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Quick Drive: 2020 Lexus RX 350L Luxury

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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

Year: 2020
Make: Lexus
Model: RX
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

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Nice review and the 3rd row issue perfectly illustrates why CUVs with sloping rooflines will almost always have jack squat for head room. It also clearly doesn't help when the legroom is horrible but that is something that is all too common with just about any CUV/SUV that isn't a full size. My Flex has a decent 3rd row and certainly more headroom than the Lexus but I have only had short teenagers back there (with no complaints mind you) so I'm sure the leg room would not be all that great for the long legged types. There is just only so much room you can get out of smaller size vehicles. Lexus was better off leaving off the 3rd row out of the RX and just selling it on the additional cargo room the longer version gets you.

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Lexus should have done what GM did for the last 15 years: have a dedicated three-row luxury crossover.  Think about it: Lexus already has the NX and the UX crossovers.  Why not have a real three-row crossover to complement the two-row RX?  I have no idea why Lexus made the mistake of creating the RX350L when a separate model would do a lot better.  If Cadillac can have an XT6 AND the Escalade, why can't Lexus?

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Toyota/Lexus leave product on market for a long time, and have a slow development time also.  This helps with their reliability and reputation for quality, and thus their resale value.  But where it hurts is having stuff like the Tundra without a major redesign since 2007, the Lexus GX hasn't had a big redesign since the day dirt was created, and Lexus hasn't come up with a real 3-row crossover when every other car company has them.  They have the trucky LX570, but that is dated as can be and not competitive and they said they are killing the Land Cruiser, so that kills the LX off too.

$63k for a Camry V6 powered RX is ridiculous, better to get a German product.  I've rode in a current gen RX before, you can feel and hear the Camry-ness coming from the engine, transmission and suspension.  It just isn't as refined as a Lexus should be.

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