Lexus RX L adds a feature customers have been craving

The Lexus RX was one of the original luxury crossovers, first hitting showrooms for the 1999 model year. But in all this time the RX hasn’t offered one major feature customers crave: a third row of seats.

The 2018 Lexus RX L aims to rectify that. Debuting at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show, it’s the first three-row RX Lexus has ever made. It’s the kind of vehicle that should appeal to large families who are too style conscious to buy a minivan, and gives Lexus an answer to rivals like the Acura MDX, Audi Q7, and Infiniti QX60 that already offer three rows.

To make room for that all-important third row, Lexus stretched the RX body by 4.3 inches and made the tailgate window angle steeper to provide extra headroom for backseat passengers. All RX L models get a power 40/20/40 split-folding third-row bench seat. A seven-seat configuration is standard, but buyers can also swap out the second-row bench for a pair of captain’s chairs. This reduces seating capacity to six, but probably makes things more comfortable for second-row passengers and makes third-row access easier.

The RX L is mechanically identical to the two-row RX, meaning buyers get a choice of standalone V6 and hybrid powertrains. The RX 350L uses a 3.5-liter V6 that develops 290 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard, all-wheel drive is optional, and an eight-speed automatic transmission is offered with both.

The RX 450hL also uses a 3.5-liter V6, but this time paired with a version of Lexus parent Toyota’s hybrid system. Total system output is 308 hp and all-wheel drive is standard. As in the two-row RX hybrid, the all-wheel drive system uses an additional electric motor to power the rear axle, with no mechanical connection to the front axle.

Tech features also mirror those of the two-row RX. The available Lexus Enform Remote app lets owners lock and unlock the doors, start the engine, find the car in a crowded parking lot, and monitor who else is driving the car from a connected iOS or Android smartphone. All RX models come standard with Lexus Safety System+, which includes lane keep assist, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross traffic braking are optional, along with a head-up display and 15-speaker Mark Levinson audio system.

The 2018 Lexus RX 350L starts at $48,665 with front-wheel drive and $50,065 with all-wheel drive (both prices include a mandatory $995 destination charge). Pricing for the hybrid model will be revealed at a later date.

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