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Lexus RX 2018 review: 350L

The Lexus RX now comes with a longer seven-seat version, and this is it: the RX 350L.

This week it was bucketing down with rain, the roads were full and wet, and the visibility was poor. I was test driving Lexus’ new seven-seater SUV, the RX 350L Luxury model (second from the top of the rain, sorry, range). 

It’s in a similar category to the Audi Q7, Land Rover Discovery and Volvo XC90. And I had a fairly seamless time with it over the seven days of driving, even in this dismal weather. Here’s how it performed with my family for the week. 

How does it drive?

It’s all about the silence. The RX 350L is ultra quiet and I don’t know if you’ve been a parent for very long but after a few years, you begin to crave silent moments. The engine is quiet, even when you put your foot down hard on the accelerator, and it drives so smoothly you barely feel the bumps as you go over them. It’s like you’re in a big, airy bubble that’s rolling along without an engine.

It’s powerful, so shoots ahead when you need it to, and gets you up hills fast. (image credit: Dean McCartney) It’s powerful, so shoots ahead when you need it to, and gets you up hills fast. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

But there is an engine, a large 3.5-litre one at that. It’s powerful, so shoots ahead when you need it to, and gets you up hills fast. It certainly made driving this week a breeze. Everything about the car - the way it handled, the traction on wet roads (it has all-wheel drive), the steering, the way it feels while you drive it - was spot on. I was completely confident and had no qualms driving in the awful weather all week. I’d be happy to take the RX 350L on long trips because it felt like it could handle anything you threw at it. 

Parking is not too bad in this seven seater, even though it is sizeable - you need to be aware of the size and choose your parks wisely. Once you do you’ve got a reversing camera and front and rear parking sensors to help you. 

What does it look like?

It’s longer than the original five-seater RX 350, but it’s not too high so you won’t have any anxiety about fitting into shopping centre carparks. The exterior is elegant and sleek with a large grille that adds a bit of toughness to the design. It's big though, and it looks it.

  • 2018 Lexus RX 350L. (image credit: Dean McCartney) 2018 Lexus RX 350L. (image credit: Dean McCartney)
  • 2018 Lexus RX 350L. (image credit: Dean McCartney) 2018 Lexus RX 350L. (image credit: Dean McCartney)
  • 2018 Lexus RX 350L. (image credit: Dean McCartney) 2018 Lexus RX 350L. (image credit: Dean McCartney)
  • 2018 Lexus RX 350L. (image credit: Dean McCartney) 2018 Lexus RX 350L. (image credit: Dean McCartney)
  • 2018 Lexus RX 350L. (image credit: Dean McCartney) 2018 Lexus RX 350L. (image credit: Dean McCartney)
  • 2018 Lexus RX 350L. (image credit: Dean McCartney) 2018 Lexus RX 350L. (image credit: Dean McCartney)
  • 2018 Lexus RX 350L. (image credit: Dean McCartney) 2018 Lexus RX 350L. (image credit: Dean McCartney)
  • 2018 Lexus RX 350L. (image credit: Dean McCartney) 2018 Lexus RX 350L. (image credit: Dean McCartney)
  • 2018 Lexus RX 350L. (image credit: Dean McCartney) 2018 Lexus RX 350L. (image credit: Dean McCartney)
  • 2018 Lexus RX 350L. (image credit: Dean McCartney) 2018 Lexus RX 350L. (image credit: Dean McCartney)
  • 2018 Lexus RX 350L. (image credit: Dean McCartney) 2018 Lexus RX 350L. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

Inside is styled to a premium level with a leather steering wheel that feels beautiful under the hands, which always contributes to a lovely driving experience. There are leather seats in the first and second row (leather-look in the third in this spec), and the front two are also heated/ventilated which I was quite grateful for in this freezing cold winter. The dash is made from 'vegan leather', and totally fooled me - it looks and feels like leather. 

The centre console is nicely designed and well set out  and everything looks and feels quite luxe. It was lovely to step into this week. 

How spacious is it?

Let’s start with the third row because that is why you’re looking at this model. It’s not the most spacious third row I’ve sat in. There are some cars where you can be quite comfortable in the back as an adult - but the Lexus RX 350L will fit kids pretty easily. I’m 161cm and needed to move the second row forward (which you can do) to make space for my knees, but once I did that is was fine to sit in. It’s not squishy once you’re in there, you’ve got your own ventilation controls and air vents and it still feels like you’re a part of the family. There’s also a top tether point for children’s carseats back here.

