Lexus Squeezes Third Row into the 2018 RX 350L

2018 Lexus RX 350L

This week I am behind the wheel of the most popular luxury SUV sold in America, the 2018 Lexus RX 350.  If this one looks a little longer, it’s because it is.  For the first time since the RX came out in 1998, now you can get it with a 3rd row seat.  This version is called the RX 350 L.

Lexus extended the length of the body by 4.3” to allow for the 3rd-row seat, but it did not change the wheelbase at all, so it will drive and handle the same as the regular RX.

2018 Lexus RX 350L

Under the hood, you’ll find the tried and true 3.5-liter V6 that is putting out 290-horses.  It comes with an 8-speed automatic transmission.  My tester is all-wheel drive, but you can also get it in two-wheel drive and it comes in a hybrid version also.

The exterior is sleek and features a “floating roof” look.  Of course, it has the controversial cattle catcher grill and you’ll also notice the rear window slopes back to allow more headroom for the 3rd-row passengers.  It sits on 20” alloy wheels.

Understated, Well-Executed Cabin

Inside the RX, you will find a very nice, but somewhat understated interior.  The front seats offer you a lot of stitching, and they are heated and cooled.

From behind the wood, power tilt, multi-function heated steering wheel, you’ll see a nice, easy to read gauge cluster with a 4.2” colorful driver information center in the middle.  Through the windshield, you see a very large, color, heads-up display.

The RX has an attractive center console featuring laser cut wood, the joystick-type controller for the large display, controls for the three drive modes, and two cup holders that you can make deep or shallow with the push of a button.

This RX has a massive 12.3” fixed screen that operates the navigation system, Mark Levinson sound system, Bluetooth, Lexus app suite, settings, voice commands, and it houses the rearview camera.  You toggle around the screen from the console controller that can be accessed by the driver or passenger.  When you move the controller, it locks in and clicks on what you are trying to change.  It takes just a little getting used to, but when you do, it’s OK.

Under the screen are settings for climate control, radio volume, and a knob to scroll through radio channels.

Standard Features and Options

As you’d expect with a Lexus, it comes loaded with standard features like adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and lane keeping assist.

You also get a power moonroof, 12-way power seats, power fold-flat 3rd-row seating, and a power hands-free tailgate.  Simply place your hand near the Lexus emblem and it will rise.  That’s much better than waving your foot under the bumper like most systems.

Options-wise, this vehicle has rear-cross traffic alert with braking, panoramic rear camera, the heads-up display, triple beam LED lights, and the upgraded 835-watt sound system.  Total options add up to $7600.

2nd- and 3rd-Row Room

Since this is a new model, let’s talk about room behind the front seats.  The center row bench slides forward and backward.  The issue becomes that the more legroom the second-row passengers have, the less in the 3rd row.

Although this is a 7-passenger SUV, it would be cramped for 7 adults.  I can see 4 to 5 adults and two children working out well.

Access to the 3rd row is easy enough.  A lever on the side of the seat folds the second-row seat down and it slides forward.  One nice thing is the 3rd-row passengers can control their own temperature.  There are available second-row captain chairs if you wish.

Cargo space, even with the 3rd-row seat up is ample, if you fold the 3rd row down, it’s massive.  The 3rd row is split, so you could put just one person in the far back for extra cargo area.  Note that the 3rd row folds very flat.

Fuel Economy and What You’ll Pay

Gas mileage is good at 18 in town and 21 on the highway.  Total MSRP is just over $62,600.

People have waited for years for this SUV to offer 3 rows of seating and it is available now at your local Lexus dealer.

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2018 Lexus RX 350L

  • What I liked most:  The solid feel and top-notch overall quality.   
  • What I would change:  The third-row seat setup feels like an afterthought.       
  • MSRP: Base price $54,085, as equipped $62,660.
  • Fuel Economy:  Rated at 18 city/25 highway/21 combined.
  • Official Color:  Atomic Silver.
  • Odometer reading when tested: 1100 miles.
  • Weight: 4619 pounds.
  • Spare Tire:  Compact temporary. 
  • Length-Width-Height: 196.9” long/74.6” wide/67.5” high.
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 19.2 gallons with the filler on the driver’s side. 
  • Towing Capacity:  3500-pounds.
  • 2018 RX 350L in a few words:  Great SUV, but only for five adults.
  • Warranty:  4-year/60,000 mile bumper-to-bumper, 6-year/70,000 miles on the power train.   
  • Final Assembly Location:  Cambridge, Ontario, Canada.                     
  • Manufacturers website: www.Lexus.com  
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2 Comments
  1. Anthony 4 months ago

    Jerry, I have a friend who recently bought a 2018 Forester, base model. She’s thrilled with it, and I must confess that when she let me test drive it, I was impressed. However, a potential safety issue occurred when she took a long trip. While driving at 70 mph on a desert highway, a strong side-wind gust cause the rear of the car to seemingly rise off the ground or to at least lift the rear of the car to the point that the entire car became floaty and squirrely. I check some Subaru forums and did find a few people that have have the same experience in strong cross winds. Is this a well-kept secret by Subaru, or what? Have you heard of anyone with a similar Forester experience?

    • Amy Plemons 4 months ago

      Anthony, I have heard nothing like this and I suspect the cases are very isolated. She can contact Subaru America and see what they have to say.

      Thanks for listening to the show.

      Jerry Reynolds, President
      Car Pro Radio Network

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