Broadening the appeal of its bestselling RX crossover, the product development chefs at Lexus have been cooking up two extended-length versions of this popular utility vehicle, models with three rows of seats and room for up to seven passengers.
Making their global debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the 2018 Lexus RX 350L and RX 450hL both feature a body that’s been elongated by more than four inches (10.9 cm) at the rear.
Ensuring passengers traveling in coach are well cared for, the RX L range’s tailgate glass is more steeply raked, which provides an extra serving of headroom. Additionally, the second-row seats tip and slide forward in one motion providing easy access to the way-back.
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Further enhancing interior comfort, the second-row sits slightly higher than the third, a shrewd engineering move that provides greater foot space for riders stuck in steerage. Curiously, the vehicle’s standard leather trim is offered only on the first and second rows of seats.
Both models are available with an 835-Watt, 15-speaker Mark Levinson sound system that’s augmented by Clari-Fi, a music-restoration technology that can dramatically improve the sound quality of digital music.
Providing further visual differentiation between extended-length models and regular versions of the RX, the C-pillars on L variants are partially blacked out, providing a floating-roof look.
RX Ls can be dressed up with optional 20-inch wheels and two different designs are offered. For customers that don’t care about bling, 18s are standard.
As you might expect, the same broad-shouldered spindle grille is applied to the face of L versions of the RX. Bi-LED headlamps are standard, though premium lights are also available for extra moolah.
SEE ALSO: 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show Coverage
On the safety and security front, side-curtain airbags extend to all three rows of seats, so every passenger is protected. Helping keep crashes from happening in the first place is Lexus Safety System+, a standard suite of advanced driver-assistance technologies that includes things like lane-keeping assist, automatic high-beams, adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert and much more.
As suggested by the name, RX 350Ls are powered by a 3.5-liter gasoline V6 engine that delivers a respectable 290 horsepower with 263 pound-feet of peak twist. Torque is routed to either the front or all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. The optional all-wheel-drive system is of mechanical design and can send up to 50 percent of the engine’s torque to the rear axle or simply route all of it forward, reducing parasitic losses and enhancing efficiency.
When it comes to fuel economy, if you want to maximize mileage, it’s best you go with the Lexus RX 450hL, which, surprisingly, outmuscles its sibling by offering 308 hybridized horses. It too is motivated by a 3.5-liter V6, though it’s augmented by two high-torque electric motor-generators in addition to a 37 kW nickel metal hydride battery pack.
Curiously, hybrid models also come standard with all-wheel drive, though this system is electric rather than mechanical. An independent rear motor assembly spins the aft tires as necessary, a design that cuts down on complexity, likely saving a lot of weight in the process.
When it comes to pricing, a front-wheel-drive RX 350L starts at $48,665. Opt for four-corner traction and that price increases to $50,065. Taking some of the sting out of those figures, they both include $995 in destination and delivery charges. Pricing for the RX 450hL has not been released.
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