The latest edition of the top-selling luxury crossover in the U.S., the 2020 Lexus RX effortlessly brings together luxury, technology, a sublime passenger experience and meticulous craftsmanship. Although the F-Sport has more to do with style than driving dynamics, the RX offers a selection of driving experiences through its gasoline and hybrid models.
There are a few nits to pick like the frustrating Remote Touch interface (Lexus addressed this with a redundant touchscreen), stingy cargo space and a third-row seat in “L” versions that defies using. But when you consider a price tag lower than its European competitors enhanced with the Lexus reputation for quality, the RX is tough to ignore.
What’s New for 2020?
Lexus provides a few exterior enhancements like new headlights and taillights, as well as front/rear fascia tweaks. Some minor suspension changes target body roll and suspension vibration. One of two touchscreens join the twitchy touchpad to control the infotainment system featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. See the 2020 Lexus RX models for sale near you
What We Like
- Exemplary Lexus build quality
- Comfort and composed driving experience
- Efficient hybrid model
- Standard accident avoidance tech
- Sterling reliability reputation
What We Don’t
- Frustrating Remote Touch tech interface
- RX 350L’s laughable third-row seat
- Less cargo capacity than rival crossovers
The RX 350 has a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 295 horsepower and 263 lb-ft of torque. Unusually, output lowers to 290 hp and 263 lb-ft with the RX 350L. An 8-speed automatic and front-wheel drive (FWD) are standard, while all-wheel drive (AWD) is an option.
Fuel economy estimates are 20 miles per gallon in the city, 27 mpg on the highway and 23 mpg in combined driving for a FWD RX 350. These figures lower by 1 mpg each for the AWD RX 350, as well as for the FWD RX 350L. It dips 1 mpg further with the AWD RX 350L.
The RX 450h is a hybrid, using a different 3.5-liter V6, plus three electric motors for a combined output of 308 hp. Two of those motors motivate the front and rear axles, respectively, creating a different sort of AWD system that accomplishes the goal of improving poor weather traction but isn’t suited to more demanding off-road tasks.
Fuel economy is 31 mpg city/28 mpg hwy/30 mpg combined for the RX 450h. These drop to 29 mpg city/28 mpg hwy/29 mpg combined with the RX 450h L. Although significantly more efficient than the gas-only RX, the hybrid requires premium gasoline, which nearly wipes out any savings you’d see at the pump. As such, choosing the hybrid should be to reduce your carbon footprint rather than saving money.
Standard Features & Options
The 2019 Lexus RX can seem like a gobbledygook of letters and numbers, so let’s break this code down. First, 350 equals the gas-only model while 450h is the hybrid. The letter L indicates the lengthened 3-row version that seats either six or seven depending on whether you get a second-row bench or two captain’s chairs. Without the L, the RX seats five people in two rows. FWD and AWD refer to FWD and AWD. The F Sport is a sportier variant of the 2-row model.
AWD is a $1,400 option. All prices include the $1,025 factory delivery charge.
Standard equipment is largely consistent regardless of the model. The basic RX ($45,175) includes 18-in alloy wheels, a power lift gate, automatic LED headlights, automatic high beams, forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, a backup camera, proximity entry and push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, 8-way power front seats, “NuLuxe” simulated leather upholstery, a power-adjustable leather-wrapped steering wheel, a cargo cover, an 8-in infotainment touchscreen also controlled by a center console knob, Bluetooth, two USB ports and a 9-speaker audio system with a media player interface, CD player, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, HD radio and an auxiliary audio jack.
The Premium package adds auto-dimming/folding mirrors, driver memory settings and wood trim. The Luxury package includes those items plus 20-in alloy wheels, upgraded leather upholstery, front-seat lumbar adjustment, a heated steering wheel, power moonroof, and rear door sunshades.
The RX 450h ($47,775) is outfitted much like the 350, but with a gasoline/electric hybrid system and standard AWD.
