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Lexus RX 2020 review: 350L Sports Luxury

The Lexus RX 350L Sports Luxury is a stylish vehicle in the luxury seven seat SUV market.

The Lexus RX fits neatly into that slot where you don't really want to pay much over $100,000 for a seven-seater, but you want something that's more luxurious than the Mazdas, Hyundais and Kias on offer.

This Lexus RX 350L Sports Luxury competes with cars like the revamped Volkswagen Touareg and the Land Rover Discovery, in that they are beautiful cars without going OTT on the luxe factor. It's also competing with the BMW X5, Mercedes GLE and Audi Q7.

While the Lexus RX range starts at $71,920, this RX 350L Sports Luxury costs $101,600 plus on road costs. I drove it with my family of four over seven days for this week's family review.

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✅ How does it look?

The Lexus RX's exterior is modern and fresh and very different to the competitive set which is a good thing. There's no boxiness to this design like others in the category. It's very sleek and has a more pointed nose with tapered back angles. Even though it's a large car it looks sophisticated and stylish.

Inside is premium without being too over the top. There are quality finishes and trims throughout the car, with leather seats that are both heated and cooled, a digital dashboard, and well designed centre console area.

  • There’s no boxiness to this design like others in the category. (image: Dean McCartney) There’s no boxiness to this design like others in the category. (image: Dean McCartney)
  • Even though it’s a large car it looks sophisticated and stylish. (image: Dean McCartney) Even though it’s a large car it looks sophisticated and stylish. (image: Dean McCartney)

The steering wheel in this car is only partially covered in leather which, if you're a glass-half-full kind of person, will make you think it's keeping your hands in the right position for driving. I'm not a huge fan of the hard man-made material on the rest of the steering wheel however it does come in different finishes which look like they are a lot better than the one I tested.

This RX 350L Sports Luxury model comes with a sunroof and the interior of the car lights up at night which is always a hit with the kids.

  • Inside is premium without being too over the top. (image: Dean McCartney) Inside is premium without being too over the top. (image: Dean McCartney)
  • There are quality finishes and trims throughout the car, with leather seats that are both heated and cooled. (image: Dean McCartney) There are quality finishes and trims throughout the car, with leather seats that are both heated and cooled. (image: Dean McCartney)

✅ How spacious is it?

The interiors are very spacious, with generous legroom in the front and headroom that works for taller people even with the sunroof inclusion. There is ample space between the driver and front passenger so you don't feel cramped.

The middle row has plenty of space for children and adults alike. My two little ones are perfectly happy in here and you can also fit a third child seat in this row should you need to - always check with your own car seats, I did it with two boosters and a baby capsule. There is enough headroom back here for taller adults.

Into the third row and it’s quite roomy, made more so because you can adjust the middle row to go further forward, giving the third row more legroom. (image: Dean McCartney) Into the third row and it’s quite roomy, made more so because you can adjust the middle row to go further forward, giving the third row more legroom. (image: Dean McCartney)

Into the third row and it's quite roomy, made more so because you can adjust the middle row to go further forward, giving the third row more legroom. It's never going to be super comfortable for tall adults but that's generally the case with most seven seaters. Kids will fit perfectly fine and they love sitting back there, furthest away from the parents!

The boot for a seven seat configuration of the RX 350L is a decent 176 litres when all seats are in use, and a large 591L when the back row is down flat. You'll be able to fit a large double pram in there, plus groceries and school bags.

  • The boot for a seven seat configuration of the RX 350L is a decent 176 litres when all seats are in use. (image: Dean McCartney) The boot for a seven seat configuration of the RX 350L is a decent 176 litres when all seats are in use. (image: Dean McCartney)
  • Boot space is a large 591L when the back row is down flat. (image: Dean McCartney) Boot space is a large 591L when the back row is down flat. (image: Dean McCartney)
  • You’ll be able to fit a large double pram in there, plus groceries and school bags. (image: Dean McCartney) You’ll be able to fit a large double pram in there, plus groceries and school bags. (image: Dean McCartney)

✅ How does it drive?

I really enjoyed driving the RX 350L Sports Luxury. It's smooth, quick off the mark and doesn't feel heavy which is refreshing for a car of this size. This model has a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine which gets the car up hills quickly though I didn't drive it with a full load. It coasts along highways beautifully and I feel confident driving it on the road.

