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Driven: Lexus stretches RX appeal with seven seater

Supersize me: The Lexus RX L large crossover is 110mm longer and 10mm higher than five-seat versions to accommodate the third row, while boot capacity stands at 176 litres with the pews up and 432L when folded.

Increased seating capacity also increases price to $84,700 BOCs for Lexus RX L


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20 Feb 2018

LEXUS Australia has slapped a premium of up to $3300 for its new seven-seat RX L SUV over its five-seat siblings, and the company says it expects the new addition to add incremental sales and ultimately account for almost a quarter of the RX’s overall volume.

Speaking to GoAuto at the launch of the new SUV in Byron Bay, Lexus Australia product planning manager Sajid Hasan said the car-maker expects the new RX L to cannibalise some sales from its five-seat stablemate, but that it would improve the model’s total bottom line.

“Approximately 20 to 25 per cent of total RX sales (will be of the seven-seat version),” he said.

“No doubt there will be some level of cannibalisation, but we do expect to see growth in total RX sales as well.”

Last year Lexus sold 1858 RX SUVS, a 2.8 per cent dip compared with its 2016 total, which was enough to secure it fifth place in the premium large SUV segment behind the BMW X5 (3582), Land Rover Range Rover Sport (2983), Audi Q7 (2664) and Mercedes-Benz GLE (2257).

Mr Hasan would not be drawn on expected volume of its updated RX line-up, but said the customer profile would largely be the same for the seven-seater.

“Expect those that are looking for a bit more convenience and those that actually may not have a second vehicle, so it’s still going to be families, those who may do the school run with friend’s kids, potentially grandparents living with their grandkids – similar buyer type,” he said.

Mr Hasan said the take-up of the hybrid version in the RX L is expected to mirror the five-seater, with about a third of buyers opting for the electrified powertrain.

“It’s probably going to be in line with where we are today, so approximately 30 per cent (will go for the hybrid version over the strictly petrol engine),” he said.

“The customers of RX, what we’ve heard is that they really appreciate the driving experience and fuel economy that the hybrid system offers.

“So a lot of our customers are visionary and like to set themselves apart and create their own brand, and this type of unique spec and badging really helps reinforce their branding.”

The RX L competes directly against other premium seven-seaters including the Volvo XC90, Audi Q7 and the Land Rover Discovery.

Stretching the standard five-seat RX by 110mm and raising the roof by 10mm in combination with a redesigned, steeper tailgate has allowed Lexus to liberate enough room in the rear to accommodate the third-row seats.

Overall length is now 5000mm, while the height measures 1700mm. Vehicle width and wheelbase remain the same at 1895mm and 2790mm respectively.

According to Lexus, the RX L “provides excellent head- and legroom for the third-row passengers while offering more cargo space behind the third row than competitor vehicles”.

With seats six and seven upright, the RX L offers 176 litres of cargo space and with the 50:50 split-fold third row stowed, rear space volume swells to 432L.

It is 966L with two rows folded.

Second-row seats can be folded with the touch of a button, while the middle pews can also slide forward an additional 45mm.

Additional foot-room is also given to the rear-most passengers as the second-row seats are positioned slightly higher.

Although the RX range kicks off from $74,251 before on-roads for the 175kW/350Nm 2.0-litre turbocharged five-seat RX300 (previously RX200t), that engine is not offered in seven-seat configuration.

Instead, buyers wanting third-row seats are offered either the V6 petrol RX350 or petrol-electric hybrid RX450h powertrains.

Under the bonnet of the five-seat RX350, the 3.5-litre V6 petrol motor makes 221kW of power and 370Nm of torque, however, with seven seats on board, the V6 motor’s outputs are revised down to 216kW/358Nm.

The decrease of 5kW/12Nm is a result of packaging restrictions allowing only a single exhaust system rather than the dual unit fitted to the five-seat vehicle.

Mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, the RX350L returns a fuel economy figure of 10.2 litres per 100km, emits 234 grams of CO2 per kilometre and has a zero to 100km/h time of 8.0 seconds.

In comparison, its five-seat sibling sips 9.6L/100km, emits 223g/km and will hit the landmark triple digits in an identical 8.0s.

Meanwhile the RX450hL uses the same hybrid powertrain as its five-seat sibling, with a 193kW/335Nm 3.5-litre V6 engine paired to a 123kW electric motor for a combined system output of 230kW.

The electrified powertrain is matched to a six-step continuously variable automatic transmission that returns a fuel consumption figure of 6.0L/100km (5.7L/100km in the five-seater), expels 137g/km of CO2 (versus 131g/km) and knocks down the 0-100km/h sprint time in 8.0s (7.7s in the two-row SUV).

Pricing for the seven-seat RX350L has risen $3300 over the five-seater for the Luxury grade to $84,700, while Sports Luxury versions have increased by $1600 to $101,500.

The RX450hL also receives the same price rises in seven-seat guise to $93,440 for the Luxury and $110,240 for the Sports Luxury.

Mid-tier F Sport grades are not offered in seven-seat guise.

As standard, the Luxury grades are offered with 10-way power adjustable front pews with heating and cooling functions, leather-accented interior for the two front rows, third-row seats finished in a durable synthetic covering, 12-speaker sound system, 20-inch wheels with new black centre caps, keyless entry and start, power-operated tailgate, and 8.0-inch infotainment screen with satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity and digital radio.

Seven-seat specific features include a redesigned rear panel, two 5V USB sockets for the second row, cupholders for third-row occupants, child-seat anchorage point for the third row, three 12V power sockets, three-zone climate control system with third-row vents and curtain-shield airbags that have been extended to protect passengers six and seven.

With the introduction of the RX L, Lexus has also lifted the safety equipment across its large crossover range with the brand’s Safety System+ now standard.

It includes autonomous emergency braking, pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist, in addition to 10 airbags, blind-spot monitoring, reversing camera with rear cross-traffic alert, hill-start assist, automatic wipers and headlights, tyre pressure monitoring system, and rear parking sensors.

Luxury grade buyers also have the option of adding a colour head-up display, moonroof (which replaces the sunroof found in five-seat RX vehicles) and smart key card for an additional $3500, which are standard on the top-spec Sports Luxury.

Stepping up to the flagship variant also adds a larger 12.3-inch infotainment system, 15-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, 14-way power adjustable front pews, heated second-row seats with fold-down arm rest controls, adaptive high beams, leather-accented and woodgrain steering wheel, and five-mode drive selector with adaptive suspension.

However, top-of-the-range seven-seat Sport Luxury grade retains the second-row seat’s manual adjustability in contrast to the five-seat RX Sport Luxury’s electronically controlled second-row pews.

Premium paint is offered for an addition $1500.

2018 Lexus RX L pricing*
350L Luxury (a)$84,700
450hL Luxury (a)$93,440
350L Sports Luxury (a)$101,500
450hL Sport Luxury (a)$110,240
*Excludes on-road costs

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