The RX 350 F Sport ($48,975) and the RX 450h F Sport ($51,575) add to the base models 20-in wheels, adaptive suspension dampers, enhanced engine sounds, transmission paddles shifters, sportier exterior styling and interior trim, heated and ventilated front sport seats, unique leather upholstery, extra color choices and the Premium package contents. The Luxury package is not available, nor can you apply the F Sport to the L body style.
Available on every version is the Navigation package, which includes the Remote Touch interface (a 12.3-in central display, a joystick like center console controller), integrated navigation and a 12-speaker sound system.
Further option availability can depend on region, specifically in regard to certain options that can be available as either stand-alone items and/or within packages. These include blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic warning, a hands-free power lift gate, a choice of sunroofs (regular or panoramic), parking sensors, upgraded headlights, a power-folding second-row seat, the heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a head-up display and a 15-speaker Mark Levinson sound system.
The RX comes standard with an impressive amount of safety features beyond the usual stability control and airbags. Found as options on many competitors, Forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist and emergency communications are all standard. Optional are blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
In government crash tests, the 2020 RX received the best-possible 5-star rating for overall crash protection, including 4-star frontal and 5-star side crash ratings. The non-profit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave it the best possible ratings for crash protection and prevention, as well as for its child seat LATCH anchors.
Behind the Wheel
Even in basic trim, the 2020 Lexus RX has composed handling and instills greater driver confidence than past RX generations. This is enhanced with the F Sport package thanks to sharper steering and an adaptive suspension that not only reduces body roll but also improves ride quality.
Regardless of variant, though, expect the RX to be a relaxing way to commute or take a road trip. It’s really quite lovely thanks to its comfortable and composed ride, tranquil cabin, smooth transmission and predictable power output. The RX 450h is prone to a bit of droning from its transmission like all Toyota/Lexus hybrids, but its power and fuel economy are hard to fault. Autotrader’s Rob Nestora says “The Lexus RX 450h is incredibly smooth while in EV mode, which is exactly what you would expect from a luxury hybrid crossover. The virtually silent driving reinforces the luxury aspect of the RX and makes the experience all the more enjoyable. If only it could stay quiet all the time.”
Inside, you’ll find one of the plushest and most meticulously crafted interiors in the segment. From the handsome dash design to the buttery soft leather, the RX looks and feels special. Adding the Navigation package and its 12.3-in infotainment screen adds a dash of high-tech cool, but unfortunately, it also adds the Remote Touch controller that’s a constant source of frustration and distraction. Make sure to try it out thoroughly during a test drive.
In terms of space, the RX’s second row is comfortable, spacious and easily capable of securing a rear-facing child seat with room to spare. Cargo space is unremarkable for the segment, however, due to the RX’s significantly raked roofline. Space behind the raised back seat is a relatively paltry 18.4 cu ft. or 56.3 cu ft. with the seat lowered. Opting for the lengthened L is a good idea if you want extra cargo space, as those figures expand to 34.1 cu ft. and 58.5 cu ft., respectively.
The RX L is not a good idea, however, if you’re seeking a 3-row crossover with a third row you can actually use. Anyone taller than five feet is unlikely to fit with any sort of comfort, meaning that even if the kids fit now, they won’t for long. Virtually every competitor is better.
Other Cars to Consider
2020 Acura MDX — The RX’s closest competitor in terms of pricing and reliability reputation. It is 3-row only and available as a hybrid.
Used BMW X5 — Stronger performance than the RX, along with better handling and cornering capabilities, plus the cachet of the BMW name. But prices are a lot higher, so a used model is the way we would go.
Since the F Sport improves both handling and ride quality (plus a handful of worthwhile luxury extras), we think it’s actually the way to go — even if you don’t particularly care about getting something with “Sport” in its name. Now, choosing it does eliminate the lengthened L from consideration, but then its paltry amount of third-row space might take it out of consideration anyway. Find a 2020 Lexus RX for sale