It's all-wheel drive (AWD) which means it has better traction on slippery or loose road surfaces like in the wet, or dirt/gravel/snow. Like most of the others in this category it's not a serious 4WD off-roader.

Parking is good once you get your head around the size of the car. It's not too difficult as the steering wheel turns easily, there's no major struggle squeezing into a park. You get a reverse parking camera and a 360-degree surround view camera which are clear and high res.

This model has a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine which gets the car up hills quickly though I didn’t drive it with a full load. (image: Dean McCartney) This model has a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine which gets the car up hills quickly though I didn’t drive it with a full load. (image: Dean McCartney)

✅ How easy is it to use every day?

One of my favourite features is that the car will remember your driving seat position and automatically slide into it. It really makes a difference when constantly swapping drivers with a much taller person.

Both front seats are power adjustable, heated and ventilated for cooling. The third row also goes up and down electronically by way of a button from the boot - make sure both seats are all the way down or the car will beep incessantly and you won't know what is wrong. You're welcome. The tailgate is also power operated.

I really enjoyed driving the RX 350L Sports Luxury. It’s smooth, quick off the mark and doesn’t feel heavy which is refreshing for a car of this size. (image: Dean McCartney) I really enjoyed driving the RX 350L Sports Luxury. It’s smooth, quick off the mark and doesn’t feel heavy which is refreshing for a car of this size. (image: Dean McCartney)

There are two cupholders in the front, a spot for keys and a phone, a centre storage bin and bottle holders in the doors that pop open a little should your bottle be extra wide. I found the storage in here very useful this week.

The second row gets its own climate control, plus two cupholders in the centre armrest. Third row passengers also have air vents and two cupholders.

✅ What's the tech like?

The Lexus RX 2020 range has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto across the line-up, along with a 12.3inch touchscreen which is a major improvement over the fiddly touchpad down on the centre console. Though I am better at using now, it's still not the technology you want to be using in 2020 and thankfully you don't have to anymore. The sound is great in here, turn the volume up.

Though I am better at using fiddly touchpad down on the centre console now, it’s still not the technology you want to be using in 2020 and thankfully you don’t have to anymore. (image: Dean McCartney) Though I am better at using fiddly touchpad down on the centre console now, it’s still not the technology you want to be using in 2020 and thankfully you don’t have to anymore. (image: Dean McCartney)

✅ How safe is it?

There's a pre-collision warning system plus auto emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian and cyclist detection, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, active cruise control, lane tracing assist which incorporates lane departure warning and lane centring to keep you drifting from the middle of your lane.

You'll get 10 airbags which includes curtain airbags that extend to the back row and also side airbags for the middle row, which are not common but having them there makes me feel extra safe with my kids in the back.

There are two ISOFIX points and three top tether points in the middle row and you get an extra tether point in the third row. The RX350 scores a full five ANCAP stars (based on 2015 testing).

The Lexus RX 350L Sports Luxury costs $101,600 before on-road costs. (image: Dean McCartney) The Lexus RX 350L Sports Luxury costs $101,600 before on-road costs. (image: Dean McCartney)

✅ How much does it cost to own?

The Lexus RX 350L Sports Luxury costs $101,600 before on-road costs. Fuel consumption comes in at 10.2L/100km which is high because it's a petrol engine, not a diesel or hybrid. However on the week I used it, my fuel consumption was 9.4L/100km, probably due to the high amount of highway driving I did that week.

It's covered by Lexus' four year/unlimited km warranty which is a step up from some other luxury car companies who still offer three years. Servicing is required every 12 months/15,000kms.


The Wrap

I found the Lexus RX 350L Sports Luxury a beautiful car to drive this week and even preferred it to some of its more expensive German rivals.

It drives well and doesn't feel heavy, looks fabulous and feels luxurious without heading into seriously over the top pricing. The one thing that used to be Lexus' downfall - the tech - has now been improved with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto plus a touchscreen and makes this a much more buyable car. And the safety is great for a family.

I gave it a family rating of 8.2 out of 10 and my kids gave it the same. They liked hanging out in the third row.

Likes

Exterior design
Comprehensive safety
Improved tech

Dislikes

No diesel or plug in hybrid option

Scores

Nedahl:

4.1

The Kids:

4.1

$101,600

Based on new car retail price

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