Big hopes for three-row RX

New Zealand appears to be among the first export markets for something new from Lexus, a seven-seater edition of the popular RX.


POTENTIALLY 50 percent of next year’s predicted volume of a popular Lexus soft-roader will be accounted for by a just-revealed seven-seater edition probably just three months away.

This prediction comes from the brand’s top man in New Zealand.

Paul Carroll says he is excited by the potential of the seven seat version of the hitherto purely five chair RX.

“We expect around half of our sales will be the new three-row,” says Lexus New Zealand’s senior general manager.

“It’s been designed especially for good comfort, being longer and higher than the conventional two row, so we think it will suit a lot of customers.”

Revealed at last week’s Los Angeles motor show, the ‘L’ model will restrict here to pure 216kW/358Nm 3.5-litre V6 petrol and 230kW/335Nm V6 petrol-electric hybrid formats, with the highest-level Limited trim, even though other grades are being built. The 2.0-litre turbo models are exempt.

New Zealand market build begins this month, so it should be on sale February, or March at the latest, though there’s a pitch to arrange for demonstrators to land earlier.

Price has yet to be determined but Carroll promises it will be competitive. He would not comment on the potential of it carrying a premium over the equivalent five-seater.

Despite the perceived demand shift, the six current five-seat models currently offered will all continue.

“The Lexus RX L is the epitome of a luxury vehicle for extended families that require more than five seats in a prestige SUV,” Carroll suggests.
“The benefits of seven-seats for family life are substantial. For larger families taking one vehicle to sports events, recitals, and restaurants is a game-changer.” 

Lexus internationally perceives the new three-row car will take the fight to the Audi Q7, Volvo XC90 and new Land Rover Discovery.

To make space for the third row, Lexus has extended the model’s length by 110mm at the rear. As these images show, it also has a steeper tailgate window angle to make sure occupants have ample headroom, as well as enough cargo space behind the third row.

The third row is positioned slightly lower than the second row to ensure passengers have adequate foot room. Second-row head and legroom is 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.

The RX ‘L’ has Lexus Safety System Plus as standard. This 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 RX350 has an eight-speed automatic transmission whereas the hybrid uses a continuously variable transmission.