One of Lexus' most popular vehicles, the RX, just got bigger. That's true literally — the new 2018 Lexus RX L is a longer, extended-wheelbase version of the brand's midsize crossover SUV — but it's no doubt true from a sales standpoint, too. Previously, the only three-row SUVs Lexus offered were its truck-based LX 570 and GX 460. Now Lexus has a three-row crossover SUV to entice shoppers who would have otherwise bought vehicles such as the Audi Q7, Acura MDX and Infiniti QX60.
From bumper to bumper, the RX L is 4.3 inches longer than the standard RX. That extra length has freed up enough space for Lexus to add a third row of seating and increase passenger capacity to either six or seven, depending on seating configuration. The rest of RX L is pretty much unchanged, though Lexus did give it a more upright rear liftgate design to allow for more interior headroom for third-row passengers.
Lexus admits that the third-row seat is meant primarily for children up to junior-high age. We've tried sitting in the way back, and indeed adults are going to find it uncomfortable. Step-through access to the third row is a little tight, too. Still, most crossover SUV buyers use their vehicle's third-row seat for kids, so the RX L should be suitably useful.
As with the standard RX, there are two versions: the RX 350L and the RX 450hL. The 350's 3.5-liter V6 checks in with 290 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque (5 hp and 5 lb-ft less than the standard RX), while the 450hL hybrid's combination of a 3.5-liter V6 with two electric motors is good for a total of 308 hp (the same as the standard RX 450h). We're particularly interested in the 450hL as it should provide excellent fuel economy for a three-row crossover.
Starting prices for the RX 350L will be $47,670 for the front-wheel-drive version and $49,070 for the all-wheel-drive. This is a price increase of $4,450 over the standard 2017 RX for both the FWD and AWD models. RX L features include a power-folding third row (it folds completely flat), three-zone climate control, and all of the safety equipment you'll find on the standard RX including forward collision warning and mitigation and lane departure warning and intervention. Blind-spot monitoring and a surround-view camera are optional, as are a head-up display, a navigation system with a 12.3-inch display, and a 15-speaker Mark Levinson sound system.
In general, we're fans of the standard Lexus RX and we're looking forward to the RX L's arrival. If the RX L shares the RX's carlike driving experience and upscale demeanor, it will likely debut as a class leader. Look for it at Lexus dealerships by the end of 2017.