First seven seat RX450hL adds extra practicality and desirability to Lexus’ popular RX range.
The Lexus RX range has long been one of Lexus’ strongest selling model line-ups and for good reason: it’s beautifully made, is offered in a number of trim levels and drivetrains, including the potent RX450h hybrid and draped in all the luxury and prestige discerning buyers in this market segment could want.
However, up until now, the only Lexus offered with three rows of seats was the hulking LX570. Which is a size above the RX, and may be too large or costly for some customers. Enter the Lexus RX long wheelbase, or more specifically, the RX450hL as tested here.
The long wheelbase is an important car for Lexus, and finally gives it a rival to the likes of the Audi Q7, Mercedes-Benz GLS, BMW X5 and the venerable and brilliant Volvo XC90.
A number of long wheelbase RX variants are offered: the range starts with the RX350L Luxury which is priced from $84,329 and extends all the way to the RX450hL Sports Luxury as tested, which is priced from $110,240 plus on roads.
The RX450hL is powered by the same hybrid drivetrain as the standard RX450h, which consists of an excellent 3.5 litre petrol V6 which produces 193kW @ 6000rpm and 335Nm @ 4600rpm and is mated to an electric motor. A Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) helps shift power around to all four wheels.
Standard equipment on the Sports Luxury version is fairly comprehensive and includes: a 360 degree camera system, a re-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise, blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, a wealth of airbags, satellite navigation, an excellent Mark Levinson stereo, seven leather seats with heating and cooling up front and much more. Being a Lexus, the only option is metallic paint, which will set you back $1500.
Performance from that hybrid drivetrain is strong, the petrol engine/electric motor duo feel muscular but not overly sporty. That’s largely due to the whining CVT transmission, but, flick it into Sport + mode and the RX450hL will feel more than quick enough in a straight line. There’s a nice induction roar from that V6, too.
Combined fuel consumption isn’t bad either, during out test week we averaged around 9.5 litres per 100 kilometres.
It’s a similar story when it comes to handling – the ride is plush and excellent – the RX450hL feels big and heavy, without being cumbersome and intimidating. It is pleasant enough, just don’t approach this as a sporty SUV. If you want a hybrid seven seat SUV that feels properly rapid and a little lighter on its feet, may we suggest the Volvo XC90 T8.
Now, for a big part of this car’s appeal – the interior. The majority of the long wheelbase RX’s interior is shared with its five seat rivals: comfortable seats, attractive interior architecture, outstanding fit and finish and a true sense of luxury.
In the L, however, things get interesting beyond the second row of seats. The second row of seats tumble forward very easily to allow for seamless access to the third row. While not as well-padded as the first and second rows, they soft and supportive and third row passengers have their own climate control vents.
Rear most leg and headroom is snug, and probably best suited to children or adults on short trips. The RX450hL scores points for affording ample luggage space when all seats are in place – a feature not found on many seven seats SUVs – and they fold flat when not needed.
Stylistically, the long wheelbase RX is well proportioned too, and it takes more than a couple of glances to distinguish the seven seat version from its smaller brother.
Practical, capable and plush, the seven seat Lexus RX450hL is worth a look for those who seek prestige and space.