By on November 29, 2017

2018 RX 350L

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

2018 RX 350L

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.

2018 RX 350L

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.

2018 RX 350L

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.

2018 RX 350L

2018 RX 350L

[Images: Lexus]

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51 Comments on “2018 Lexus RX L Delivers Third-row Seating, New LX Cargo Variant Removes It...”


  • avatar
    bechsteinb

    But the mouth on that thing… http://bit.ly/2nfL9qe

  • avatar
    silentsod

    The RX looks like a beluga in the first picture.

  • avatar

    1) Lexus needs a slap on the head for not doing a 3-row RX back in 2004, with the second generation.

    2) Nobody hauls that much in their LX, and I think the take rate will be low on the no-3rd-row version. Just like the Tahoe is/was available without a 3rd row. How many of those do you see?

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      The take rate on the three-row LX is low to begin with, so I think you’re right on target there, Corey…

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Didn’t the two-row Tahoe *just* come out?

      The first gen Tahoe with two rows was very popular. I would choose the new version if I were looking at one. 3rd row belongs in a Suburban, its absolutely useless in the Tahoe.

      • 0 avatar

        The GMT400 and 800 Tahoes were available with just two rows. You can use the third row in the Tahoe, in fact it’s more usable than the third row in a Highlander.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          I’ve been in the third row of a 3 row Tahoe and the third row of a 2nd gen Highlander.

          Highlander every-time. Due to the solid axle and flat floor the Tahoe was more “knees to chest” than the Highlander. (FWIW I’m 5’10” and 160 lbs.)

          • 0 avatar

            You’re right about the knee height, but your knees do have more room in the Tahoe. I can’t sit in the third row Highlander with my knees straight forward.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Yeah I’d say the third row in the SWB GM fullsize SUVs is quite miserable. I haven’t been in a current Highlander to compare, however.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Seriously, where are all these 4-5 child families, I never see them. Who actually needs these school-buses?

  • avatar
    ajla

    What we really need is a $30K cheaper version Land Cruiser.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      @ajla – yes please.

    • 0 avatar

      The Land Cruiser straight-six diesel, UN version.

      Rubber mats, AC optional.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        I’d think the AC is one of the few things that is definitely a standard (and much appreciated) feature given the locales that the UN-spec rigs are often seen in.

        I applaud this two-row move on the LX. I’d be even happier to see it applied to the GX. The old GX470 at least had the option of easily removing them. Having them stow in the floor eats up an appreciable amount of cargo room and there’s not much you can do (have seen some guys on the forums tear them out, it’s not a clean look).

    • 0 avatar
      shane_the_ee

      Those are available either from your local Nissan dealer (ask for an Armada, and they’ll give you a Patrol) or your local Toyota dealer (Ask for a 4-Runner and they’ll give you a Land Cruiser Prado modified to have a better interior configuration.)

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      You mean a 4Runner or GX?

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        To be fair the 4Runner/GX ride on the global Land Cruiser Prado 150 platform (the GX is literally a tarted up Prado with an ugly mug). Although it meets certain internal standards for durability and capability for a vehicle bearing the “Land Cruiser” name (sort of like Trail Rated but more focus on durability), the “Prado” line has always been based on what is known as a “medium duty” chassis within the Toyota truck/4wd hierarchy. The LC 200 and old school 70 line are I think the only ones currently in the “heavy duty” category. The LC200 Land Cruiser is also practically speaking a wider, larger, roomier truck than the Prado 150/GX/4Runner. Go back to the Land Cruiser 70 series when they first spun off a “Land Cruiser 70 “Prado” and “Land Cruiser II” that looked just like a 70 Series, but was lighter duty and more comfortable riding.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Wow, look at all that third row space. Hobbits will love it.

  • avatar
    RSF

    Perfect for young families hauling extra kids to birthday parties or carpool shuttles to school. Definitely will be a big hit.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    That has got to be the most hideous nose on a vehicle since the first Edsel. Bloomin’ grill looks like the chin-mounted air scoop of an old F-8 Crusader just hacked off and bolted onto the car in place of a bumper. I simply wouldn’t own a car that looked like that, no matter how nice and comfortable the interior might be. In all honesty, I’m surprised Lexus sells any cars at all since so many of them have this general grill style.

    And Toyota’s not much better, but at least their grill doesn’t look like a huge coal scoop.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Agreed on all points.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      “[The nose] looks like the chin-mounted air scoop of an old F-8 Crusader”

      My God, it does.

      In a way, though, isn’t that a logical follow-up to the P-38-style turbo- and supercharging on the recently reviewed Volvo S90 T5? OK, maybe not . . . .

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Careful there, them’s Lightning words! While the Allisons on the P-38 were definitely supercharged, you also had big V-12 power under that bonnet on each wing. Unfortunately, those superchargers didn’t like that cold, damp air in Europe. You get down to the Mediterranean, those birds earned the nickname, “Fork-tailed Devils” from the Germans and “Two Planes, One Pilot” from the Japanese. This Lexus is just going to be known as, Big Mouth.

        • 0 avatar
          Featherston

          I was just referring to the fact that the Volvo, like the Lightning, is “twincharged” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twincharger).

          There’s probably an interesting business and political backstory as to why the V-1710 never got fully baked two-stage, two-speed, intercooled and aftercooled supercharging. GE, of course, had a vested interest in selling turbos. And GM, I imagine, was loathe to license anything proprietary that Rolls-Royce had developed. And Packard and Rolls-Royce, of course, were happily profiting form the Merlin.

  • avatar
    slap

    It looks like someone decided not to hit it with just an ugly stick, but use the whole tree.

  • avatar
    CombiCoupe99

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

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Since not everybody has (or wants) an excess of children, there is little need for three-row transportation. Crossovers meet the need and offer sufficient utility for those lacking in such large families. Only one time in my life have I ever carried a total of five people in my car and even then it was only one child and four adults (in a JKU Wrangler with its top down; the kid especially loved that.) While I do see the purpose and need for larger SUVs and crossovers, the need does not match the numbers as the vast majority of times I see no more than three people (driver and one or two kids) in one.

      Now, if someone came up with a properly crossover-based pickup truck that wasn’t a road whale™ I’m sure the other crossovers would take a significant hit in sales.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        The Vulpine classic “I don’t need something therefore I’ve extrapolated that neither does anyone else.”

        “as the vast majority of times I see no more than three people (driver and one or two kids) in one.”

        The vast majority of JKU Wranglers I see on the road are nice and clean and look like the driver never has and likely never will venture off road. Should we stop selling them then?

        • 0 avatar

          It goes along with the other common trope: “I own this car and like it, therefore every other option on the market is totally excessive.”

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Ain’t you just the sweetest thang, gtem, taking my name in vain like that? Of course you choose to ignore that I clearly acknowledged the need by some people but I would also note that those 3-row things really don’t sell as well as you think and the third row almost never get used by any BUT those large families.

          Here’s the point: You ain’t going to see a third row on a Jeep Wrangler, ever. The Grand Cherokee is a popular, one of the most popular, large CUVs and it has only 2-row seating. Reportedly the Wagoneer or whatever their next model is called will have 3rd-row seating but we’ll simply have to wait and see how well it performs on the sales floor.

          As for those JKU Wranglers, you might be surprised how they get used. I owned one myself and while I didn’t do a lot of trail running, I was off-pavement a lot and going places rigs like that RX would never go.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            “As for those JKU Wranglers, you might be surprised how they get used. I owned one myself and while I didn’t do a lot of trail running, I was off-pavement a lot and going places rigs like that RX would never go.”

            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? Just think about it for a second and let that sink in.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “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.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    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.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      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.


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