The Lexus RX has long been Lexus’ top-selling model and one of the best-selling luxury vehicles in the U.S. Traditionally, the RX has been positioned between the compact and midsize segments and offers room for up to five passengers. Oddly, while the RX has dominated the 5-passenger space, Lexus has resisted introducing a standalone 3-row crossover SUV despite the segment’s skyrocketing popularity over the past decade. Instead, in an effort to capitalize off the name of its most popular model, Lexus introduced a slightly elongated version of the RX dubbed the RX 350 L (or RX 450 L in hybrid form) with a coveted third row. But while it technically has room for up to two additional passengers, the RX 350 L’s third row is about the smallest third row in history.
Here’s a look into the RX 350 L’s rear cargo area with the third row folded flat. The extra 4.4 inches of space do allow for a slightly larger cargo hold. The RX 350 L that I tested had an accessory rubber cargo mat that cleverly used Velcro to ensure it stayed fixed to the third-row seat backs when the seats were deployed.
As you can see here, with the RX 350 L’s third row deployed, there’s still a reasonable amount of cargo space remaining. But cargo space was never the issue here. The real issue is in the passenger area.
The RX’s second row captain’s chairs offer forward and rearward movement, and when they’re slid all the way back (and keep in mind that the RX isn’t exactly cavernous to begin with), the above image shows how much legroom the third row has. That’s right — none whatsoever.
To achieve just this much legroom in the RX’s third row (i.e. enough for a 4-year-old to fit their legs in the footwell), the second-row captain’s chairs have to be slid pretty far forward …
… which means the second row is no longer suitable for adults.
Here on the left, you can see the minimum amount of legroom available in the RX’s third row (none) and, on the right — with the passenger-side second row captain’s chair slid all the way forward — you’ll see that’s the most legroom you can get in the third row (enough for, maybe, a very small child).
In terms of overall cargo volume, the RX 350 L comes with 23.0 cu ft. of space behind the second row, which is how you’re likely to have it configured for day-to-day driving. With the third row in place, cargo volume is reduced to 6.2 cu ft. Fold the second and third rows flat, and you’re looking at a maximum of 58.5 cu ft. For reference, the regular RX offers 18.4 cu ft. behind the second row or 56.3 cu ft. with the second row folded. Compare those figures with proper 3-row crossovers such as the Acura MDX, which offers 43.4 cu ft. behind the second row, 15.8 cu ft. with the third row in place or 90.9 cu ft. with both the second and third rows folded flat. Or, there’s the Kia Telluride, which has 46.0 cu ft. behind the second row, 21.0 cu ft. with the third row up and 87.0 cu ft. with both rows folded flat. It becomes clear that the RX 350 L isn’t in the same territory as mainstream 3-row crossovers with regard to overall size.
If you want a better visual of the space in the Lexus RX 350 L’s third row, check out the video linked above. Either way, the verdict is this: While it technically offers a third row and seating for up to seven passengers — or six with second-row captain’s chairs — the RX 350 L is still too small for the needs of most 3-row SUV shoppers, and buyers wanting a family SUV with space for more than five people and all of their stuff will most likely want to look elsewhere. Find a Lexus RX 350 L for sale
Chris O’Neill grew up in the Rust Belt and now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. He worked in the auto industry for awhile, helping Germans design cars for Americans. Follow him on Instagram: @MountainWestCarSpotter.
MORE FROM OVERSTEER
Here’s What the Kia Telluride and the Hyundai Palisade Look Like Parked Next to Each Other
5 Malaise-Era Classics On Autotrader
Autotrader Find: 1998 Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4 with 9,000 Miles