Debuting last year, Lexus’ top selling RX 350 midsize-luxury SUV was stretched a bit to make room for a third row. Up to that point, families who needed more seating were out of luck for this attractive seller. But Lexus solved that by introducing their RX 350L.
I must admit my wife owns an RX 350 and loves it. The best car we ever owned. But I promise to remain impartial in this review.
The RX 350L comes standard with FWD with AWD being an option and a given for those living in the Snowbelt. Aside from its extended length and third row, the 350L doesn’t differ much from the 350. It still possesses a luxurious, quiet interior and a smooth ride, all standard traits for Lexus vehicles.
Perhaps one difference is that with the third row, there’s somewhat less cargo space then the 350 as the extended space is now occupied by the third row. Otherwise, it remains a leading seller in its class.
RX 350L comes with a 3.5-liter V6 290-hp and 267 lb/ft of torque. When coupled to a standard 8-speed automatic transmission, EPA rates it at 18 city, 25-highway mpg. So powered, it moves the 4,597-pound AWD SUV with a linear application of torque. Since the 350L is somewhat heavier than the standard 350, the slightly slower performance is noticeable. As is, Lexus says it’s been timed at 8.1 seconds for a 0-60 sprint.
The system offers Eco, Normal and Sport modes, the latter injects quicker shifts points at a higher rpm for sportier performance.
As for the AWD, a Lock Mode switch sends a larger amount of power to all wheels such as when the vehicle gets stuck in deep snow, or to the wheel that needs it most. The system shuts off when the vehicle exceeds 25 mph.
Power aside, RX’s posh interior is ultra comfy. Perched atop the dash and grabbing the eyes is a 12.3-inch horizontal display with voice recognition that’s included when opting for the optional Navigation package ($3,225). In rearview camera mode, the screen offers overhead, normal and wide-angle views. The display functions are selected by a controller on the console. It’s a sensitive system that should be used while the vehicle is stopped as it takes the eyes off the road. Perhaps a touchscreen would be a bit safer. The system includes Lexus Enform App Suite (a subscription is needed and connects a smartphone to your apps etc.) and lots more. HVAC controls are easy to use with your selections appearing on the display.
Heated/cooled front seats are soft, supportive and have an under thigh extension that is nice to have on long trips.
The second row, which in the test car were captain’s chairs (a bench is also offered), were nicely padded, heated and slid fore/aft 12 inches to allow easy access into the third row after a low 21-inch step-in. Third row bench seat is mainly for youngsters as leg and headroom are limited.
A power liftgate opens into a somewhat smaller cargo space than RX 350. Behind the third row, it’s rated at 7.5 cubic feet, that more meaningfully measures 21 inches deep, 45 wide and 27 high. There’s also a narrow bin on the floor behind those seats for small item storage. Flip the 3rd row seatbacks and cargo capacity expands to 23 cubic feet for 42 inches of cargo depth. Fold them and there’s 77 inches of loading depth.
Despite its added weight, the RX 350L has sure-footed handling as it stays planted in sharp turns and twisty roadways. But its heft can be felt in city driving, like when dodging runaway shopping carts. Ride wise, it’s smooth and quiet.
Of course, luxury accommodations and quality build come at a price. The AWD RX 350L began life with a base price of $49,176, but seriously escalated as technology options are pricey. For example, these were the options on the test car:
Blind Spot Monitoring with Parking Assist w/Auto Braking, panoramic view monitor, folding mirrors ($1,865); Cold Weather package ($200); color Head Up Display ($500); touch free power rear door ($200); heated/ventilated front seats, heated rear seats ($1,080); triple beam headlamps w/washers ($1,515); 12.3-inch nav system w/Mark Levinson premium audio, Lexus Enform infotainment ($3,225); Premium Package includes leather trim seats and more ($810); wood/leather heated steering wheel ($450); all weather cargo liner/mats ($279); 3M paint protection film ($429); key glove ($10) and delivery of $1,025 brought the bottom line to $60,858. If you can do without some of these niceties, that 60K can be whittled down somewhat. But competition wise, the 350L is still in the same ball park price.
To its credit, the RX 350L earned good crash safety scores from the governments 5-star safety rating. It received an overall score of four stars; four for driver/passenger frontal crash; five for front rear seat side crash and for for rollover.
RX 350L is a proven, top performer for those requiring a third row seat as it’s a class best that will always garner a high resale value.