As the market for luxury SUV’s has continued to expand, the consumer calls for both two and three row options at each level had gotten to a point that Lexus needed to be able to offer both options in the more expensive larger luxury LX 570 as well as the more moderately priced RX 350 in order to meet the competition.
Overall, we think they did a nice job of crafting a two-row option in the LX 570 for luxury level drivers who often do not need a three-row and developing a new three-row RX 350L option for families who are shopping for a more moderate priced premium SUV with seven-passenger room.
The new seven passenger RX 350L has a 4.3-inch longer body (at the rear) than the five passenger RX 350 for more legroom and, with a steeper tailgate window angle, Lexus says they have provided ‘good’ head room for third row passengers.
We took a look at the numbers and found the third-row headroom adequate at just under 35-inches. The legroom was certainly questionable at 23.5-inches – that is until Lexus shared with us that the second row is mounted slightly higher than the third, providing more foot room for those behind.
Exterior features of the RX 350L mimic the RX 350 and include the signature Lexus spindle grille with chrome surround and standard Bi-LED headlights. Premium LED headlight option features three L-shaped elements on each side. Blacked out C-pillars create the same floating roof effect found on other Lexus models. The signature look continues to the rear with L-Shaped LED taillights framing the tailgate. Standard wheels are 18-inch with 20-inch available.
On the inside, you will see the same premium touches found in the RX 350 including form-fitting seating, available wood accents and an available full-color Heads-Up Display. Also, standard is the Lexus Display Audio with eight-inch display screen, nine speakers, AUX jacks, USB ports and Remote Touch Interface.
An available Navigation Package upgrades to a 12-speaker premium audio and a 12.3-inch high resolution multi-media display with split screen capability.
The standard version of the three-row is seven-passenger with a second-row bench seat with slip and slide feature for access to the third row. A six-passenger configuration provide captain’s chairs in the second row in the second row. First and second row are leather trimmed. Third row passengers have their own A/C controls and cupholders. In front of the power liftgate, the third row is power fold down to flat providing cargo capacity of just over 23 cubic feet.
Also available is my favorite, the Mark Levinson 835-watt, 15-speaker Premium Surround System with Clari-Fi compressed music restoration technology. Already concert quality in the first and second row, we expect the third-row experience to be equally good.
Powering the RX 350L is the same as the RX 350, the 3.5L D-4S V6 with VVT-iW producing 290 horsepower with 263 lb.-ft. if torque. Performance is enhanced by an eight-speed automatic transmission and Drive Mode Select with three driving modes (Normal, Sport and Eco). The RX 350 also offers front-wheel drive (FWD) or the Lexus Dynamic Torque Control all-wheel drive (AWD).
Fuel economy is estimated at 19/26 mpg city/highway and 22 mpg combined for FWD with the AWD about one mpg less.
Delivering a responsive yet comfortable ride, the RX 350L is equipped with a MacPherson strut and coil springs front with a rear double wishbone with coil springs suspension rear, rack and pinion Electric Power Steering and 12.9-inch ventilated disc front with 13.3-inch ventilated disk brakes rear.
The 2018 Lexus RX 350L will have a starting MSRP of $47,670 for the FWD and $49,070 for the AWD and arrives at dealerships in January
As with the RX 350L, the RX 450hL comes in AWD only and is essentially the same vehicle as its two-row version the RX 450h.
As a three-row (or two-row) it is still hybrid powered by the 3.5L gasoline engine with two high torque electric drive motor-generators producing 308 total horsepower.
The standard AWD system – instead of using transfer gears and a drive shaft to the rear wheels like a RX 350 AWD, the RX450hL AWD uses independent rear-mounted electric motors to drive the rear wheels when needed.
The Drive Mode Select system on the RX450hL also has a fourth mode as compared to the RX 350 that enables the vehicle to run on full electric power – at low speed – for short distance.
Expected to arrive later in the year, pricing for the RX 450hL will be available closer to its launch.