Review: The 2020 Lexus RX350L

by Robert Stedman
25 Jun 2020

Of comfort and solid performance.

A few months ago, Lexus unveiled the 2020 Lexus RX350L SUV at the Singapore Cars@Expo and revealed some evolutionary changes to the brand’s core model. It was Lexus, after all, which helped first establish the luxury SUV segment when the model was first introduced in 1998.

As with most SUVs, the shape of the car is slightly boxy. However, the 2020 Lexus RX exterior does have a luxury look about it.

The car’s new sculpted front and rear bumper designs give the RX a slightly dynamic appearance. By connecting the rocker panels to the bottom of the grille in a straight line, the new design delivers a look of strength and stability.

The signature Lexus spindle grille (love it or hate it) adds to the “L” pattern mesh and a new frame that blends into the side of the front bumpers to provide a unified and solid profile. But make no mistake, this is a big SUV and is 5m long, from stem to stern.

While a dynamic design helps define the car’s exterior, comfort and roominess are to be found on the inside. The RX30L has an extra row of rear seats that make this car ideal for families.

The 2020 Lexus RX 350L offers a newly designed cockpit that is very driver friendly. And you can’t miss the 12.3-inch infotainment screen in the middle of the split-level dash. It does look a bit old-fashioned, like a big piece of toast that’s popped out of the toaster or, in this case, the dash.

The overall tone of the interior is luxury with plenty of hides of supple leather-adorned seats and panels. The front seats are especially comfortable and harkens back to days when overstuffed plush chairs were fashionable.

The other thing that makes the Lexus RX exceptional is the quietness of the interior. You’d swear you could hear a pin drop in the rear of the car, if it had pins, of course. This inherent silence makes the Lexus Premium Audio System with 12 Speakers sound exceptionally good.

Lexus finally changed its Remote Touch Interface with the mouse- style joystick controller to a new touchpad, which is intuitive and easy to use. The speedometer and tachometer in the Lexus RX are still analog, while many manufacturers have opted for LCD panels that can imitate the gauges and be customized to suit the driver’s preferences.

On the car we tested, performance was a bit less than we expected. There was a noticeable lag in acceleration from the 3.5-liter, 289- hp V6 engine. Figures show that this SUV will zoom from zero to 100kmh in a little over eight seconds — on paper at least. That’s kind of fast, but not that fast compared to other luxury SUVs on the market.

In terms of the RX’s driving character, it drives like a smaller SUV, which is hard to imagine, as this car comes in at something over 2.2 metric tons and is super long.

The four-wheel drive makes the RX surefooted and easy to roll down the road. However, whether it’s due to its weight or complex suspension, the car does seem to float down the road much in the same way a Rolls-Royce hovers over the asphalt.

Even in the sport mode the ride was still a bit soft, which may not be a bad thing. Lexus built the SUV for comfort without compromise. The eight- speed transmission is a thing of wonder, as shift changes are hardly noticeable. The RX has three drive modes: Eco, Normal and Sport.

If the ride is a bit soft, the car itself is wonderfully stiff (a good thing) and employs some of the latest car assembly technologies, such as Laser Screw Welding throughout the vehicle, along with the increased use of high-strength adhesives (yes, some components in today’s cars are actually glued together).

In combination with the stiffening of stabilizer bars (now hollow and wider) and enhanced hub rigidity, the result is a more immediate response to steering. However, we did notice that the car had a slight oversteer if steering was rushed.

Still, the 2020 Lexus RX is capable of suppressing understeer when stepping on the throttle in mid-corner. Cornering in the RX was remarkable, as the car company’s new and intuitive Active Cornering Assist feature actively compensates for roll.

The redesigned shock absorbers are now equipped with a new Friction Control Device, which further reduces high-frequency vibrations, caused by small road imperfections.

The new Lexus RX comes equipped with the latest version of Lexus Safety System+, featuring advanced safety and accident prevention technologies. The Safety System+ main features include the Pre- Collision System, which uses an in-vehicle camera and front-grille-mounted millimeter-wave radar to help spot bicyclists during daytime and pedestrians during nighttime.

By combining Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC) with Lane Departure Assist (LDA), the RX makes it easier for the driver to stay in the lane. If the system detects a potential lane departure, LDA alerts the driver with a visual warning and either an audible alert or steering wheel vibration.

The automated safety systems also include the Adaptive High-beam System, which automatically reduces brightness in specific regions ahead of the car to avoid harshly illuminating oncoming vehicles or those in front of the vehicle.

While Lexus may employ a lot of cool safety technologies, it took effort to remember what all the initials stood for when scrolling through the car’s setup. There were times when we were confused between DRCC, LDA and a few other three- and four-letter abbreviations.

The Lexus RX350L in atomic silver

So what’s the verdict on the new Lexus RX350L? Well, it’s a great SUV that has three rows of seats. Granted, the third-row seats really aren’t meant for adults, but that still makes this car great for carting around large families and groups in both style and luxury.

With its nearly S$290,000 price tag, the car isn’t cheap by any means, but if you want luxury you usually have to pay a premium for it. Overall, the RX is sure to please both drivers and passengers alike.