Lexus RX 350 — A comfortable luxury hauler

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

(May 17, 2020) The Lexus RX was introduced in the U.S. 22 years ago and the trailblazing crossover is now in its fourth generation, growing from a compact size into a mid-sized vehicle. Although dozens of copycats have sprung up over the years, and the luxury market is now saturated with crossovers, the RX has been the segment sales leader since its inception. The current generation was introduced in 2016 as the RX 350, and a stretched model was added to the lineup in 2019 increasing its length by 4.4 inches to accommodate a third-row seat.

The current RX 350 features a modern interpretation of crossover styling with numerous creases and sharp edges making it visually attractive — with the exception of the big nose grille that all Lexus products now wear. We have grown used to the overall look after four years.

Lexus has made some mid-cycle changes to the RX for 2020. A light exterior freshening includes a revised spindle grille that has a more complex pattern than before, a redesigned front bumper with a bigger intake, new exterior colors, fresh wheel designs, and restyled LED headlights and taillights.

Perhaps the biggest improvements have come inside where there are now 8.0-inch and 12.3-inch touchscreens replacing the non-touchscreen displays. We found that the addition of the touch interface makes the RX's infotainment system much less frustrating to operate, but on the larger screen some of the icons are hard to reach from the driver's seat. And because there is no "home" button on the screen, the maddening touchpad on the center console still has to be used for some functions. And the new RX becomes the first Lexus model to get Android Auto capability in addition to Apple CarPlay.

While the RX 350 powertrains have remained the same, Lexus says it has retuned the suspension and stiffened the body structure to give a slightly sportier feel when driven around turns while still keeping ride comfort paramount. The F Sport's sport suspension — which previously resulted in a far harsher ride in exchange for minimal performance gains — has been modified as well.  


The Lexus retains the same engine and transmission combination since the fourth generation was introduced five years ago — a 3.5-liter V-6 making 295 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive optional. We found the performance adequate with shifts smooth and unobtrusive. For comparison purposes it can accomplish a 0-to-60 run in around 7 seconds. That is ample performance, but it seems more relaxed than its 7-second climb to 60 mph would indicate. Gas mileage for our AWD test vehicle is rated at 18 city, 26 highway and 22 combined.

The RX 350's greatest attributes are its extremely comfortable ride, its wonderfully quiet living space, its luxurious interior surroundings, and its outstanding available top-line audio systems. You’ll be greeted by Lexus’ handsome interior, lined in lustrous aluminum trim, gorgeous wood veneers, a French-stitched leather dash and door gussets, perforated leather seats, and an immense array of technological features.

Like all of the brand's 2020 models, the RX now features the Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 suite of features as standard, which adds bicyclist detection, lane centering, and road-sign assist. It has standard features such as automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, automatic high-beams, and lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist. Unfortunately, blind-spot monitoring — a feature that we think should be standard on all vehicle and certainly on a luxury product — and a 360-degree camera are among the RX's options. And is an incredibly expensive $1,865 add on.

The RX starts at $45,175 including a $1,025 destination charge for the base vehicle. Packages can be added including Premium, Luxury and Navigation. Numerous other options are also available. All-wheel drive is a $1,400 option. Standard equipment includes a power liftgate, tri-zone climate control, keyless ignition and entry, power-adjustable steering wheel, leather upholstery, drive-seat memory settings, rearview camera, adaptive cruise control, Bluetooth, an eight-inch display and a nine-speaker audio system.

Our test vehicle came with all-wheel drive and numerous options for a bottom line of $59,300. The most expensive options included the excellent-sounding Mark Levenson 15-speaker audio system plus 12.3-inch navigation for $3,365; the blindspot monitor with panoramic view, $1,865; triple beam LED headlamps with cornering lamps, $1,675; and panoramic moonroof, $1,850.

In addition to the standard RX, there are two optional F Sport packages — the first adds slightly different exterior and interior styling, Sport+ and Custom driving modes, and retuned adaptive dampers. The second package adds retuned steering, a cold-air intake, and fake engine noises piped through the stereo. Neither package, however, adds more horsepower and torque.

2020 Lexus RX 350


Base price: $45,175; as driven, $59,300
Engine: 3.5-liter V-6
Horsepower: 295 @ 6,300 rpm
Torque: 268 foot-pounds @ 4,700 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive: all-wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 109.8 inches
Length: 192.5 inches
Curb weight: 4,387 pounds
Turning circle: 38.8 feet
Luggage capacity: 18.4 cubic feet
Cargo capacity: 56.3 cubic feet
Towing capacity: 3,500 pounds
Fuel capacity: 19.2 gallons (regular)
EPA rating: 19 city, 26 highway, 22 combined
0-60: 7.0 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: Acura MDX, BMW X5, Lincoln Nautilus

The Good
• Attractive cabin with top-quality materials
• New touchscreen
• Excellent ride quality

The Bad
• Annoying infotainment controller

The Ugly
• Disappointing acceleration