Behind the Wheel

2020 Lexus RX 350 F-Sport Review: Refined, responsive, and hampered by its infotainment technology

The stance and fascia of the model make it more crossover-like and harkens back to original RX design.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

There is no shortage of SUVs for buyers to choose from. When it comes to luxury vehicles the market is split between sport-centric engaging models and more typical family haulers. As mass market SUVs become more premium and offer advanced technology and high-quality interiors, the cost of going all-in on a luxury model might make buyers question if it's worth it.

The revisions to the 2020 Lexus RX 350 are made to persuade customers that a $50,000 luxury model is still the right way to go. But are the changes enough?

2020 Lexus RX 350 F-Sport Revisions to the car's front end have helped with its much-derided looks.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

The exterior of the RX has gotten refreshed to make it less hand vacuum-y and more crossover. That's not a bad thing. It's now more attractive than before though that's not really saying much. This isn't exactly the sales segment for sexy design.

Lexus has improved the model's stability on the road, steering responsiveness, and ride quality. The SUV is a better drive than before though still not in the same room as the conversation being had by Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz models. Its all-wheel drive helped the all-season shoes stick to dry roads with ease.

The RX 350 continues to prove easy to steer and a breeze to park though its A-pillar hampers visibility during turns. That's not an uncommon complaint of SUV drivers regarding a number of models.

The wheel feels good in-hand, but the wheel itself is a bit fat. The car's heated steering wheel feature only warms small sections of the wheel at three- and six o'clock, which is disappointing.

2020 Lexus RX 350 F-Sport The steering wheel of the model is fatter than what one may expect from the SUV.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Lexus did not update the powertrain of the model as part of the refresh. It still has a 3.5-liter V6 under the hood that delivers a competent 295 horsepower in the 350 F-Sport grade and is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The powertrain feels more responsive in this edition than it did in the last. The SUV gets 23 mpg combined, which isn't ideal, but not terrible.

The interior of the RX 350 F-Sport tester featured the new Circuit Red color throughout that garnered several compliments by passengers and passersby during the week-long test drive. The red-covered seats were comfortable, even on extended trips. Four adults easily fit in the two-row SUV.

Still, the overall Lexus drive and ride experience is hampered by the SUV's infotainment system. Lexus wins points for moving its available 12.3-inch screen 5.5 inches closer to front seat occupants. Despite spending a week behind the wheel, it was just easier to not deal with the infotainment system rather than use the awkward touch pad to plug in addresses for navigation and change the radio system.

2020 Lexus RX 350 F-Sport Some design elements of the RX are outdated, like the cell phone holder.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

The Lexus now comes with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Amazon Alexa compatibility but during the test drive, despite several attempts with different cords and a variety of iPhones, the system never worked with the phones.

There are some design elements that are outdated. Its heated/ventilated seat controls appear from a lower-class parts bin while the slot cell-phone holder is from a small period of design history that is best left behind.

As tested, the RX came with a number of safety technologies that are part of the Lexus Safety Suite. None of the included features of the Safety Suite are obtrusive or annoying in their employment.

2020 Lexus RX 350 F-Sport This car has the new Circuit Red upholstery throughout the cabin.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

The tested 2020 Lexus RX 350 F-Sport has a starting price tag of $47,950.

The Lexus RX 350's closest competition is the Infiniti QX50. Its bests that model by a large margin. With the Nissan Murano getting a bit long in the tooth and Chevrolet Blazer coming in around the same price as the RX with less premium appointments, it's easy to make the argument that the RX is the right model for many buyers.

Still, it faces stiff competition from the spunkier and more agile Acura RDX, which easily earns top accolades for SUVs at this price point and size.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The new package gives the three-row SUV a more assertive look.

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Kia Telluride buyers will soon have one more option box they can check when ordering their three-row SUV. The company announced a new Nightfall Edition package that equips the model with black features, including wheels.

The 2021 Kia Telluride Nightfall Edition package is available on Telluride EX AWD (with Premium Package), SX AWD, and SX Prestige models covered in Snow White Pearl, Everlasting Silver, Gravity Gray, Ebony Black, Sangria, Black Copper, Dark Moss, or the new Wolf Gray paint job. Wolf Gray is only available to models equipped with the Nightfall Edition package.

The package only includes exterior elements. Its product list features a newly designed radiator grille with a black finish and 20-inch black-finished wheels with black lug nuts and center caps, which are Nightfall Edition exclusives. It also has gloss black roof rails, greenhouse trim, lower door side molding, skid plates, front bumper side air-duct garnish, and badging. The SUV's LED headlights and fog lights feature a black inner bezel (not available on EX) and body-colored door handles (already standard on EX).

"The Telluride Nightfall Edition offers a new choice to our customers who prefer a more assertive and premium look to their family hauler or weekend adventurer," said Sean Yoon, President & CEO, Kia Motors America, Kia Motors North America. "Our biggest and boldest offering's already lofty appeal elevates with the addition of this special package."

The 2021 Telluride Nightfall Edition will arrive in showrooms beginning in the second half of the year. Pricing has not yet been announced.

The SUV is made in West Point, Georgia alongside the Sorento, which was redesigned for 2021, and Optima, which has been renamed and redesigned for the new model year.

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The Ford Bronco is back.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The debut of the 2021 Ford Bronco family of SUVs is perhaps the most anticipated vehicle launch in the last decade. Maybe longer. Now, the wait is over.