  • 2018 Lexus RX 350L. (image credit: Dean McCartney) 2018 Lexus RX 350L. (image credit: Dean McCartney)
  • 2018 Lexus RX 350L. (image credit: Dean McCartney) 2018 Lexus RX 350L. (image credit: Dean McCartney)
  • 2018 Lexus RX 350L. (image credit: Dean McCartney) 2018 Lexus RX 350L. (image credit: Dean McCartney)
  • 2018 Lexus RX 350L. (image credit: Dean McCartney) 2018 Lexus RX 350L. (image credit: Dean McCartney)
  • 2018 Lexus RX 350L. (image credit: Dean McCartney) 2018 Lexus RX 350L. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

The second row had loads of space for my two children aged four and six. I could also fit a third child’s seat in this row. With that row moved forward (to make space for people in the very back), I could sit comfortably with about 10cm of space to the front seats. 

The front is very spacious with lots of room for both me and my 185cm husband. The whole cabin has a good feel of airiness throughout. My husband was able to drive with the seat in his very relaxed (read: reclining) driving position without any complaints from the kids behind him. 

The boot is on the large side for a seven-seater. With all seven seats in use you get 211 litres of storage, it’s enough to stash a full load of groceries in or a few small suitcases. With five seats in use (which, if you’ve got two or three kids, is how you could potentially use this car and just gain the extra boot space), you’ll get 652L of cargo capacity. It’s plenty enough to fit most things a family will need. With all seats down flat, you’ll get 1656L of boot space. It’s big.

How easy is it to use every day?

It’s fairly high off the ground - for me anyway. My younger daughter had to be helped in and out but that wasn’t too big of a deal. The height makes you feel safe while driving, which I think most parents like (and why you pretty much only see SUVs around schools!). Leaning in to do kids seats up it was a good height, there was barely any bending involved which can save your back in the long run.

The boot opens automatically when you touch a button on the key, and closes with a button on the boot. (image credit: Dean McCartney) The boot opens automatically when you touch a button on the key, and closes with a button on the boot. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

There are six cupholders in total, two in each row, plus a bottle holder and storage in each door. There’s a decent sized centre storage bin with two USB outlets inside, plus you’ll get a Qi wireless phone charger in the front. The second row has air vents, as does the third row, which is fairly necessary in such a long car and through our hot Australian summers. 

The boot opens automatically when you touch a button on the key, and closes with a button on the boot. It’s a good height off the ground to lift groceries in and out of. 

What’s the tech like?

There’s an 8.0-inch multimedia screen in the RX 350L which runs on Lexus’ own tech - and there’s no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Connect your phone via Bluetooth and you can play music through Spotify and make calls. It also has a built in sat nav.

There’s great audio from the 10-speaker sound system for when you want to let loose and turn the music up. (image credit: Dean McCartney) There’s great audio from the 10-speaker sound system for when you want to let loose and turn the music up. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

I do find the Lexus hand controller for the multimedia screen tricky to use. It took me the full week to get used to it and I did improve over seven days, so I imagine you would eventually get good at it. But I don’t know why they’ve made something difficult when it could be simple. There’s great audio from the 10-speaker sound system for when you want to let loose and turn the music up. 

How safe is it?

The RX 350L has ten airbags, including side curtain airbags that extend to the third row, and also side airbags for the second row which is not something you’ll find in every seven-seater, and is a great inclusion. 

All the latest new safety tech comes standard, including auto emergency braking (AEB), blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane assist. 

There are four top-tether points for children’s car seats - three in the second row and one in the third row - and you’ll get two ISOFIX points.

What does it cost to own?

The Lexus RX 350L starts at $84,700. Fuel consumption is fairly heavy, but you’d expect that for an engine this size - Lexus claims it uses 10.2 litres per 100 kilometres for the petrol V6. Note, this car also comes in a hybrid version though I didn’t drive that one, and fuel consumption is much lower at 6.0L/100km. 

You’ll get a four-year/100,000km warranty, and it needs servicing every 12 months or 15,000kms.


The Wrap

I really enjoyed driving the Lexus RX 350L for a week. There’s enough space in all three rows with a large amount of boot space. It drives beautifully and I felt completely confident driving it this week. I gave it a family rating of 8.5 out of 10. My children also gave it an 8.5, they love having a spare row of seats in case we need to transport their friends around. 

Likes

Smooth drive
Luxe interior
Safety features

Dislikes

Third row could be a bit bigger
Fuel consumption

Scores

Nedahl:

4.3

The Kids:

4.3

$65,880 - $81,800

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