Lexus was among the first automakers to produce crossovers starting with the RX which hit dealerships in 1999; despite this, the automaker has never hooked up the model with the third row of seats like many of its competitors have been doing. However, after realizing that more and more buyers are looking for 3-row crossovers and SUVs, Lexus has finally given the RX a third-row seats treatment. According to Autodata, 63% of motor vehicles in 2016 sales in the US were crossovers and SUVs. The new 3-row crossover is known as the 2018 Lexus RX L and is targeted to buyers with large families who do not consider a minivan as a suitable option for their class.
2018 Lexus RX L Exterior and Interior
To accommodate the third row of seats, Lexus engineers stretched out the length of the crossover by 4.3 inches. In addition, unlike on the 2-row crossover where the tailgate is almost flat, on the RX L, the tailgate is steeper to enhance headroom as well as cargo space. The model, however, rides on the same wheelbase as its 2-row sister (109.8-inch wheelbase). Except for the redesigned tailgate and longer length, style-wise, the RX L is identical to the RX; in fact, due to excellent finishing, the extra size is not easily noticeable.
Both trims get a 40/20/40 split-folding bench seat for the third row. All RX 350L models come with a 7-seat configuration as standard but buyers can pay extra cash for second-row captain’s chairs reducing the configuration to 6 seats as the third-row seat accommodates only 2 passengers. Hybrid models will be available with second-row captain’s chairs as standard. Although Lexus claims that the third-row seats have the same comfort levels as second-row seats, they are a bit uncomfortable for grown passengers due to constrained legroom. Captain’s chairs ease access to the third-row seats as they leave a space in the middle.
As said earlier, the RX L shares other components and features of the regular RX including 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, a rearview camera, keyless entry and start, leather upholstery, powered tailgate, 3-zone climate control among others. A 15-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, a navigation system hosted in a 12.3-inch display screen, a head-up display, touch-pad controls, heated and ventilated front seats, a 360-degree camera network, heated steering wheel and 20-inch alloy wheels are optional. The Lexus Enform Remote app that supports Android and iOS smartphones is also available.
Like the current RX, the RX L also features the Lexus Safety System + as a standard for all models. This suite offers automatic high beams, Pre-Collision system featuring pedestrian detection, lane keep assist supported by steering assist and adaptive cruise control. Blind-spot warning integrated with rear cross-traffic alert is optional.
Engine and performance
The new 3-row Lexus crossover can either be had with a traditional combustion engine or a hybrid unit like its 2-row sister. The conventional engine which is also the less powerful of the two engines is a 3.5 L V-6 rated at 290 horsepower as well as 263 lb-ft of torque. The engine powers the RX 350 L trim. The hybrid drive-train that powers the RX 450hL comprises the same 3.5 L, V-6 but here it is paired with 2 electric motors. Extra “juice” is stored in a nickel-metal hydride battery pack. This power-train produces 308 horsepower.
The conventional power-train uses an 8-speed automatic gearbox and front-wheel drive as standard. All-wheel drive is available for an extra $1,400. The RX 450hL, on the other hand, uses a CVT system and all-wheel drive is standard. The crossover features Normal, Eco as well as Sport driving modes for the RX 350L with RX 450hL adding an EV mode.
Price and release date
The new 2018 Lexus RX L three-row crossover is as you would expect more expensive than the 2-row model; the RX 350L carries a price of $48,665 for front-wheel drive models and $50,065 for all-wheel-drive models. These prices are inclusive of a $995 destination fee. This pricing means the three-row crossover is $4,450more expensive than the two-row model. Lexus, however, did not announce pricing of the hybrid trim. Sales of the 2018 Lexus RX L will start next year.
The 3-row 2018 Lexus RX L will enable Lexus to compete more reasonably with models such as Audi Q7, Acura MDX and Infiniti QX60 which all have 3-row models.