Lexus first introduced the RX in 1998. The luxury SUV crossover was an instant hit and, over its 20-year life span, its popularity has never waned. It has been the best-selling midsize luxury SUV in the U.S. each year with annual sales hovering around 100,000 units and last year, it was the U.S best-selling luxury vehicle, period.
Despite its incredible popularity, the one knock against the RX has been that, unlike many of its competitors, it has never offered third-row seating. That changes in 2018 with the introduction of the RX 350L.
Though the wheelbase is identical to a standard RX and alterations to the exterior are largely unnoticeable (except for a steeper sloping rear lift gate that creates more head room for third-row seating occupants), the L model adds 4.3 inches to the rear portion of the vehicle in order to create a third row of seating. The end result is an SUV that possesses the same car-like ride quality, surprisingly stable handling manners and movie star good looks, with the added functionality of additional seating capacity. With the standard second-row bench seating, the RX 350L seats seven and six with optional second-row captain seats. The power-folding third row seats are easily folded flat with the push of a button, creating a spacious rear cargo area.
While the additional seating has garnered a lot of attention in the automotive world, it’s the quality, execution and attention to detail of the interior that make a Lexus special, and that is not lost on the RX 350L. From the soft, yet supportive leather seats and the cushioned leather-wrapped steering wheel, to the beautifully sculpted wood console and three-zone climate control, Lexus leaves no stone unturned in its effort to make the driving experience comfortable, aesthetically pleasing and stress-free.
Other standard luxury features include heated front and rear seats, ventilated front seats, power moon roof and LED-illuminated door sills.
My test model came with several options, such as a massive 12.3-inch infotainment screen that can easily display multiple programs without sacrificing readability, touch-free power lift gate and a sweet-sounding Mark Levinson 15-speaker premium sound system.
Safetywise, the RX comes equipped with a total of 10 air bags, pedestrian detection, all-speed dynamic radar cruise control, intelligent high-beam headlights and lane departure alert and assist.
The RX 350L is powered by a 3.5 liter, 24-valve V-6 engine that delivers a more-than-adequate 290 horsepower. The eight-speed automatic transmission provides smooth acceleration and a respectable 26 highway miles per gallon. There is also an RX 450hL available that puts out 308 horsepower and gets more than 30 mpg combined city and highway.
The Lexus RX has dominated the luxury SUV category for two decades and, with the introduction of the RX 350L and its third-row seating, it would appear that trend will continue for years to come.