The 2021 Ford Bronco will come in three variants. There's the two- and four-door Bronco and the four-door Bronco Sport. The Bronco models feature body lines and attributes most similar to the original Broncos while the Bronco Sport is a lifestyle-focused off-road capable model.

Ford's design team has given the Bronco, more so than the Bronco Sport, a look that balances heritage and modernity equally. While there's always enthusiasts who will be disappointed, it's hard to find too much fault with the translation.

Two- and Four-Door 2021 Ford Bronco

The two- and four-door Bronco 4x4 comes standard with a turbocharged 2.3-liter engine that achieves 270 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a standard seven-speed automatic transmission (six traditional gears and one crawler gear). A 10-speed automatic is available.

2021 Ford Bronco The models can have their doors and roof removed.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Buyers can upgrade to a turbocharged 2.7-liter V6 that gets 310 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque.

The two-door has a 100.4-inch wheelbase and the four-door comes in at 116.1 inches. Under the body are Dana 44-inch AdvanTEX axles and locking differentials at the front and back. Length varies slightly by trim level, as does height.

Part-time selectable engagement 4x4 capability comes standard. Advanced 4x4 with automatic, on-demand 4H engagement is available. Technology allows for electronic shift-on-the-fly capability.

Ford has equipped the models with up to seven G.O.A.T. Modes, via the Terrain Management System. The drive modes allow drivers to have confidence in the capability of their vehicle and take advantage of some technology while they're at it. The modes are Normal, Sport, Slippery, Sand, Baja, Mud/Ruts, and Rock Crawl.

2021 Ford Bronco The Bronco and Bronco Sport come with G.O.A.T. Modes.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Two-door Broncos come standard with a three-section roof system that's removable. A four-section removable roof is available. Roof panels are able to be removed by one person and stored in the vehicle.

A cloth top is standard on four-door models. A removable hardtop is available.

The two-door has a base ground clearance of 8.4 inches and up to 11.6 inches of clearance. The four-door has one-tenth inch less ground clearance.

It rides on wheels ranging from 16- to 18-inches, depending on trim level. Tires ranging from 30 to 35 inches are standard issue, supplied by Bridgestone, General Tire, BF Goodrich, and Goodyear.

2021 Ford Bronco The 2021 Ford Bronco can be optioned up to look bug-out ready.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

All models have a 3,500-pound towing capacity. Trail sights on the front fenders allow for up to 150 pounds of tie-down capacity.

Buyers will have access to over 200 factory-backed accessories at launch when the vehicles arrive in dealership in the spring.

The interior of the Bronco is available with rinse-out and drainage solutions. It's home to a classic dashboard that features up to a 12-inch, SYNC 4-run infotainment touch screen. More than 1,000 trail maps are available through the screen's trail guides system. Content can be created and shared with friends via on-screen functionality.

The 2021 Ford Bronco starts at $29,995 and comes in Base, Big Bed, Black Diamond, Outer Banks, Wildtrak, Badlands, and First Edition trim levels.

2021 Ford Bronco The interior of the Bronco holds true to its heritage, with refined, modern touches.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

2021 Ford Bronco Sport

Built alongside the Ford Escape, the 2021 Bronco Sport is very different than the hot-selling SUV. It has a completely different look inside and out, and a different wheelbase. Though still rugged, the Bronco Sport isn't as capable as its two- and four-door family members. However, its thoughtful innovations are smart ways to win over adventurers.

Ford will sell the Bronco Sport in Base, Big Bend, Outer Banks, Badlands, and First Edition trim levels. Reservations are open now and the vehicles will arrive at dealerships later this year.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport Ford will make over 100 accessories available for the Bronco Sport when it arrives at dealerships nationwide later this year.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Bronco Sport comes standard with a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine that gets 181 horsepower and 190 pound-feet of torque. An upgraded 2.0-liter EcoBoost is available that yields 245 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque. Both engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Like the Bronco, the Bronco Sport has a Terrain Management System with up to seven available G.O.A.T. Modes. In its top Badlands grade, the model features four steel bash plates, frame-mounted tow hooks, and up to 23.6 inches of water fording capability. The small SUV is no slouch.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport The Bronco Sport is capable of some serious off-roading.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The five-seater has best-in-class first- and second-row headroom. Folding down the rear seats allows enough room for two standing 27.5-inch wheel mountain bikes to be stowed on an interior Yakima bike accessory rack. A slide-out working table is available as well as a 400-watt inverter, and liftgate floodlamps.

A flip-glass rear window, low-load cargo floor, and roof rack are designed to make life on the trail easier. Bronco Sport will launch with over 100 available accessories.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport Large mountain bikes fit in the cargo area of the model.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford is giving every Bronco Sport an 8.0-inch infotainment touch screen display that features the SYNC 3 operating system and has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability.

The Ford Co-Pilot360 suite of driver assist and safety technology is standard across the lineup.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport The interior of the Bronco Sport is more refined than the Bronco's.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport starts at $28,115.

Find out more

You can find out more about the trim levels, color options, off-road prowess, and history of the Ford Bronco and Bronco Sport by growing AutomotiveMap's laundry list of Bronco family premier coverage.

The competition

The three-model debut has already begun to draw comparisons between the Jeep Wrangler and the Ford Bronco. We sorted it out here.

Jeep tried to take a bite out of Bronco's big debut with a large horsepower announcement of their own. Read more here.

Reserve yours today

You can reserve yours now for just $100. Find out more here.

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