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    Categories: LA Motor ShowMSN Custom Autos

Lexus RX gains third row, additional safety at LA

One of our favourite ways to appreciate the Lexus RX has always been as a passenger in the second row. While the SUV’s driving dynamics are nothing to write home about, there is a certain Orient Express level of luxury and refinement that is best experienced while being chauffeured. The ride quality is superb.

Luckily for larger families or folks that need to ferry other folks around town, the RX now comes in a longer three-row L version. The new ute can be configured to seat six in complete comfort with second row captain’s chairs, or even up to seven passengers with a bench seat installed instead. The extra room comes courtesy of 4.3 extra inches of body length and some rather ingenious packaging, including a steeper tailgate angle to ensure third row headroom. Second row seats are slightly higher than the third row, creating additional room for feet.

Denizens of the rear rows also benefit from the 12-speaker audio that comes with the Navigation Package, which create sound clarity enough to both listen to music and have a conversation at the same time. The infotainment touchscreen gets a boost as well, jumping up from a generous eight inches to a colossal 12.3. USB ports in the middle row interface with the system.

Need more cowbell? An 835-watt Mark Levinson Surround System with 15 speakers can be added to the nav option. So much for conversation.

Though longer, the RX L is claimed to boast the same agility as the regular RX version, nor should the ride compromised in any way. It also gets the same standard lane keeping assist, intelligent radar cruise control, pedestrian detection, and pre-collision system as its two-row sibling. Full length side curtain airbags cover all three rows in the RX L. Advanced safety and drivers assists are the same for all models, such as blind spot monitoring, surround view camera, intuitive parking assist, and rear cross traffic braking.

What is new on the safety front is that the Lexus Enform Safety Connect service is now free for the first 10 years. The service includes an emergency assist button, roadside assistance, automatic collision notifications, and stolen vehicle notification.

Two RX L models will be available for 2018. The 350L is powered by a 290-horsepower V6 with 263 lb-ft of torque and comes in front- or all-wheel drive configurations. The 450hL is a hybrid model that uses the same engine but adds a rear-mounted electric motor for a total of 308 horsepower. The system drives the rear wheels when needed to maintain optimal traction, and can also be run as a full EV for short distances.

John Moroney :