Until 2018, when Americans bought a luxury-brand vehicle, they overwhelmingly chose the Lexus RX. Tesla unseated the popular midsize crossover SUV last year, selling more than 140,000 examples of its Model 3. The RX came in second among luxury nameplates at more than 110,000 sales.
Perhaps a freshening will help Lexus retake the luxury lead, and that’s exactly what the 2020 Lexus RX Hybrid gets. This is what’s new for the 2020 Lexus RX 450h:
- Updated front and rear styling
- New touchscreen infotainment display
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard
- Expanded application compatibility
- Improved voice recognition system
- Enhanced advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS)
- New exterior and interior colors
Subtle Styling and Dynamic Changes
Equipped with a 3.5-liter V6 engine and two electric motors powered by a battery pack, the Lexus RX 450h continues in 5-passenger and 7-passenger configurations (the latter is called the RX 450hL).
The 2020 version still makes 308 combined horsepower, gets a minimum of 29 mpg in combined driving, and can travel more than 500 miles on a single tank of gas, according to Lexus. By the automaker’s stopwatch, the RX 450hL accelerates to 60 mph in 7.9 seconds. Suspension changes for 2020 aim to improve the SUV’s ride and handling.
Though it looks much the same as it did before, the 2020 Lexus RX receives front and rear styling and lighting modifications to emphasize the company’s L-shaped design details. Updates include a restyled grille, headlights, taillights, wheels, and bumper covers. Moonbeam Beige and Nori Green Pearl are the new paint colors.
An F Sport option package remains available for the 5-passenger version of the RX Hybrid. It gets styling tweaks of its own, as well as next-generation Active Variable Suspension (AVS) technology from the flagship Lexus LC coupe.
Major Infotainment Upgrades for 2020
More important than the exterior refinements, the 2020 Lexus RX Hybrid gets a major infotainment system upgrade.
Both the standard 8-inch and the available 12.3-inch displays are now touchscreens, eliminating the need to use the finicky Lexus Remote Touch controls on the center console. Those change for 2020, too, the previous controller dropped in favor of the often more infuriating fingertip trackpad.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on all 2020 Lexus RX Hybrids. The new infotainment systems also support Spotify, Whats App, Waze, Alexa, Google Assistant, and other applications. Dynamic Voice Command also debuts, bringing a natural voice recognition experience to any Lexus RX with the larger 12.3-inch touchscreen display.
Depending on the model and option package you’ve selected, Birch is a newly available interior color. With the F Sport Package, Circuit Red is also new, complete with gray contrast stitching.
Enhanced Lexus Safety System Suite of ADAS
Enhanced for 2020, the Lexus Safety System+ collection of driver assistance and collision avoidance technologies gets a “2.0” appended to its name. Standard for all RX 450h models, Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 receives new cyclist detection, low-light pedestrian detection, and road sign recognition technologies.
Lane Tracing Assist is new, too, operational when the driver uses the adaptive cruise control system. By monitoring road markings, it automatically centers the RX in the lane of travel. When road markings are unavailable, Lexus says the technology can follow the vehicle ahead under certain conditions. You can use the cruise control without Lane Tracing Assist if you prefer.
Will the changes to the 2020 Lexus RX nudge sales closer to the Tesla Model 3? Perhaps, but given that electric car’s overwhelming popularity, it seems the only chance the RX has of regaining its sales crowd is a bankrupt Tesla. Or the new Tesla Model Y cannibalizing Model 3 sales.
In any case, the updates to the 2020 RX Hybrid resolve several complaints I’ve had with the SUV. No doubt, the changes make this vehicle better than ever.