Lexus RX 350L: Seating seven at a stretch

The new Lexus seven-seater is here, and the good news is the RX 350L costs less than the five-seater

SINGAPORE — There’s good news for well-heeled family men, and better news. Lexus has just launched the RX 350L in Singapore, a stretched version of the RX luxury Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) that seats seven.

The better news? The RX 350L is priced at S$299,800 with COE, which makes it S$23,000 cheaper than a five-seat RX 350.

As the “L” suggests, the seven-seater has been stretched to accommodate the third row of chairs. It’s 11cm longer than the RX 350.

Both cars have the same wheelbase, so the extra length is entirely at the rear of the car. A steeper tailgate has also been used to free up headroom back there.

But the RX 350L disguises the added bulk well.

Here’s a view of the new car’s caboose end…

…and a look at the rear of a standard RX 350.

Lexus makes the unlikely claim that the third row seats offer “the same comfort and luxury” as those in the middle row, but it’s clear that it’s taken steps to make the seating there habitable.

The second row seats are slightly raised to create more foot room for the people behind them, and there are all-important air-con vents back there with their own controls.

Both the second and third row areas have USB charging ports. Folding the chairs is a sweat-free business, done electrically.

It’s powered by the same drivetrain as the RX 350 (a non-turbo 3.5-litre V6 driving all four wheels through an eight-speed auto), but in slightly detuned form. That gives the RX 350L 289 horsepower and peak torque of 358Nm at 4,600rpm (against 296hp and 370Nm at 4,600rpm for the five-seater).

The seven-seater is also slightly slower and thirstier than the RX 350, no surprise given that the extra bulk adds around 110kg to the car.

0 to 100km/h takes 8.1 seconds (0.2 longer than in the RX 350) and it draws from the tank a bit faster, averaging 10.2L/100km (versus 9.6L/100km).

In spite of the RX 350L’s smaller price tag, it’s well equipped where it counts. There are 10 airbags, blind spot monitors and a rear cross traffic alert system. Eight parking sensors ease the job of slotting the big Lexus into tight spots.

Other comforts include power front seats, a massive 12.3-inch infotainment screen with GPS navigation and a power tailgate.

The RX 350L brings the total number of variants for the brand’s mid-size SUVs to four: the RX 300 (née RX turbo), RX 350 and the hybrid RX 450h.

It slots into a market for seven-seat SUVs that is still relatively uncrowded. The Honda CR-V 1.5 Turbo kicks off the compact end of the market at S$150,999 with COE, with the Hyundai Santa Fe 2.4 GLS costing a thousand dollars more.

Kia’s Sorento SX 2.2L (S$151,999 with COE) is closer to the RX 350L in size, with a wheelbase that’s a centimetre shorter.

As for the RX 350L, it’s sandwiched in price between Volvo’s XC90 (from S$290,000 with COE), a pioneer of the seven-seat SUV class, and the BMW X5 (S$357,888 with COE).

While the SUV segment in general becomes increasingly crowded, Lexus will launch the UX next year, a sporty, coupe-like version of its NX compact SUV. It’s also working on a flagship crossover based on the LF-1 Limitless concept car (below) it showed at January’s Detroit motor show.

While the upcoming cars are more style-focused, the RX 350L is aimed at people who covet space. “Whether you want to transport three generations of your family, or make space for luggage and larger loads, the RX 350L is designed to complement your lifestyle,” says Samuel Yong, the marketing director for Lexus distributor Borneo Motors Singapore.

Within the overall SUV battle, Lexus is hoping to win a space race.

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Leow Ju-Len
Leow Ju-Len is a lot older than he behaves. He's been writing about cars for 23 years. Someday he might do it coherently. Ju-Len believes in world peace and V8s, but not necessarily in that order.