Lexus RX L

FIRST DRIVE Ver­dict on pre­mium brand’s first seven-seater

Auto Express - - CONTENTS - James Brodie James_brodie@den­ @jim­my­brods

Elec­tri­fied SUV gets big­ger seven-seat op­tion

THE ES (Page 30) isn’t the only new Lexus ar­riv­ing in the UK in the com­ing weeks. While the RX L you see here will look fa­mil­iar, it’s ac­tu­ally the firm’s first seven-seater, and it hopes to cap­ture the imag­i­na­tion of growing fam­i­lies in search of a lux­ury hy­brid SUV.

The Lexus RX L’s head­line is that third row of seats, squeezed into a car just 110mm longer than the stan­dard model. It’s a sub­tle re­design, with the only real changes made at the rear of the SUV. The wheel­base is the same, but there’s a slightly longer over­hang and a more up­right rear wind­screen, cre­at­ing a taller roof for oc­cu­pants right at the back.

Lexus says that chil­dren should be com­fort­able on long jour­neys, but it’s a squeeze for adults. An Audi Q7 is more gen­er­ous here, al­though pas­sen­gers in the RX get their own air-con con­trols. Climb­ing back there isn’t too dif­fi­cult, ei­ther; the open­ing is a bit nar­row, but fold­ing the sec­ond-row seat­backs and slid­ing the bench for­ward is done with one lever. Sim­i­larly, the two seats in the boot fold flat at the touch of a but­ton.

The slightly longer rear end sees boot space grow from 453 litres to 495 litres when five seats are in place. It’s not enough to over­come the load ca­pac­ity com­pro­mise cre­ated by the car’s hy­brid pow­er­train, though; a Q7 pro­vides a whop­ping 770 litres in five-seat mode.

De­spite hav­ing over 300bhp un­der the bon­net, the RX L won’t set pulses rac­ing from be­hind the wheel. The drive se­lec­tor fea­tures a Sport mode, but the RX L feels slug­gish un­der full throt­tle.

In­stead (like the ES) this is a car you’ll get the best out by driv­ing smoothly. Ride qual­ity is good at all speeds, while the smooth hy­brid as­sis­tance and re­fine­ment make the RX L re­lax­ing to drive.

The ex­tra weight of the third row of seats and ad­di­tional body­work means claimed econ­omy takes a knock, mind, dip­ping from 51.4mpg to 47.1mpg.

V6 hy­brid de­liv­ers 308bhp, but the Lexus still feels slug­gish on the road

RX L is 110mm longer than reg­u­lar car; it’s at its best when driven smoothly

In­te­rior is as solidly fin­ished and gen­er­ously equipped as in the stan­dard RX

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