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LA show: Lexus adds third row to RX

Lucky seven: Lexus has lengthened the rear of the RX SUV by 110mm to accommodate the third seating row.

Seven-seat Lexus RX SUV to take on Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90

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Lexus logo30 Nov 2017

By TIM NICHOLSON

LEXUS has boosted the family appeal of its RX large SUV by adding a seven-seat version that will land in Australian showrooms in February next year.

Revealed at the Los Angeles motor show, the new three-row RX will take the fight to other seven-seat SUVs in the segment, including the Audi Q7, Volvo XC90 and new Land Rover Discovery, while other big sellers such as the Mercedes-Benz GLE and BMW X5 make do with five seats only.

Lexus will offer the ‘L’ variant with its petrol-electric hybrid and the V6 petrol engines, and the variants will be dubbed RX350L and RX450hL respectively. The 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol variants will not be offered with the third row.

It is unclear whether it will be available with all three Lexus model grades – Luxury, F Sport and Sports Luxury – or if the ‘L’ is a spec grade in its own right.

To ensure there was enough space for the third row, Lexus has extended the length of the third-generation RX by 110mm at the rear.

It has a steeper tailgate window angle to make sure occupants have ample headroom, as well as enough cargo space behind the third row, which Lexus is claiming is “class leading”.

The third row is positioned slightly lower than the second row to ensure passengers have adequate foot room, while second-row head and legroom are the same as in the five-seat versions.

The 60:40 split-fold third row can accommodate child seats as well as adults and Lexus says it has been designed to offer the same levels of comfort and luxury as the second row.

Third-row passengers have access to separate air-conditioning controls and vents as well as two cupholders and the third row can be accessed via a one-touch lever to fold and slide the second-row seats.

Pricing and specification will be confirmed closer to the launch date, but Lexus has confirmed the RX ‘L’ will be offered with Lexus Safety System+ as standard, which includes a pre-collision safety system with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning with steering assist, automatic high beam, blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert as well as 10 airbags with full-length side curtain airbags covering all three rows.

Other features include 20-inch wheels, a hands-free power tailgate, a flat load floor behind the third row and a stowable tonneau and covered slide rails.

The engines remain unchanged, with the 350 using the 216kW/358Nm 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine matched with an eight-speed automatic transmission and the Lexus Dynamic Torque Control all-wheel-drive system.

RX450hL variants continue to use the petrol-electric hybrid system that pairs the 3.5-litre V6 with two electric drive motor generators for a combined system output of 230kW/335Nm driving all four wheels via a continuously variable transmission.

Lexus also revealed a new five-seat version of its hulking LX570 SUV at the LA show, which drops the third row of the standard version for 15 per cent more cargo space, but Lexus Australia confirmed that there are no plans to offer it Down Under alongside the seven-seat LX.

The RX is tracking 0.1 per cent ahead of last year’s sales tally to the end of October, with 1667 units shifted. It is fifth in the premium large SUV segment behind the BMW X5 (3170), Range Rover Sport (2499), Audi Q7 (2286) and Mercedes-Benz GLE (1982), but is outpacing the freshly launched Land Rover Discovery (1224) and ageing Volkswagen Touareg (1379).

One segment up, the LX has found 35 homes this year, a 14.2 per cent lift, and is second only to the Mercedes-Benz GLS with 74 sales.

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