Technology is the new measuring stick in the luxury car segment, and Lexus has recently trailed its main rivals in that department. It’s done playing second fiddle. For 2020, its popular RX crossover finally offers two features that shoppers spent years asking the company for, and it also benefits from chassis and design updates that promise to make it a better all-arounder.
In the past, the only way to navigate the RX’s infotainment system was to use a touchpad located on the center console, right behind the gear selector. It looked and felt like it came from a laptop, and it wasn’t very user-friendly, especially not when you’re traveling at 75 mph. For 2020, the RX gets a touchscreen-based infotainment system. Entry-level models come standard with an 8-inch screen, but a bigger, 12.3-inch unit is offered on upmarket models. The larger screen also gets a more sophisticated voice-control system, which Lexus claims can recognize “millions” more phrases than the entry-level system. The touchpad remains on the center console for the motorists who got used to it. We recently tested out the new setup, and found the touchscreen easy to use. But it would have been better if Lexus had scrapped the awkward-to-use touchpad.
Lexus parent company Toyota recently decided to offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto after years of keeping the software out of its dashboards due to security and privacy concerns. Some Lexus and Toyota models are already available with CarPlay, but the RX is the first Lexus to get Android Auto as well. While they sound minor, these two upgrades will help make the crossover much more appealing to car shoppers.
If you squint hard enough, you might notice the RX gets discreet styling tweaks on both ends. The changes apply to the five-seater RX, and to the seven-seater RX L. Lexus made suspension modifications to both models to give them a smoother, quieter ride while making them a little bit more dynamic to drive by keeping body lean in check. It also improved the emergency braking technology by teaching it how to recognize cyclists.
The firm hasn’t made any significant changes to the RX’s specifications sheet. The entry-level model is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that sends 295 horsepower to the front wheels. All-wheel drive is available at an extra cost. Buyers who want better fuel economy can select an optional hybrid powertrain made up of the aforementioned V6 and a trio of electric motors. The setup channels 308 horsepower to the four wheels, and helps the RX return an impressive 30 mpg in a combined cycle. Lexus also made some small changes to improve handling, including stiffer suspension and a feature that brakes an inner wheel while cornering to reduce understeer. But we didn’t notice a huge difference on our recent first drive.
The 2020 Lexus RX will reach showrooms soon. Pricing starts at $45,245 for the two-row RX, and $48,395 for the three-row RX L, including destination. Main rivals include the Acura MDX, the Volvo XC90, the BMW X5, the Mercedes-Benz GLE, and the Audi Q7. Lexus also has two new rivals from American brands — the Cadillac XT6 and Lincoln Aviator.
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