Despite having essentially created the luxury crossover segment with the first-generation RX, Lexus has been lacking in one of the most popular segments recently: a three-row crossover. Both dealers and fans have been clamoring for such a vehicle, and Lexus listened. The 2018 Lexus RX 350L allows Lexus to go head-to-head with CUVs like the Acura MDX, the Infiniti QX60, and the Buick Enclave.
Lexus claims that the RX has been the top-selling luxury utility vehicle in the U.S. for the last 20 years, and the addition of this much-needed three-row should only make it more popular. We’ve already gotten quite familiar with the current fourth-gen RX since its launch for the 2016 model year, but now we get to check out the longer and roomier RX L.
2018 Lexus RX 350L Exterior
Although it rides on the same 109.8-inch wheelbase as the standard RX, the overall length of the 2018 Lexus RX 350L has been stretched by 4.4 inches to accommodate the extra row of seating. Lexus cleverly hid this added length making it fairly difficult to tell the RX and RX L apart. From the rear wheels forward, both crossovers are identical, but the RX 350L’s pinched rear quarter window has been stretched to help disguise the longer body and the D-pillar is a bit more upright to afford third-row passengers as much space as possible. Lexus even managed to minimize the visual effect added to the rear overhang.
The overall changes made to lengthen the RX did nothing to take away this crossover’s stylish design. This tester was equipped with 20-inch, two-tone alloy wheels that are a part of the Luxury Package, and it was finished in an eye-catching Matador Red Mica paint job.
2018 Lexus RX 350L Interior
All that work, of course, was required to add the ever-important third row of seats, and in the end, it gives the RX the distinction of being the only luxury crossover available in two- and three-row configurations. Depending on the seating configuration, the 2018 Lexus RX 350L can seat six or seven passengers, and this tester was a six-seater thanks to the middle row of captain’s chairs. The overall packaging is pretty straightforward with a middle seat that tilts and slides forward to allow easy access to the third row, and with the seats all the way forward, the rearmost occupants get 23.5 inches of legroom. That rear seating area is limited to kids like most of today’s mid-size three-row crossovers. One peculiar thing about the design of the added row is that the rear HVAC controls are only accessible from the third row.
Aside from the added row, the rest of the cabin is up to the same level of luxury that we’ve come to expect from the RX. This tester was equipped with the $5,015 Luxury Package that brought a beautiful mix of beige and brown leather throughout the cabin with a stylish dash of gray sapele wood and aluminum trim. This package also included heated and ventilated front seats with power-adjustable thigh and lumbar support, leather accent trim including the instrument panel, illuminated door sills and a heated steering wheel. That 12.3-inch display with Remote Touch and 12-speaker premium audio system are part of the $2,120 Navigation Package.
2018 Lexus RX 350L Powertrain
Even though the 2018 Lexus RX 350L uses the same 3.5-liter V-6 (290 horsepower and 163 lb-ft of torque) and eight-speed automatic transmission, it also packs on an extra 242 pounds of added curb weight. According to Lexus, this results in slight slower acceleration (0.2 seconds slower from 0-60), but as expected, the added size and weight affects efficiency, too, with EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of 19 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway** for this FWD model. That’s the same fuel economy rating for the standard-length RX 350 with AWD. Like the standard RX, the RX L is available with a hybrid powertrain.
Adding extra weight behind the rear wheels is usually a good way to upset a vehicle’s balance, but the RX 350L retains the smooth and comfortable ride from the RX. The cabin is whisper quiet on the highway making it easy to hear passengers all the way back in the third row; this is designed to be a family hauler after all.
2018 Lexus RX 350L Safety
Despite the five-passenger RX getting a five-star overall crash rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the 2018 Lexus RX 350L only gets four stars. The standard Lexus Safety System+ includes Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Keep Assist, Intelligent High Beams and All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, while our tester was fitted with Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert for an extra $1,065.
2018 Lexus RX 350L Overall
Lexus might be late to the party, but the addition of the 2018 Lexus RX 350L will certainly help attract more sales for Lexus’ top-selling model. This luxury crossover has everything we love about the current RX, and it brings the welcomed convenience of a third row. That extra pair of seats will cost you, though, as the RX 350L’s starting price of $47,670* represents a $4,200 markup over a base five-passenger RX 350. Even more, this loaded up tester had some high-priced option packages resulting in an as-tested price of $57,095.
Make sure to visit your local AutoNation-affiliated Lexus dealership and test drive the 2018 Lexus RX 350L today!
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2018 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.