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the lexus rx goes under the knife for 2020, getting an updated front and rear fascia and some new interior tech. notably, the entire lexus rx range will receive cosmetic and equipment updates, including the extended-wheelbase rx 350l model reviewed here. lexus hasn't totally reworked the rx, though; it has just tweaked it in the hopes of keeping it fresh.
the rxl is the three-row, long-wheelbase version of the midsize lexus rx. the rx 350l rides on the same wheelbase as the standard-wheelbase model, but from bumper to bumper it's 4.5 inches longer. that means the addition of a third row is standard, raising seating capacity to seven. both the standard-wheelbase model and the rx 350l come with a 3.5-liter v6 that puts out 295 horsepower. there's also a hybrid version (the rx 450hl) that offers much higher fuel economy and a bit more power; that model is reviewed separately.
a new front and rear fascia and new standard 18-inch wheels highlight the 2020 rx's new looks. the grille and headlights have been smoothed out a bit, making the front end a bit less aggressive and more elegant in the process. underneath, the rx gets new front and rear stabilizer bars, new suspension bushings, upgraded dampers, and tweaked tuning for the shock absorbers. lexus' intention with these changes is to improve steering response, reduce body roll and further mitigate impacts before they make their way into the cabin.
tech and safety updates include standard apple carplay and android auto compatibility — both are all-new for the rx and android auto is a first on any lexus — as well as what lexus calls "safety system+ 2.0," which packages together features such as daytime bicyclist detection, low-light pedestrian detection, lane keeping assist and adaptive cruise control. the optional 12.3-inch screen, once controlled by lexus' center-console touchpad only, is now also a touchscreen, and it's been moved 5.4 inches closer to the driver. this should make lexus' previously frustrating infotainment system a bit easier to use. all these are changes in addition to already standard features such as a power liftgate, dual-zone automatic climate control, forward collision warning and mitigation, bluetooth and a nine-speaker sound system.
the rx 350l faces more and more competition every year. new three-row midsize luxury suvs are popping up all the time, each with its own unique set of skills. the audi q7 and the volvo xc90 are strong rivals that present top-notch interior quality along with significantly more rear legroom than the lexus rx 350l, in both the second and third rows. the acura mdx also offers more passenger space in the second and third rows, along with the lowest starting price of the bunch.
with production slated to start in the third quarter of 2019, we expect to see the 2020 lexus rx 350l on dealer lots in fall 2019.
the 2020 lexus rx 350l gets some updated looks and added tech, sure, but it's not our favorite in the class. rivals offer more space in the third row and easier-to-use infotainment systems. if you only need the third row for occasional use, though, the rx 350l is definitely a comfortable suv that's worth taking for a test drive.