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Driven: Lexus SA's first 7-seater RX350L

2018-03-01 14:48

Image: Wheels24 / Janine Van der Post


Lexus RX 350L

2018-02-27 11:44

Lexus presents the all-new RX 350L.

Janine Van der Post

Hermanus - The Lexus RX was launched a decade ago in 1998 and since then, 1.4-million units have been sold worldwide. It's one of three SUVs in the Lexus stable, with a fourth arriving in early 2019 - the new UX compact SUV.

In 2017 the automaker sold 146 000 units of the RX.

Lexus has now added the RX350L to its line-up as its first seven-seater in the range. The SUV,  says Lexus, is bigger, more practical and more refined.

7 seats at last

The two biggest changes in the RX range is the addition of two extra seats in the RX350L and the advanced safety package available in the RX450h.

READ: This is how much the Lexus RX 350L costs in SA

The RX350L is 110mm longer than the base RX350 and 10mm wider. The second row of seats are positioned slightly higher than the front row to enable more legroom for third row occupants.  

The second row also has a tilt and slide function making it so much easier for third row occupants to access the rear seats, the second row can slide 45mm more forward.

One of the things I dislike most in seven-seaters is faffing around with the third row seats, especially when seating child passengers. The third row in the new RX has a power-folding option making life so much more pleasant and simple when having to load up the boot.

There's also 3-way climate control with the third row occupants having their own controls.

Another highlight is the 12.3" (31cm) colour display screen on the fascia, along with a 15-speaker Mark Levinson sound system. For those who don't know, Lexus is the first automaker who created a refined and quiet enough vehicle for the said sound system to be used in its cars.

While we're talking about the back end of the car, the boot is humongous. We were a group of four motoring journalists in one vehicle, so that means everyone's bags had to go in one vehicle. 

One night yes, but all of us had at least two items each, excluding handbags. With the third row seats folded flat, there are 432-litres of luggage space available, and 966 litres when the second row is folded flat. 

Ther RX range, specifically the RX350L is available in 8 body colours; my favrouite being opulent blue, morello red and a beautiful brown colour called Amber. These three have beautiful specks of glitter in the paint making its finish look spectacular. Lexus also reckons the sleek ecru colour is a pearl/beige paint.

What's it's like to drive?

Under the bonnet is a 3.5-litre V6 2GR-FKS engine, kicking out 216kW at 6300rpm and 358Nm from 4600-4700rpm. It's mated to an eight-speed sequential shift automatic gearbox.

Due to the addition of the third row seat, it means there is now a single exhaust instead of the dual system fitted to RX 350, resulting in small reductions in power and torque  of 5kW and 12Nm.

The RX350L is luxurious to drive with sleek styling, along with its distinctive Lexus spindle grille along with and chrome-plated surrounds and headlights. When cruising along, its quiet, agile and feels completely refined. 

However, with us being four up in the vehicle, it meant the air con was in use for the entire journey. 

There are heatable and ventilated seat functions not only in the front of the car,  but for the second row passengers too. This means all four seats, either being on the heat or cool function, also contributed to the fuel consumption usage. 

Also, with four different people meant four different driving styles too and various factors such as stop/go traffic, urban driving and open stretches.

The fuel consumption stayed at an average 19.4-litres/100km. It came down to 17.1-litres but the lowest one of us managed to reach was 14.3-litres/100km.

It's a large vehicle, and it's incredibly heavy too and while I could give it some foot on an open road, it literally felt like I was trying to do an uphill sprint with a bag of dumbells on my back. When we took it through the Franschhoek Pass, body roll was discernable. With that said, we weren't slowly cruisisng along and under normal conditions, at a more acceptable pace to take in the beauty of the pass, it would make for a pleasant drive. 

Rivals for the RX includes the BMW X5 xDrive, Volvo XC90 and Land Rover's Velar.

What's new on the RX350L?

The Lexus RX 350L features LED headlights, daytime running lights, front fog lights, a 12.3" audio display screen, satnav, 12 speakers, 20" alloy wheels with black centre caps, smart entry and start, roof rails and rear privacy glass.

Front seats comes with 10-way power adjustment and driver's seat memory. Leather upholstery covers the first two rows of seats while the third row offers a durable synthetic covering to support regular folding of the seats, says the automaker.

Lexus further adds that a 'moon roof' replaces the panoramic glass fitted to five-door variants and the second-row seats are manual instead of power-operated in the RX350.

Standard on all RX models are LED daytime running lights, front window wipers with rain sensing auto as well as Elecronic Multi-vision (EMV) Navigation System and tonneau cover.


RX350 - R916 600
RX350L EX - R949 300
RX450h - R1 222 600

All models are availalbe with a four-year/ 90 000km maintenance plan. 

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