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With the introduction of the 2018 RX 350L and 450hL models, Lexus is finally offering the modern, three-row SUV that luxury buyers want, supplementing its long-running, truck-based offerings. These two new model versions feature the luxury, ride quality, safety, and fuel efficiency the five-passenger RX is known for, but they feature seating for more passengers.
By extending the RX body by 4.3 inches and revising the rear tailgate, Lexus was able to create an interior that can accommodate a third-row seat. Toyota’s luxury line no longer forces people who want a three-row Lexus to buy the heavy, inefficient GX or LX models.
Still, the styling forces some compromises—the RX L will offer only six- or seven-passenger seating configurations. The standard version features seating for seven. Depressing a single lever will fold and slide the second-row seat forward, allowing for third-row access from either side of the SUV.
Six-passenger RX L models come with optional captain’s chairs in the second row. The two-passenger, third-row seat has standard power-folding capability. Additional standard features include three-zone climate control, leather-trimmed seating for the first and second rows, and a power rear tailgate.
Look beyond the longer wheelbase and additional seats, and the RX L is mostly standard Lexus RX—which is a good thing. The RX 350L uses a 290-hp, 3.5-liter V6—which runs on regular gas—and an eight-speed automatic transmission. Front- and all-wheel-drive versions are available.
Stepping up to the RX 450hL hybrid brings standard all-wheel drive. A 3.5-liter V6 is paired with two electric motors, generating a total of 308 horsepower, and driving through a continuously variable transmission. Battery capacity for the hybrid system is 37 kWh.
Like the regular RX, the L will come with the standard Lexus Safety System+, which includes forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and lane-keeping assist. Blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic braking are optional.
All versions of the RX L come with a standard 8-inch screen for the Display Audio infotainment system, which features a number of buttons to interact with the system. Upgrading to the Navigation package brings a 12.3-inch split-screen display, but also the Remote Touch Interface, which uses a convoluted, difficult-to-use mouselike controller to make selections. Frustratingly, like…