Ever since its 1999 model year introduction, the Lexus RX has played a significant role in the luxury utility vehicle segment. In fact, it was a groundbreaking vehicle, as it brought the first luxury crossover SUV to the market.
Since then, the RX has evolved significantly, as Lexus increased its size, rolled out a hybrid variant, and eventually added a third-row option. The current model is now in its fourth generation and for 2020 it receives a mid-product-cycle upgrade, featuring styling changes and both tech and safety updates.
2020 Lexus RX Overview
The 2020 Lexus RX is a midsize crossover utility vehicle with room for five or seven. We’re not smitten with the third row (RXL) as evidenced by our review of the 2019 model. Nevertheless, that option may come in handy with families with small children. Otherwise, the Lexus GX is better suited for large families.
All models come with a 3.5-liter V6 engine. The gas model offers standard front-wheel drive and available all-wheel drive, and has an 8-speed automatic transmission. The hybrid models come with standard all-wheel drive and a 6-speed automatic transmission.
The following are the key updates with the 2020 Lexus RX and RXL:
1. Updated front and rear fascias. The 2020 RX receives updates to its front and rear ends. The front fascia has a slightly more relaxed, yet elegant look with slimmer headlamps and tweaked grille angles. From the rear, the fascia offers lights with an “L” design. Furthermore, all edges are sharpened and accentuated. Lastly, the liftgate’s available kick sensor now opens and closes faster.
2. New colors and wheels. Lexus adds a pair of new colors to the 2020 RX — Moonbeam Beige Metallic and Nori Green Pearl, the latter already available on the tiny Lexus UX crossover. A pair of new 18- and 20-inch wheel designs also roll out.
3. Expanded technologies, including smartphone compatibility. If there’s been a weak point with Lexus, smartphone compatibility is it. The company’s slow entry into the market comes as it takes pains to protect proprietary systems it doesn’t want tech companies to access. We recently saw Apple CarPlay added to the product line and for 2020 the RX becomes the first Lexus model with Google’s Android Auto. Other tech changes include an updated interface with embedded apps such as Google Maps and Waze. Apple Maps, Apple Music, and related apps are accessible with Apple devices. The standard 8-inch touchscreen display gives way to an available 12.3-inch display in some models.
4. More standard safety features. For 2020, the marque makes the Lexus Safety System+ standard. This system now includes daytime bicyclist detection and low-light pedestrian detection. Both are part of an improved Pre-Collision System. You’ll also find road sign assist and lane tracing assist.
5. Enhanced driving dynamics. To further solidify the RX’s place in the market, Lexus updated this model’s driving dynamics for 2020 to include lighter (hollow) front and rear stabilizer bars to not just reduce weight but to reduce body roll and improve steering response. Also, retuned shock absorbers, updated dampers, and a stiffer suspension system thwarts understeering and improves vehicle handling.
6. Additional F Sport Access. Lexus’ F Sport line brings trim and suspension changes to each model. Indeed, for 2020, Lexus offers not one, but two F Sport packages. An enhanced RX F Sport package brings in elements from the LC sports car, including an active variable suspension system that’s more responsive than before. The package also includes a cold air intake, active sound control, electric power steering, and a heated steering wheel. As for the standard F Sport package, it now includes new front and rear performance dampers, and drive mode select with Sport+ and customer drive modes.
Additional Details Forthcoming
Not all details about the 2020 Lexus RX and RXL are known, including its price, package costs, and other options. Lexus will continue to offer hybrid RX 450h and RX 450hL variants. Production of the 2020 model begins in the third quarter with its on-sale arrival this fall.
In all, the refreshed 2020 Lexus RX does everything it must do to stay competitive in a segment that includes such models as the Cadillac XT5, Acura MDX, Mercedes-Benz GLE, BMW X5, and the Infiniti QX60. We think the expanded technologies will help attract customers to this model.
Look for a future Auto Trends review of the 2020 Lexus RX.
See Also — Compact Luxury and the Lexus NX
Photos copyright Lexus (Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.)