Despite being one of the best sellers in the luxury crossover class, the Lexus RX lacked something many competitors offered; a third-row option. Lexus rectified this a couple of years ago by stretching the RX's body and adding a third-row to create the RX L. I spent some time in the RX 350L Luxury back in the fall to find out if Lexus has another winner or if this a half-baked attempt.
You can tell the difference between the standard RX to the longer L by looking for a floating roofline treatment. This is due to Lexus blacking part of the c-pillar to help disguise the added bulk. It doesn't fully work as looks somewhat half-baked.
At least Lexus was more successful upfront where non F-Sport models get a new mesh insert to replace the horizontal slats, along with a revised bumper.
When equipped with the Luxury Package, the RX is a plush and pleasant place to spend time. The leather upholstery feels nice to the touch and the use of contrasting colors (cream and brown in my tester) help make it feel special.
Lexus has finally added a touchscreen for the RX's infotainment and it makes a huge difference. Gone are the litany of issues I have noted in previous models such as,
Being precise with your finger movements when selecting an item
Becoming very distracting to use when on the move
Not the most intuitive controller
Now using Lexus Enform or Apple CarPlay/Android Auto is not an exercise in frustration, but one of ease. My only complaint is that I wished Lexus moved the screen slightly more forwards. It is quite a reach to use the touchscreen.
Those sitting in the second row will not have much to complain about as head and legroom are plentiful for most passengers. The same cannot be said for the third-row. Getting back here is difficult as there is not enough a gap when the second-row seat is moved forward. Once back here, space is non-existent with your head touching the headliner and legroom from nothing to something bearable depending on where the second-row is set.
The one upside to the longer RX is cargo space. With the third-row seat folded, you get about seven extra cubic feet of space compared to standard RX.
Power comes from a 3.5L V6 used in several Lexus and Toyota vehicles. For the RX 350L, it produces 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. My tester came with all-wheel drive, but front-wheel drive is standard.
Performance is adequate as you'll be able to keep up with traffic or make a pass with no issue. Those wanting a bit more performance should look at something like the upcoming Acura MDX or Volvo XC90.
Comfort is still a key hallmark to the RX. Bumps and potholes become mere ripples when driven over. There is also a noticeable lack of road and wind coming inside.
The RX 350L feels like a stop-gap solution until Lexus finishes up their upcoming three-row crossover due out within the next couple of years. The third-row isn't all useful for carrying passengers and is best to fold down to expand cargo space. If you need a third-row, there are much better options such as the Volvo XC90.
But if you really want an RX, stick with the standard two-row version and pocket the cash you saved for something nice.
Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the RX 350L, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
Trim: 350L Luxury
Engine: 3.5L DOHC 24-valve with VVT-iW V6
Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 290 @ 6,300
Torque @ RPM: 263 @ 4,700
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/25/21
Curb Weight: 4,597 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Miyawaka, Fukuoka, Japan
Base Price: $54,700
As Tested Price: $63,540 (Includes $1,025.00 Destination Charge)
12.3" Navigation System/Mark Levinson 15-Speaker Premium Audio System - $3,365.00
Blind Spot Monitor with Intuitive Parking Assist, Panoramic View Monitor, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert Braking - $1,865.00
Running Boards - $640.00
Color Head-Up Display - $600.00
Second-Row Captain's Chairs - $405.00
All-Weather Floor Liners with Cargo Mat - $330.00
Cold Weather Package - $315.00
Mudguards - $155.00
Door Edge Guards - $140.00