2018 Lexus RX L Delivers Third-row Seating, New LX Cargo Variant Removes It

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
2018 lexus rx l delivers third row seating new lx cargo variant removes it

One of the biggest gripes when it comes to crossovers is that they swept in to replace minivans without offering much in the way of utility. Traditional SUVs are boxy behemoths, capable of holding as many children as you can produce. But smaller crossovers rarely get third-seating and, when they do, it’s sometimes an overly cramped solution that sacrifices important cargo space. However most families wouldn’t mind having the option of choosing between extra kids and additional luggage.

Having been around since 1998, the Lexus RX pioneered the midsize luxury crossover segment. But, despite consistently strong sales in the United States, it missed out on reeling in those bigger broods. Lexus shoppers with family photos that included more than five heads had to opt for the more expensive GX and LX sport utility models.

Fortunately, the company has remedied that problem by adding a three-row variant for the 2018 model year.

Of course, you do have to spend a little more for the added convenience. A base model RX 350L with front-wheel drive starts at $47,670, while all-wheel drive pushes the entry price to $49,070. If a 3.5-liter V6 with 290 horsepower and 263 lb-ft of torque isn’t to your liking, the hybrid version also receives the L treatment. The RX 450hL pairs the 3.5-liter gasoline engine with two electric drive motors, producing 308 combined system horsepower in the AWD model.

Lexus says all of the L-badged vehicles have been extended by 4.3 inches in the rear and can be outfitted to hold six or seven occupants. The standard seven-seat version uses a 40/20/40 split bench-type second-row seat. Access to the third row is made possible by sliding and folding the second seat forward. The available six-seat configuration replaces the second-row bench with captain’s chairs. At about four grand more than the base RX 350, it’s definitely cheaper than buying a second car to haul around those spare kids.

Packages on the L models are identical to the shorter crossovers and will be priced accordingly. Luxury and premium trims yield a bevy of material upgrades, while the navigation package amps up the sound system and multimedia. However, the RX L comes pretty well-equipped in its basic form. Lexus’ “Safety System+” comes as standard and includes pre-collision braking with pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, intelligent high beams, and dynamic cruise control. Blind spot monitoring with intuitive parking assist and rear cross-traffic braking is also available — as is a panoramic camera display.

We think Lexus made a smart move here and wouldn’t be surprised if RX sales ticked up next year as a result. However, if you’re in the market for something bigger with fewer seats, Lexus still has you covered. Also revealed at the Los Angeles Auto Show is the new two-row version of the LX 570 (not pictured).

The theory here is that, by eliminating crowded seating arrangements, owners can use the added cargo space in the back to tote around expensive chandeliers — or whatever lonely affluent people put in the back of their SUVs. Starting at $84,980, the elimination of the rear row saves prospective owners nearly $5,000. It’s interesting, but we’re not convinced it will be nearly as big of a hit as the lengthened RX.

[Images: Lexus]

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  • CombiCoupe99 CombiCoupe99 on Nov 30, 2017

    Such awful exterior styling. When will they move away from this insanity?

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    • Vulpine Vulpine on Nov 30, 2017

      @gtem "Now can you apply that very same logic to someone with a three row crossover that you might see in traffic not actively using that third row?" No, I can't. Why? Because I can't understand why they'd even WANT a third row if they didn't have kids. (Remember, full time kids means full time kid seats in the car for most people; no seats/carriers, likely no kids.) I also personally know families with more than three kids and they're driving 12-pac and 15-pac vans, not three-row SUVs where the third row has the smallest seats in the rig.

  • Dukeisduke Dukeisduke on Nov 30, 2017

    Matt, where did they add the 4.3 inches? Is it aft of the rear axle centerline? Also, shoot me, but what I want to see is a three-row 4Runner. I'd like to buy a 4Runner as our next family truckster (to replace our 2008 Sienna), but I don't want a Sequoia, I want a 4Runner, but with three rows.

    • Gtem Gtem on Nov 30, 2017

      Well there is an optional third row on the 4Runner, it's just totally miserable. But I share your sentiment, I'd love to have a BOF Toyota SUV option that straddles the current 4Runner and massive, bulbous Sequoia in size. And something that would keep the solid rear axle of the 4Runner to boot. For me that "mythical" vehicle is really something Toyota used to make: the gen 1 Sequoia. It has all the right underpinnings, excellent ground clearance, and a very livable third row. The problem is they're aging and finding a clean one with a nice looking frame is getting hard in my locale.

  • Allamericanred Interesting that as a car design nut that hates most American Suv designs that I think it is a pretty good design that stands apart but is not odd. The color really impacts how it looks to me. Some just do not work
  • NormSV650 I had a 2014 Vsport back in the day. It have a quiver feeling over some bumps in turns. Currently have a 2018 CT6 it is very solid and a great driver's car for the size.
  • NormSV650 I had a 2014 Vsport back in the day. It have a quiver feeling over some bumps in turns. Currently have a 2018 CT6 it is very solid and a great driver's car for the size.
  • MaintenanceCosts I saw my first IS500 out in the wild today (a dark-grey-on-black example) and it struck me that it was much more AMG-like than this product. (Great-looking and -sounding car.)
  • ToolGuy https://youtu.be/Jd0io1zktqI
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