A quick glimpse at Lexus’ improved infotainment experience
For many luxury SUV shoppers, the Lexus RX’ unconventional multimedia system has been a deal-breaker. The overly complicated and distracting touchpad interface could drive even the most tech-savvy of people to lose their minds. With the arrival of the refreshed 2020 Lexus RX, the infotainment system now has a touchscreen and smartphone integration. Have the changes paid off? At the crossover’s reveal, we were able to go hands-on with the updated interface. Here’s what we learned.
Using the touchpad is now optional
The touchpad (and the mouse-like interface that came before it) has been perhaps the most controversial part of the Lexus multimedia system. Widely criticized for its lack of intuitiveness and overly sensitive nature, the interface has been relegated to the bottom of the infotainment pack, especially when compared to units like FCA’s Uconnect system.
The addition of a touchscreen on the 2020 Lexus RX does much to improve the experience. After playing around with it, we learned the screen responds in a timely manner; you’re not waiting more than a few seconds for things to load. Consumers more familiar with touchscreen interfaces should appreciate how easy the new system is to use. There’s minimal lag, and it seems quick enough that it doesn’t complain if you input one too many commands all at once.
(Mostly) seamless integration of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
Smartphone integration is now one of the key multimedia tech features consumers look for, and the 2020 Lexus RX is the first model in the brand’s lineup to cater to both Apple and Android operating systems. Lexus had two cars at the event; one had Android Auto active, and the other had Apple CarPlay. Operating the apps through the new touchscreen feels more natural than using the touchpad, which is a hassle, especially on the move.
Apple CarPlay integrates surprisingly well with the massive 12.3-inch touchscreen and makes use of the available real estate in the display. Android Auto, on the other hand, uses only part of the screen, leaving plenty of space for other widgets. Until Google’s latest updates arrive this summer, Android users will need to deal with this layout for another month or so. When that comes out, the empty space will house a small window showing things like the song you’re playing on Spotify.
Same layout means some compromises
Based on our short time with the updated interface, we think there are a few more usability issues that need to be addressed. Lexus didn’t change the tiny icons to compensate for the added touchscreen functionality, which means you have to take your eyes off the road just a wee bit longer. Additionally, the whole layout hasn’t changed; there’s no home button, so you still need to use those buttons positioned just above the touchpad.
Despite these compromises, the updated multimedia system on the 2020 Lexus RX is a big step up. What we’ve seen hints at a less complicated setup that should be easier to adjust to, unlike the current system, which often makes it difficult to perform even simple functions.