The 2018 Lexus RX L adds versatility with a new third row

The RX L has now space for more passengers and cargo.

2018 Lexus RX 350L
The 2018 Lexus RX 350L. –Lexus

The Lexus RX has traditionally been a five-passenger luxury crossover. It still is, but this year Lexus is introducing new RX L versions with a third row of seating and room for up to seven passengers. The RX 350L and RX 450hL hybrid are designed to appeal to the luxury crossover buyer who needs a bit more space but doesn’t want to move up to a full-size SUV.

The RX L is 4.3 inches longer to accommodate a third row, and it has a steeper tailgate window angle to make sure third-row passengers have plenty of headroom. These small changes allow a third row without sacrificing the vehicle’s compact and maneuverable footprint.

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The RX 350L has a standard 40/20/40 bench seat that’s comfortable, and it’s roomy enough for three adults. There’s no shortage of legroom or headroom, even for larger passengers. The trick with crossovers, however, is getting into the third row.

It can be a challenge for kids and even more so for adults. It’s made a little easier in the RX 350L, thanks to a lever that slides and folds the second row forward. This makes the entryway wide enough for an adult to easily climb all the way back without having to be a contortionist. If you only need room for six in your crossover, then there are second-row captain’s chairs as an option. These are standard on the RX 450hL hybrid model.

The third row is never the place where anyone wants to sit because it’s often an afterthought, as though the engineers made sure it would fit back there, but everyone completely forgot that human beings would actually sit in the seats. The design team at Lexus didn’t forget and instead strove to make the third row just as comfortable as the second.

Thoughtful touches include a slightly lifted second row that makes room for the toes of passengers in the back. If you’ve ever been stuck in a third row with your feet sideways because there was no space beneath the second-row seats for your toes, you’ll appreciate this feature. There is also tri-zone climate control with third-row vents and two third-row cupholders. When it’s cargo rather than passengers, the third-row power-folds flat to make the switch easy.

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The RX L is available as the 350L with a gas engine, or as the 450hL with a hybrid powertrain. We had the opportunity to drive the 350L, which is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine with 290 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque. This is paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The RX 350L is responsive and powerful with no hesitation when you step on the gas.

It’s also quiet, in keeping with its luxury car status. Road and wind noise are kept at bay even over rough surfaces. It’s easy to carry a conversation among all three rows of passengers. It’s a relaxing environment that keeps the outside world outside while you enjoy the company of friends and family.

When you need to carry along cargo, there’s 7.54 cubic feet behind the third row, 23.03 cubic feet behind the second row, and 58.48 cubic feet behind the first row. The load floor is flat, so it’s easy to slide in long objects. It’s also low, so there’s not much of a struggle to lift heavy cargo over the edge.

Crossovers continue to be the go-to cars for today’s buyers, so Lexus made the RX a more versatile and appealing option. You can still get the five-passenger RX if you prefer, but the new RX L provides additional flexibility for those who want a luxurious and powerful crossover with more room for passengers.

The Lexus RX 350L is priced from $47,670 with front-wheel drive, or $49,070 with all-wheel drive. The hybrid RX 450hL is available only with all-wheel drive and a starting price of $50,620. Both are available in dealerships now.