License to Print Money: Lexus to Introduce a Three-row RX

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

The grandpappy of all luxury crossovers, the Lexus RX, has long been the runaway sales leader in its segment. Last year, the RX crushed its competition like beetles under its feet, selling 109,435 units. That’s nearly one-in-five midsize luxury crossovers.

Intent on proving that too much of a good thing is a good thing, the RX will further cement its domination with the introduction of a three-row version, set to appear at this year’s L.A. Auto Show.

The 2018 Lexus RX 350L will make its world premiere alongside a hybrid model, the RX 450hL. Given its beyond dominant stature in the segment, we fully expect both these versions to sell like proverbial hotcakes.

The non-hybrid model will no doubt be powered by the corporate 3.5-liter V6 engine, making 295 horsepower and capable of towing 3,500 pounds. The current 450h also deploys a 3.5-liter V6, but it is paired with hybrid wizardry to produce a total system horsepower of 308 hp. The hybrid has an EPA rating in excess of 30 mpg on the city cycle.

At a present length of 192.5 inches, it would not be unreasonable to expect an RX that’s been put in a taffy-puller to approach or perhaps even crest the 200-inch mark.

Nearly 20 years ago, the original RX paved the way for the luxury crossover segment — for better or for worse, depending on your point of view. Certainly, there were other attempts at luxury, such as the first-gen Explorer Limited, but it was the RX that seemed to solve the puzzle of height, all-weather traction, maneuverability, and comfort.

A front-drive RX currently starts at $43,220 and can approach 60 grand in check-every-box F Sport guise. Hybrid models can be had in the mid- to high-50k range. Expect the three-row variant to add at least $1,500 to the bottom line.

Sales of the RX is on par with last year’s record performance, so expect to hear of huge sales gains in the 2018 calendar year with this new addition to the range. Lexus does not generally break out the report of specific trims per model, so sales of the three-row variant will likely be lumped in with its two-row brother. So far this year, Lexus has written 84,254 RX prescriptions. BMW has sold 38,453 X5s.

The RX 350L will be revealed at the Lexus Press Conference taking place on November 29, 2017 at 10:00 am PST.

[Images: Toyota Motor Corp.]

Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

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  • 87 Morgan 87 Morgan on Nov 16, 2017

    Here in the wealthy burbs of Denver the Yukon Denali, Suburban XLT, & Escalade carry plenty of brand cache in the school pick up line. The Lexus however, is reserved for the premium students who attend the various charter schools. The GX, LX, & RX are ubiquitous in the drop off line. Depending on the seating arrangement the RXL will sell like crazy. If it is similar to the Lamba and has quad buckets with a 3rd row, it will sell in spades. With that said, I think it sells in spades if it continues with the mid bench and rear bench. The upper class stay at home mom really like themselves some Lexus.

    • Cactuar Cactuar on Nov 16, 2017

      I'd buy my stay at home wife a Lexus if I could afford it too :)

  • Jimbo1126 Jimbo1126 on Nov 16, 2017

    I'd almost kill for one of those first generation RXs in decent shape. I see them around a fair bit but people hold onto them.

    • See 1 previous
    • Featherston Featherston on Nov 17, 2017

      Agreed. As discussed in previous RX comment threads, the 3rd-gens are nicely executed vehicles, but the 1st and 2nd-gens were better.

  • ShitHead It kicked on one time for me when a car abruptly turned into my lane. Worked as advertised. I was already about to lean into the brake as I was into the horn.
  • Theflyersfan I look at that front and I have to believe that BMW and Genesis designers look at that and go "wow...that's a little much." Rest of the car looks really good - they nailed the evolution of the previous design quite well. They didn't have to reinvent the wheel - when people want a Mustang, I don't think they are going to cross-shop because they know what they want.
  • Theflyersfan Winters go on around Halloween and Summers go on in late March or early April. However, there were some very cold mornings right after the summers went on that had me skidding a bit due to no grip! I do enough (ahem) spirited driving on empty hilly/mountain roads to justify a set of sticky rubber, and winters are a must as while there isn't much snow where I am (three dustings of snow this entire winter), I head to areas that get a bit more snow and winter tires turns that light, RWD car into a snow beast!
  • SCE to AUX My B5.5 was terrible, but maybe the bugs have been worked out of this one.
  • Zerofoo 5-valve 1.8T - and OK engine if you aren't in a hurry. These turbocharged engines had lots of lag - and the automatic transmission didn't help.Count on putting a timing belt on this immediately. The timing belt service interval, officially, was 100,000 miles and many didn't make it to that.