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2020 Lexus RX Gets Small Updates in the Right Places

by Paul Strauss
2020 Lexus RX Gets Small Updates in the Right Placeszoom in

The Lexus RX has been the brand’s top-selling vehicle in the U.S. for quite some time. It got its start at a soft and cushy grocery getter, but over the years has become a much more enjoyable vehicle to drive, while still maintaining its luxurious styling and amenities.

I spent some quality time with the RX when it was fully redesigned for the 2016 model year, and found it to be an excellent vehicle overall – with my favorite being the F Sport model, thanks to its more dynamic and direct suspension setup. For 2020, the RX is mostly the same vehicle, with a handful of updates and upgrades to make it just that much better.

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For 2020, the refinements are selective, but thoughtful, starting with chassis improvements across the line. While the RX has yet to move to the TNGA platform that most other Lexus and Toyota vehicles have adopted, the latest RX does benefit from more structural adhesive and increased laser screw welds in the lower part of its frame, especially around the wheel wells. This results in a stiffer overall chassis, and better handling. I still found the F Sport’s suspension setup to be more responsive, but the Premium model I drove also felt better behaved when cornering.

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From the front, the new RX has an overall more refined and sophisticated look. The changes are subtle, but well executed. There are streamlined new headlamps with a triple-beam option, a less severe spindle grille, and sharp-looking air intakes flanking its sides. Also, gone is the version of the grille with the horizontal bar look, which felt like a holdover from an older Lexus design aesthetic to me anyhow. There’s also a handsome new color called Nori Green Pearl, which I’ve yet to see in person, but looks great in publicity photos.

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Inside, the 2020 RX sees the addition of a useful smartphone pocket that holds just about any size phone securely, and there are now six USB outlets in the cabin. Every model now has paddle shifters, and the Premium package now gets NuLuxe trimmed seats.

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The biggest change is something we’ve been asking Lexus to do for a long time – the infotainment screen finally has touchscreen capability. The puck/mouse is gone and been replaced with a trackpad, which still isn’t my favorite, but now that there’s a touchscreen, working with the interface is far more intuitive. While they did move the screen a few inches closer to the driver, it’s still a bit of a reach if you don’t have long arms though.

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Available with either an 8″ or 12.3″ touchscreen, you’ll also get both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, along with Amazon Alexa integration. Also new is Lexus Safety System+ 2.0, which now adds low- light pedestrian and daytime bicyclist detection to its pre-collision safety, as well as lane-tracing assist, road sign assist, and a new and improved dynamic radar cruise control.

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Drivetrain options are unchanged, with the RX 350 and RX 350 L getting a 295 hp, 3.5-liter V6 and an 8-speed automatic, and the RX 450h and RX 450hL hybrids add a motor to boost that to 308 total horsepower, and use an CVT instead. The gas models can be had in either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, while the hybrid motor in rear means those are always AWD. Here in the snowy midwest, almost 100% of the RXs sold are all-wheel drive. The F Sport package now can be purchased as a strictly cosmetic upgrade, or with a Performance package, which adds sport-tuned electric power steering, adaptive variable suspension, sport drive modes, and an air intake and sound generator which add just a bit more oomph to its exhaust note.

The 2020 Lexus RX has already started to turn up in dealerships, and offers a welcome set of small, but meaningful upgrades over the 2019 lineup.

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