2019 Lexus RX 350L AWD Luxury Review

One posh three-row afterthought


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Impeccable construction and quality, interior feels truly luxurious, easy to drive, ample grunt from the V6 engine, sumptuous front seats.
Negatives: Floaty in the turns, looks awkward from some angles, third row is almost useless, infotainment system is still frustrating to use while driving.
Bottom Line: The RX 350L is a well-made crossover that has just the right amount of premium equipment without going overboard, and it drives and rides comfortably. It's too bad the third row isn't really practical for shuttling people, even kids. Stick with the two-row, and you'll save a bit of money, as well as frustration.
Lexus saw fit to give the world a three-row crossover that's not a lumbering ox like the LX and GX models. They didn't have something that might appeal to those who didn't want a body-on-frame SUV. So, instead of building a totally new model, the stretched out their best-selling RX crossover and smushed in another row. The RX 350L was all-new for 2018, and it carries on into this year without many changes. We drove the top trim Luxury model for a week to see if adding a row does anything for families who need more seating. Read on for our detailed review.
 

Driving Experience

7.5

 

The RX isn't one of those vehicles that's meant to provide a thrilling driving experience, but it doesn't mean the RX isn't good to drive. In fact, it's remarkably solid, composed, and easy to drive. It does just what it was meant to do.

Ride Quality: It's a truly comfortable ride with excellent suspension compliance without feeling overly mushy like the LX.

Acceleration: The RX 350L hits 60 mph in about 7.5 seconds, which isn't particularly fast but sufficient to get to highway speeds well.

Braking: The brakes need better feel since there's some mushiness in the pedal, and the nose dives under hard braking. It just doesn't feel very confident.

Steering: Steering is absent of feedback, and it's light. It is, however on center at high speed and fairly accurate. We had no trouble placing it turns or manuevering around parking lots.

Handling: The RX 350L is floaty in the turns and exhibits noticeable body roll. While it didn't prevent us from managing on S-curves, we would like to see things firm up a bit, even if it means sacrificing some of the ride comfort.

Technology

6.8

 

The interior of the Lexus RX would be a fine place for an excellent infotainment system, but sadly that's not what we get in the 350L. Though there have been some functional improvements, the controls need help in a big way.

Infotainment System: In Luxury Trim you do get a pretty large 12.3" touchscreen, which certainly looks nice. Menus could be a little bit easier, and the responsiveness level is slow.

Controls: The steering wheel controls and HVAC controls ares solid and easy to use. We also like the physical audio knobs. It's the vague joystick for the Enform system that needs work. It's actually horrible to use while driving since it's so imprecise. Lexus has GOT to fix this.

Styling

7.7

 

The RX 350L gains a few inches of length past the back wheel, and that makes it look a little weird. The dimensions of the the two-row RX give it better proportions than the longer brother, and it's hard enough to love the rakish styling that doesn't come with an F Sport package.

Front: Lexus's angularity has grown on us, but we can't get past the triangular foglight housings. Thank goodness they will be gone in the 2020 model. Though the grille frame is a bit thick for our liking, the overall look of the front end is attractive and distinct.

Rear: We like the intricate taillights, and the pinched effect mimics the front. It just looka a bit tall in the back since the bumper is so damned thick.

Profile: The dark blue "Nightfall Mica" paint keeps the RX 350L looking tidy from the side, but the front overhang still seems a bit long. We do like the floating roof on the RX, and the complex wheel design looks great, too.

Cabin: The RX 350L's cabin is stunning in Luxury trim. The rich grey perforated leather, high-quality brushed metallic trim pieces, and the nautical-themed wood center console material are all very pleasing to the eye. It's substantially better than the last RX.

Comfort

8

 

Say what you will about Lexus wanting to offer more in their RX in terms of seating. But sometimes more is less, and that's the case here. Though it's longer, we feel like the only thing that grew was the price. All passengers have to suffer for this afterthought of a third row. That said, Lexus does make some great seats for the front row occupants.

Front Seats: Plush and supportive, the front seats are some of the best in the business. They also look great. Legroom suffers a little due to row 3.

Rear Seats: Second row passengers also take a hit to wedge in that third row, which has no room for adult legs. It's a joke back there, and there's really no point since getting back there takes a contortionist and staying back there takes a masochist.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): It's as quiet as a grad school library on a Sunday after finals week. This thing is built like a tank.

Visibility: The thick C-pillar and sloping roofline results in small glass and bad sightlines out backk. Otherwise, it's good out the front and sides, and the seating position is good for placement in tight spaces. The cameras, though, are an absolutely necessity, and the Panoramic View Monitor is superb.

Climate: The climate system works very well, and the heated and cooled seats are quick to respond and very effective. The heated steering wheel is the kind of feature Chicagoans soil themselves over.

Safety

9.3

 

The RX gets excellent crash safety scores but misses the top mark. It also has a superb set of standard safety tech that should reassure every owner.

IIHS Rating: It gets the Top Safety Pick for next year's model but not for 2019, and we're not sure why since it nailed all the crash tests has "good+" for accident avoidance tech.

NHTSA Rating: Five stars from the federal goverment means the RX gets top scores.

Standard Tech: The RX 350L gets the excellent Lexus Safety System+ with Pre-Collision System w/ Pedestrian Detection, All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Intelligent High Beam Headlamps, Lane Departure Alert w/ Steering Assist & Lane Keep Assist. It's a robust grouping that performs well.

Optional Tech: The Luxury trim model we drove came with a Blind Spot Monitor with Intuitive Parking Assist w/ Auto Braking. The car really does have virtually everything you could want for safety.

Storage/Cargo

7.3

 

Though the cabin isn't exactly awesome for small item storage, it does have accessible and usable space, just not as much as three-row crossover should have. Some of the sacrifice is due to the styling. The three row gains some rear cargo space, but it doesn't make it huge inside.

Storage Space: There's a small cubby at the base of the center stack and cupholders to house small items. The armrest has decent room, but it's not especially deep.

Cargo Room: The three row grows from 6.22 in the two row to 18.4 cubes behind row three, and from 34.11 in the regular RX to 58.48 cubes with the seats folded flat. Even the not so big Mazda CX-9 (which costs way less) has 14.4 cubes behind row three and 71.2 cubes total.

Fuel Economy

6.8

 

The RX 350L gains some weight over its two-row brother (about 300 pounds), and that vehicle's not exactly miserly. We drove it in Sport mode 100% of the time, which also contributed to our mediocre gas mileage.

Observed: 17.1 mpg.

Distance Driven: 119 miles.

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Audio

9.7

 

The upgraded Mark Levinson premium audio system is one of our favorites, and it delivers some of the best in-car sound of any brand. The notes were rich, full, and there was plenty of deep bass with no distortion. Is it worth over $3K for the package? We'll let you decide. You won't be disappointed by the sound quality, that's for sure.



Final Thoughts

The RX is Lexus's best-selling vehicle for a reason. It offers style, composure, comfort, and reliability that's at the front of the pack. The addition of a third row is a minus in our book because it's just not enough space to justify the extra cost, and the added weight makes it handle even more poorly compared to the two-row. What it does offer is excellent build quality and overall comfort, but you can get that in the regular RX. We can't imagine anyone would sit in the very back. Stick with the two row, or go with the Acura MDX.
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