Review: Lexus RX L (2018)

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High level of standard kit. Very comfortable with excellent ride quality. Big boot.

Extra seats are tricky to access. Infotainment system is not the easiest to use.

Lexus RX L (2018): At A Glance

As the name would suggest, the RX L is a stretched version of the RX and also the first seven-seater that Lexus has sold in Europe. It means Lexus has a family car that can rival the likes of the Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90.

It's hybrid only in the shape of the 450h - there's no 200t as there was previously with the standard RX - and as hybrids go, this is one of the best. It's powerful, smooth and pulls strongly. In terms of economy you're looking at around 33mpg in the real world, not bad for a car this size with more than 300PS.

So is it just more than a slightly stretched RX? Well Lexus says that the L is 'effectively a bespoke new body style' although it does appear the word 'effectively' is being made to work very hard there. It does however have a whole new rear end, although it's actually only around 10cm longer.

Lexus has also made the angle of the tailgate window slightly steeper, to improve rear headroom. The problem however, is actually getting to those seats. The sloping design of the rear doors makes it tricky and once there there's precious little space, particularly to put your feet. Older teenagers who are having a growth spurt are unlikely to find it especially comfortable.

What the L does give you is a bigger boot. Fold those extra seats down (which happens electrically at the touch of a button) and there's a cavernous boot of 495 litres - around 50 litres more than the RX. It's a usefully large - and deep - space.

Where the RX L excels is in terms of comfort. The ride is supremely comfortable and while it is hardly the most dynamic of things to drive, its smooth nature makes up for it. There are a few gripes like the odd infotainment system with its touchpad controller, something that despite lots of use, we still don't think works very well, but overall the interior is finished to a very high standard.

Despite all Lexus's talk of a bespoke body, the RX L does feel like a compromise. The new rear end can't disguise the fact that this is a car that was designed as a five-seater but has been repurposed into something else.

If the extra seats are for very occasional use, you'll find the RX L does a very good as a comfortable and spacious family SUV, but if they're going to be used often, you may be better off looking elsewhere. 

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What does a Lexus RX L (2018) cost?

List Price from £53,350
Buy new from £47,660
Contract hire from £548.72 per month

Lexus RX L (2018): What's It Like Inside?

Lexus says it has used 'ingenious design and packaging' to ensure that the two third-row seats of the RX L are comfortable to use and easy to access. Sadly, though, this still feels like a compromise. While the back end has been redesigned, this is not a car that was designed to be a seven-seater from the outset and it shows.

The design of the rear door means it's tricky to get to the extra seats, despite the fact the middle row of seats slides and flips forward. Plus once in the back, you'll find precious little room for your feet and limited headroom too.

Of course this depends on your height, but with no Isofix back there, you're limited to what child car seats you can get in the back, plus we know many parents aren't happy with having young children right at the back of the car.

One the plus side, the two rearmost seats do have their own air conditioning controls, but there's also a hard plastic section between the two seats with a cupholder - not very comfortable when you're sat back there.

There's better news in terms of boot space. With the rear seats dropped down there's plenty of load space (495 litres) and the boot is deep, so you can fit a pushchair in there and still have plenty of space left in front of it. The seats fold down (and back up) electrically and a power tailgate is standard.

The middle row of seats has plenty of room and these also recline, so you can have a kip back here on a long journey. The seats themselves offer good support too.

What's not so good is the infotainment system. The RX L still uses the strange mouse-style controller, complete with haptic feedback. The system itself isn't that bad with a clear layout, but navigating around using the mouse isn't that easy, especially when you're on the move.

However, there are no gripes about the quality of the interior. While the button-heavy design may look a bit dated now, the RX L has a superbly made interior that is finished to a very high standard.

Standard equipment from launch:

SE has 18-inch, seven-spoke alloy wheels, Lexus Safety System+, Lexus Navigation with full European mapping, Reversing camera, Leather upholstery, Driver and front passenger eight-way power adjustable seats, Heated and ventilated front seats, Power steering wheel adjustment, Power-folding third row seats, Triple-zone climate control, Drive Mode Select – four modes, Power tailgate, Auto-dimming rear-view mirror, Auto-folding heated door mirrors with reverse tilt function, LED headlights with Automatic High Beam, Illuminated exterior door handles, Smart entry and start and Integrated roof rails.

Luxury adds 20-inch machined-face alloy wheels, Lexus Premium Navigation with 12.3-inch display and 12-speaker audio with single DVD player, Power tailgate with smart open/close function, Triple-zone climate control, Wireless smartphone charger, Intelligent Parking Assist, Rain-sensing wipers, Auto-folding, auto-dimming door mirrors with reverse tilt function, Triple-eye LED headlights with Automatic High Beam and LED sequential turn indicators.

Premier gets 20-inch alloy wheels with optional colour inserts, Colour head-up display, Illuminated scuff plates, Adaptive Variable Suspension, Semi-aniline leather upholstery, 10-way power driver and front passenger seat adjustment, Heated second row seats, Memory function for front seats, steering wheel and door mirrors, Drive Mode Select – five modes, Lexus Premium Navigation with 15-speaker Mark Levinson surround sound system, 360-degree Panoramic View Monitor, Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Power adjustable steering wheel with wood/leather inserts and integrated heater, Rear door sunshades, Card key, Triple-eye LED headlights with Adaptive High-beam System plus a sunroof

Child seats that fit a Lexus RX L (2018)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Lexus RX L (2018) like to drive?

The 450h system in the L is identical to the one in the standard RX. That means it's a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine alongside an electric motor. Combined these provide 308PS along with 335Nm of torque which gives the RX L strong performance when needed.

It's a car that's much happier when not rushed, but if you do want meaningful performance, the RX L will deliver with strong pulling power. If you've never driven a hybrid of this ilk before, it can be a little unnerving. The CVT gearbox means continual acceleration without any shifts, but it's the constant engine noise which is somewhat disconcerting.

That said, the V6 engine does sound good and you can happily make swift progress in the RX L if need be. It's not a car that wants to be thrown into corners - take it through a bend at speed and the tyres will soon squeal in protest. It's not terrible, it's just much more suited to a more relaxed style of driving.

The electric steering set up is devoid of much feel and tends to self centre a bit too eagerly for our liking, but it's responsive nonetheless and is nice and light to at low speeds to make parking easy.

While the RX L may not be especially dynamic, it does ride exceptionally well. It's very comfortable, especially on Premier models which get AVS adaptive variable suspension. This adjusts the dampers and shock absorbers depending on the road surface and the kind of driving, so it softens up on the motorway but will firm up in corners.

It's also very quiet, helped by lots of sound insulation, acoustic glass and foam inside the rear pillars to reduce wind noise.

In terms of economy, Lexus claims the RX 450hL will do around 47mpg (depending on whether you go for 18-inch or 20-inch wheels). Looking at Real MPG you're more likely to see a figure in the early 30s. If you pay BIK tax then the CO2 of 138g/km will mean you're paying less to the tax man than a similarly priced 3.0 TDI diesel Audi Q7.