UPDATE: Following the preliminary publishing of this overview, Lexus issued new cargo capability rankings for the 2018 RX L. “It was clear that our cargo measurements for the brand new RX L weren’t reflecting its true capabilities versus the competitors,” a Lexus spokesperson stated in an e-mail. “This is because of the truth that the unique RX L cargo measurements have been made utilizing the VDA measurement technique favored in Europe and Japan, not the SAE standard usually used within the US. With that in thoughts, we remeasured the RX L third row utilizing SAE requirements to make it simpler to make apples to apples comparisons.”
Utilizing SAE measurements, Lexus now charges the 2018 RX 350L as having 16.Three cubic toes of house behind the primary tow, 33.four behind the second row and 70.7 with all seats folded. This implies the RX L now bests the Acura MDX, in contrast within the textual content beneath, for behind-third-row and all-seats folded cargo house, although the Acura nonetheless wins within the behind-second-row spec. The brand new SAE measurements solely have an effect on cargo house, and never head- or legroom.
The overview textual content has been modified to mirror this replace.
There is not any denying the significance of the Lexus RX. Twenty years in the past, it pioneered the posh crossover SUV. And within the time since its inception, it is not solely grow to be Lexus’ best-selling nameplate, however the outright gross sales chief for all luxurious autos in america. That is an enormous ol’ mountain of laurels, one upon which Lexus appears joyful to relaxation.
However now, there’s an RX L, a stretched model of Lexus’ tried-and-true crossover with a 3rd row of seats within the again. It sounds nice in idea; Lexus sellers and clients have been asking for such a automobile for years. Sadly for them, the outcome is not fairly so candy.
By the numbers
Measuring 196.9 inches in size, the RX L is four.four inches longer than its five-passenger sibling. However because the two fashions share the usual RX’s 109.Eight-inch wheelbase, the added size is all located behind the C pillar. The L’s hatch has a extra upright rake to permit for extra rear headroom, however in any other case, it is precisely the identical as some other RX. Solely if you view it in profile do you discover the L’s added size. From each different angle, it is the identical spindly, closely creased RX you have seen in your native shopping center car parking zone since 2015. RX L pricing begins at $47,670 — or $49,zero70 for this Premium AWD tester — which is $four,400 greater than an equal five-passenger mannequin.
Factor is, the RX wasn’t initially designed to accommodate a 3rd row of seats. And since not one of the added size is discovered within the wheelbase, climbing again there’s form of a chore. The second row seats — both a bench or non-compulsory captain’s chairs — do slide ahead, which helps. However because the rear doorways weren’t initially formed with third-row ingress and egress in thoughts, you must duck your head and tilt your physique with the intention to entry the way-back. Climbing out is a equally inelegant course of.
As soon as again there, Lexus says there’s as a lot as 23.5 inches of third-row legroom. After all, that is provided that the second row is slid all the best way ahead, which is simply lifelike in day by day use in case your middle-row passengers are bereft of legs. With the second row in a comfortable-ish place, you are not going to suit anybody over the age of 10 within the far again, I promise.
Do you have to fill all three rows of seats with passengers, you will not have sufficient cargo house to hold all their belongings. With all three rows intact, the RX L presents 16.Three cubic toes of stowage. Fold the third row and cargo capability swells to 33.four cubic toes. With each again rows of seats folded, you are handled to a good 70.7 cubic toes.
Now, let’s examine all of this to a 2018 Acura MDX, which at $44,200, is without doubt one of the RX L’s closest opponents. The MDX boasts four.6 extra inches of obtainable third-row legroom and 5.7 inches of obtainable second-row legroom. That stated, the MDX solely packs 15.zero cubic toes of cargo house behind the third row, although its 38.four behind-second-row spec bests the Lexus. And earlier than you attempt to inform me the MDX is a bigger automobile than the RX L, it is really half-an-inch shorter in general size, and solely a tenth-of-an-inch taller. Its superior inside packaging is solely the results of the MDX being supposed for seven-passenger use proper from the beginning.
A Lexus at coronary heart
Packaging woes apart, the RX L’s cabin is beautiful. Up entrance, driver and passenger are met with an expansive view of the skin world, coddled in supremely comfy leather-based chairs. Each contact level is splendidly executed, from the fabric choice to the premium heft within the motion of every button and knob. It is not fairly Mercedes wealthy, however it’s Lexus quiet, and whether or not you are caught in metropolis site visitors or having fun with a protracted jaunt down a rustic street, the RX L supplies a serene setting for day by day driving.
The RX 350L makes use of the identical Three.5-liter V6 as the traditional RX 350, though curiously, it loses 5 horsepower and 5 pound-feet of torque within the transition. With decrease output rankings of 290 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque — to not point out a further 232 kilos — the RX 350L is barely much less energetic than the already sedate RX 350. Sprinting to 60 miles per hour takes Eight.1 seconds within the all-wheel-drive RX 350L, in comparison with 7.9 within the RX 350.
Each little bit of the RX L’s driving expertise is tuned for consolation above all. The Eight-speed computerized transmission shifts with imperceptible smoothness, and the steering is each mild in motion and usually devoid of suggestions. The chassis is equally tuned to offer an opulent trip high quality. Even when dialed into Sport mode, the RX 350L’s on-road character is that of a fantastic leather-based couch.
The added weight of the third row reduces gasoline consumption barely, and the EPA estimates you may see 19 mpg metropolis, 26 mpg freeway and 22 mpg mixed within the RX 350L, 1-mpg decreases over the usual RX 350. All-wheel-drive, a $1,400 possibility, lowers these numbers by a further 1 mpg throughout the board. For a little bit extra money, Lexus may also promote you a RX 450hL hybrid with commonplace all-wheel drive, and whereas gasoline financial system specs are nonetheless pending for that one, anticipate a small enchancment over the 350L’s numbers.
I commend Lexus for providing an enormous, 12.Three-inch infotainment show, and I really like its placement atop the RX’s dashboard. There’s plenty of performance constructed into this technique as properly, together with satellite tv for pc navigation. However that is the place my compliments finish.
The RX L makes use of Lexus’ older Distant Contact mouse-style controller, which is finicky to make use of, particularly whereas driving. You’ve got little doubt heard this one earlier than — it takes minor changes to get the mouse to hover over the a part of the show you need, and mixed with myriad pages and menus and submenus, it continually assessments my persistence. It is solely barely higher than Lexus’ new touchpad management, which is well the worst infotainment interface within the automotive house at present. There’s nothing inherently incorrect with the graphics or the structure of the completely different pages, however none of that issues when the human interface is a unending frustration.
It is also deeply irritating that, within the 12 months 2018, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are nonetheless absent from all new Lexus merchandise. Mum or dad firm Toyota is slowly fixing this downside, with Apple CarPlay quickly to be supplied in just a few of its 2019 fashions. At the least the RX nonetheless options bodily switchgear and dials for issues like quantity, local weather management and seat heaters (and coolers), as they’re simpler to make use of than screen-based options.
In case your automobile wants require the frequent use of three rows of seats, you are able to do rather a lot higher than the Lexus RX L. The aforementioned Acura MDX presents much more house and comparable high quality, as do the Buick Enclave and Infiniti QX60 — autos designed from the bottom up with seven-passenger seating in thoughts.
Take the RX L’s third row out of the equation, and you have a luxurious crossover that is as quiet, comfy and straightforward to drive as some other RX mannequin. However at that time, you are solely paying for a little bit extra cargo house behind the second row. Is four.6 cubic toes price $four,400 to you?