Lexus RX350L compact crossover features third row seating
It's hard to place the Lexus RX350L in the usual SUV categories. On one hand, it's listed as a "small SUV" by the US Department of Transportation. On the other hand, it's got the third-row seating that most buyers associate with mid-size SUVs. With the RX350L, you get the best of both categories.
First, let's define the distinction between the basic RX350 and the RX350L. The standard RX350 is Lexus' best-selling model. It provides seating for four or five passengers, depending on the rear seat selection. The RX350L is 4.4 inches longer, and has a squared-off rear roofline to provide space for a third row of seats. With the RX350L, you can seat six or seven passengers, again depending on your choice of a bench seat or captain's chairs in the second row.
Apart from that, the RX350L is very much the same premium luxury crossover SUV that you expect from Lexus. It's powered by Toyota/Lexus' ultra-reliable 3.5-liter V6 engine. This powerplant has been in use for decades, and in the RX350L, it produces 290 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque. Paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and your choice of front-wheel or all-wheel-drive, any RX will provide ample power for daily driving.
Lexus is a luxury brand, so the interior is all-important. Our test vehicle was equipped with the Luxury trim level, so it came with heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, and a heated wood and leather steering wheel, all trimmed with semi-aniline leather. There's LED ambient lighting and real wood trim, plus amenities like wireless device charging, a color head-up display, and a 12.3-inch infotainment system with navigation and a premium 15-speaker audio system. That's all wrapped in the Lexus standard shell, which is engineered to be very quiet.
When it comes to cargo, the extra length and higher roofline of the RX350L doesn't yield much extra, due to the space taken up by the third-row seat. The RX350L has 58.5 cubic feet behind the front row, where the shorter RX350 has 56.3 cubic feet. It's a little better when you consider space behind the second row. In the base RX350 you get 18.4 cubic feet, while the RX350L provides 23 cubic feet. If you need to pull a trailer, the RX350L can tow up to 1,433 pounds.
On the road, the RX350L delivers a smooth, comfortable driving experience. With its longer wheelbase and heavier weight, the RX drives more like a mid-size SUV, but it's easier to manage in parking lots. Engine power is more than adequate for standard driving and the eight-speed transmission is silky smooth. Lexus provides comprehensive safety and driver assistance technology, so features like road sign recognition, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assistance, and blind spot monitoring are all there on every model.
The bottom line on the 2021 RX350L is that it provides an important option for Lexus buyers to get a little more space and seating capacity. That helps more buyers choose the RX line, which keeps the RX as Lexus' best-selling vehicle. If you've been dreaming about a smaller Lexus SUV, but you need that third-row seat, the RX350L is for you.
2021 Lexus RX350L AWD Lux
Base price: $55,300
Price as tested: $63,525
Type: Compact crossover SUV
Engine: 3.5-liter V6 (290 hp, 263 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
EPA estimated mileage: 18/25
Overall length: 196.9 inches
Curb weight: 4,619 pounds
Final assembly: Fukuoka, Japan
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.