Lexus SUVs aren't sporty. They're plush and luxurious, and they glide more than they pop.
So, whenever a Lexus shows up on my schedule, I know the journey will be a comfortable one.
Such was definitely the case with the refreshed 2020 Lexus RX
350L, which provided comfort not only for me but also my front- and middle-row passengers. POWER PLAY
Comfortable, yes, but heart-flipping-fun? Perhaps not.
If someone is looking for an instant surge of power and a rumbly engine, the RX 350L is not the right vehicle for them.
That's not to say the 3.5-liter V-6 engine isn't quick. It is. But the power is delivered more smoothly and calmly than something on the sportier side of the spectrum.
That V-6 delivers 290 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque, which is right-sized for aggressive passing maneuvers as well as off-the-line acceleration in urban situations.
The overall ride is smooth, and even on some rougher road surfaces, the effects of the grooves are minimized. I wouldn't say the RX-L is nimble, but it handles well for a vehicle of this size.
The RX is available in both front- and all-wheel-drive configurations. A hybrid powertrain is also available, and will deliver 308 combined system horsepower. STRONG LINES
I know a lot of people still find the front grille of any Lexus polarizing, but I've always liked it.
And, IMHO, it looks especially nice on the Lexus RX-L. In fact, the wide-open mouth of the grille full of zigs and zags works better on a vehicle of larger proportions. So, in this instance it comes off more elegant coach and less creepy jack-o-lantern.
The sharp edges on the face of the RX-L blend well with the strong horizontal lines and jagged edges of the headlights and taillights.
The interior is handsomely designed with soft-touch materials, reverse stitching, cushy seats and interesting accent pieces. I've always been a fan of the analog clock on the dash and appreciated the up-level 12.3-inch display screen.
The RX-L has the same wheelbase as the RX, but it adds about 4 inches in length to accommodate a third row. You can tell the RX-L is larger, but it doesn't look stretched.
About that third row: It's more of an occasional seat than an all-the-time seat. While it's easy to access, legroom is minimal - probably enough for an average 10-year-old - and the seats aren't as plush as the first and second rows. There are no USB ports back there, but oddly, there are air vents and HVAC controls.
It's also worth noting that even though the RX-L adds length, it doesn't have huge step-in height. My mother, who uses a walker, was able to back up to the front passenger side, hike her hip onto the seat and then pull herself in. Taller SUVs - and even minivans - are much more difficult for her to navigate. STANDARD SAFETY & OTHER TECH
Toyota and Lexus were among the final holdouts of automakers not offering Apple CarPlay or Android Auto in favor of proprietary software. When the ban lifted, however, only CarPlay was on the slate for these vehicles.
This changes for 2020, and the RX is the first Lexus model to receive Android Auto. Hallelujah.
Both CarPlay and Auto integrate seamlessly into the vehicle's info screen, displaying things such as Waze maps, podcasts and your audio library.
Additionally, for this refresh, the infotainment display becomes a touch screen, with redundant controls on the touchpad. An 8-inch screen is standard with the aforementioned 12.3-inch screen available as an option.
Lexus also adds its Safety System+ 2.0 as standard fare on the 2020 RX. This includes features such as automatic emergency braking, road sign assist, lane trace assist and adaptive cruise control.WHAT IT COSTS
We hesitate to call the different models available within the RX lineup "trims" because they are more package options than trim levels. In total, there is only about a $6K spread between the "base" and "top" level models.
The primary differences include the sporty appearance and adaptive variable suspension of the F-Sport, the hybrid powertrain on the "h" models and the extra row in the "L."
Bear in mind, the gasoline models are FWD with the option of AWD (+$1,400), and the hybrids are AWD only. Here is a cost-differential breakdown.
* RX 350: $45,175
* RX 350 F Sport: $48,975
* RX 350L: $48,325
* RX 450h: $47,775
* RX 450h F Sport: $51,575
* RX 450hL: $51,485
Our test vehicle was an RX 350L in Nori Green Pearl that added the Luxury Package and Navigation Package for an as-tested price of $56,610.BONUS POINTS
The Lexus RX-L is smooth and accommodating. It handles both passengers and cargo easily, and has some nice amenities to keep everyone - in all rows - happy.
I put the Lexus through a family test and they certainly appreciated the three-zone climate control. My dad loved the available heated seats in the second row, just as my husband loved the ventilated front seat and the ability to set his temperature to 68 degrees. In juxtaposition, I set my temperature to 74 and made good use of the heated front seats. In other words, everyone was happy!
Another nice feature is the available power-folding third row seats - with controls in the cargo area and the second row.A COUPLE GLITCHES
With the new touch screen, I'm not sure I see the need for the touchpad anymore. While it has a better location than other Lexus vehicles (closer to the driver than the passenger), I rarely touched the thing. I did try to set my navigation using the pad at the beginning of my time with the RX, and it was an exercise in frustration.
One weird glitch I noticed was that the "sign reader" feature was occasionally at odds with the speed limit on the vehicle's map. The head-up display would show one speed, and the map would show another. The map was always right. This may be as simple as the sign reader being behind-the-times by not having seen a new speed limit sign when merging on a highway or changing roads. But it was an oddity none-the-less. AT THE END OF THE DAY
The RX-L is an interesting vehicle with its stretched length. It features a car-like ride, but it is equipped to accommodate the occasional short-term third-row passenger - like for carpools or hauling kids to and from events. Something no sedan can do.
However, it's more of a two-row vehicle in every-day situations. The bonus in that situation: oodles of cargo volume when the third row is folded flat.
This would be a great vehicle for families like mine. We typically have two to four passengers, but a few times during the year we need a couple extra seats for friends or family so we can use one vehicle when heading out for urban adventures.