Test Drive: 2019 Lexus RX 350L
2019 Lexus RX 350L AWD Luxury
Class: Premium Midsize Crossover
Miles driven: 462
Fuel used: 20.7 gallons
Real-world fuel economy: 22.3 mpg
|CG Report Card|
|Room and Comfort||B+|
|Power and Performance||B-|
|Fit and Finish||A|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.|
|Engine Specs||290-hp 3.5L|
Driving mix: 20% city, 80% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 18/25/21 (city/highway/combined)
Fuel type: Regular recommended
Base price: $54,185 (not including $1025 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: Blind-spot monitor with Intuitive Parking Assist with Auto Braking, auto dimming folding mirrors, Panoramic View Monitor ($1865); second-row captain’s chairs ($405); color head-up display ($600); hands-free liftgate ($200); Mark Levinson Premium Audio system with navigation, Lexus Enform Destination Assist, 12.3-inch touchscreen ($3225)
Price as tested: $61,505
The great: Refinement, cabin comfort
The good: On-road performance, extra length = added seating capacity and greater cargo volume
The not so good: Control layout, third row is cramped and difficult to access
More RX price and availability information
Often credited as being the first premium-midsize crossover after its debut for 1999, the Lexus RX has gone on to great success, earning many awards and often ranking as the best-selling vehicle in its class.
In an effort to provide more of a good thing after the RX’s 2016 redesign, Lexus made a stretched, 3-row version available for 2018 that expanded seating capacity from five passengers to seven. Offered in both gas and hybrid form, the 3-row versions get an “L” added to their model names and 4.3 inches added to their length. Both short and long versions carry the same powertrains: 350s have a 290-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission with either front- or all-wheel drive, while 450h hybrids have a similar engine combined with two electric motors to produce 308 horsepower and come only with AWD. The “stretch” costs about 1 mpg in EPA fuel-economy estimates and about $4200 – $4700 (depending on model) in price.
We tested an RX 350L last year, so we invite you to read that report for more details. Here we’ll provide a quick overview, what’s new for 2019, and some additional observations.
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As with the RX 350, the RX 350L offers an extensive list of high-end safety and convenience features. Among those fitted as standard to our tester are full-speed adaptive cruise control, automatic tri-zone climate control with rear-seat control panel, rear-window sunshades, heated and ventilated front seats and heated rear seats, and power folding third-row seats. Added in the Luxury Package (included in the $54,185 base price) are semi-aniline leather upholstery, power-folding heated mirrors, wood and leather heated steering wheel, 20-inch chrome wheels, rear-door sunshades, driver seat and steering wheel memory, and wood and aluminum trim. Changes for 2019 are minor: Models with the Noble Brown interior get a two-tone instrument panel, Intuitive Park Assist is now in an option package rather than being a stand-alone option, and the standard Lexus Enform Remote connectivity system has smartwatch and Amazon Alexa integration.
Options on our test vehicle included blind-spot alert with Intuitive Park Assist and panoramic-view monitor ($1865), second-row captain’s chairs (which cut seating capacity to six and cost $405), color head-up display ($600), hands-free power liftgate ($200), and a premium Mark Levinson audio system with navigation and 12.3-inch touchscreen ($3225). With destination, the bottom line came to $61,505 from a starting point of $55,210. Noteworthy is that the Intuitive Park Assist includes automatic braking (with some, you have to remember to hit the brakes yourself), and the color head-up display was particularly large and effective.
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We’ve noted the RX’s strong powertrain performance before, and the test RX 350L backed that up by averaging just a hair over 7 seconds in the 0-60 dash and returning 22.3 mpg in mostly highway driving. It also carried on the RX’s tradition of a fine ride, decent visibility — thanks in part to a 180-degree rearview camera and optional 360-degree Panoramic View Monitor — adequate interior storage, and great first- and second-row seating space. (Noteworthy in this last regard was the optional memory for driver seat and steering wheel, the latter a real convenience not usually found on non-premium rivals.) However, it also continued with the tedious-to-use audio, navigation, and climate controls included with the optional Mark Levinson/navigation package, which utilizes a console-mounted “mouse” to control functions on the 12.3-inch touchscreen — really the vehicle’s only demerit.
But the star of the show – or at least, the “L’s” reason for being – is the third-row seat. As might be expected of a vehicle that was made into a 3-row vehicle rather than starting out as one, the seating space back there is limited. So is the access portal. Anyone over about 5’7 will run out of headroom, and anyone but small kids will find it difficult to get back there and ride in a knees-up posture once they do. Helping things is that the second-row seat can be slid fore and aft several inches to adjust legroom between the two rows.
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Less obvious is the fact that the added length combined with a more upright back window adds nearly 14 cubic feet of cargo space for a total of 70.1 cubic feet. Folding the third row is easy to do thanks to our tester’s standard power-folding third-row seat backs. Folding the second-row seat backs is a less-convenient 2-step process, but at least it results in a long, flat load floor.
Beneath the floor is added storage space that can hold the cargo cover, a plus. An added convenience on our tester was the $200 hands-free liftgate, which – because of the low cost – seems as though it should be standard.
Certainly there are other three-row midsize crossovers that offer more third-row room and greater cargo space. But the Lexus RX has a lot going for it otherwise, and few rivals can match its overall polish and long-standing pedigree.
Check out our Premium Midsize Crossover Best Buys
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2019 Lexus RX 350L