV segment, and with the 2020 model, the top-selling RX gets a refresh.


The Lexus RX has been a huge sales success for two decades, arguably pioneering the luxury midsize crossover segment that numerous competitors such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Infiniti, Acura, Cadillac, and others have followed. The RX singlehandedly outsells all other Lexus car models combined. With this freshening, Lexus is aiming to continue on its winning streak.


Outside, the 2020 RX receives an updated front and rear appearance. The available 3-unit LED headlamps are now slimmer and sleeker, wrapping farther into the front fenders. The RX’s trademark spindle-shaped grille has softer, more rounded edges now and receives an elaborate pattern of L-shaped blocks, each with a different size and proportion. At the rear, the L-shaped theme continues in the tail lamps. You probably need a 2019 model parked alongside to notice the difference, although it is quite attractive.


Inside, the new RX gets some notable enhancements to its infotainment system. Both the standard 8-inch and optional horizontal-format 12.3-inch display screens (your choice) continue, but long-suffering Android-based cellphone users can finally access their phone’s apps via Android Auto. The RX is the first Lexus model to offer it (Apple CarPlay is also available for iPhone users). With either platform, users benefit from using an interface that’s similar to their cellphone and gives larger screen tiles, access to maps for navigation (Google or Apple) and minimizes distractions with easy-to-use voice commands.


The touchscreen, Lexus says, is also more user-friendly to navigate now, moving from a mouse-like controller to a helicopter landing-pad-like touchpad on the console.

Following the trend to add more safety systems, the 2020 Lexus RX makes the brand’s Safety System+ 2.0 standard on all trims. The system includes Road Sign Assist, which comes in very handy when you see a police car and need to know what the speed limit is. It also includes an expanded Pre-Collision System to detect bicyclists and operate in low-light conditions. This feature can spot vehicles and pedestrians in harm’s way, warn the driver, and apply the brakes if the driver does not. Safety System+ 2.0 also adds lane tracing assist to help keep the RX lane centered (even when lane markings are not detectable, and follow the vehicle ahead if the all-speed dynamic radar cruise control system is activated.


The RX has up to now been known for its excellent ride quality if not it's sporty handling. For 2020, RX engineers dived in a stiffened the SUV’s body with structural adhesives and additional spot welds, firmed up the front and rear anti-roll bars for flatter cornering and upgraded the shocks to tame high-frequency vibrations. Steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters are now standard on all RX trims.


Additionally, F Sport models get a more eloquent-looking grille, a cold-air intake and active sound control for a more robust aural signature at wider throttle openings. The F-Sport also receives performance shocks, an added Sport+ mode to the Drive Mode Select system, and the active variable damping system from the Lexus LC high-performance coupe.

The 5-passenger 2020 Lexus RX and 7-passenger Lexus RX-L gas and hybrid models go on sale this August.