The Lexus RX model rules the premium midsized crossover market, claiming twice the U.S. market share of its nearest rival, the Acura MDX, and improves its appeal for 2020 with more technology and new fascia.
LEXUS RX 350L AWD Lux Review
We test-drove the 2020 Lexus RX350L all-wheel-drive luxury edition with five options costing $7,705, including a $1,865 driver safety option, heads-up-display (not visible wearing sunglasses), navigation/audio upgrade, head and tail light improvements and a cold-weather package.
The biggest change for 2020 is the elimination of the center spine knob for manipulating the 12.3-inch elevated dashboard’s now six inches closer-to-driver touchscreen. That twitchy knob was replaced by a slightly less twitchy center spine touch-pad best used when not underway.
Information and functions are rich and intuitively searched and found using Lexus Enform with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay now standard and Amazon Alexa enabled with Google Assistant.
The front and rear lights were upgraded but the overall look remains similar including the large iconic Lexus spindle grill.
The seven-seater RX350L had a third row added in 2018 and is 4.4 inches longer than the five-seater RX350 costing $3,150 more, although the wheelbase is the same for both.
The third-row seats two, headroom is reduced and legroom is severely scrunched. Pushing the second row fully back touches the 3rd-row seats but power-folding those seats creates superior cargo space buyers like.
Built for comfort, not sport, our ride was smooth and cushioned with responsive handling including a 22.6-foot turning radius using Eco, Normal or Sport drive mode.
The overall crash safety rating is four of five stars. We experienced some initial lean at speed in sharp turns. The V-6 engine provides ample passing power, especially in sport mode using manual paddles. Stop/start was flawless.
Lexus Enform has seven technology-connected features that include vehicle tracking, dynamic navigation, service and information. Top driver safety aids come with the highly regarded standard Lexus Enform Safety System.
Inside, the cabin is plush and luxurious, with real wood, aluminum and semi-aniline leather trim and solid fit and finish. Soft and comfortable seats were leather lined with red piping and the second-row center pull-down armrest contained device hook-ups, cup holders and storage tray.
Maps can be remotely upgraded, the cabin was cathedral quiet with premium audio, there is a convenient cellphone pocket and voice recognition was excellent. Visors extend fully; there is a spare tire.
At a Glance
LIKES: Power, ride, looks, luxury, spacious, comfort, safety, quiet
DISLIKES: Twitchy touch pad, tight third row, heads-up display visibility
BOTTOM LINE: Popularity comes with extra cargo space, luxurious cabin, strong reliability, versatility
Fact File: LEXUS RX 350L AWD Lux Edition
3.5 liter, DOHC 24-valve, V-6, VVT-i
290 hp at 6,300 rpm
263 ft.-lbs. at 4,700 rpm
8-speed automatic; manual paddles
18 city mpg, 25 highway
19.2 gallons, regular gas
0-60 in 7.3 seconds
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Tom Crosby has written more than 1,000 automotive reviews and is a retired Vice President of Communications for AAA Carolinas. He has seen dramatic changes in the automotive industry over the past 25 years and ponders the advent of self-driving vehicles, electric-only vehicles, sophisticated in-car telematics and the financial challenges facing automotive manufacturers in an increasingly congested world-wide market.