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Lexus RX 350L: High efficiency SUV has 3 rows, expected luxury amenities

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When the market clamors for three rows of seating, the way it has been for a decade, and you don’t offer options in your stable – the buyers will go elsewhere. At Lexus, for the longest time, they didn’t offer anything between the hugely popular two-row RX and the costly Land Cruiser-based LX 570. No doubt, sales were lost – mostly because everyone is offering the mid-size SUV with some sort of row-three variant.

Well, problem solved. The all-new Lexus RX 350L has a third-row and it still looks gorgeous, even with the added length (L), though the exterior design is one of those style items that people tend to ‘love it’ or ‘hate it.’ I love it and once you get inside the cabin, you will too.

Looking at both the RX 350L next to the non-L is a little hard to tell the difference, but that’s a credit to the engineers at Lexus who added (4.4 inches) the extra space without compromising the exterior design cues that make the RX distinct.

Adding length to a vehicle can not only impact the exterior looks, but maybe, more importantly, it can negatively impact the driving experience. However, the new RX 350L is an impressive SUV that handles in crisp, responsive moves that are a delight to impart to the pavement no matter how many people are in the cabin.

This is a low driving position that is accentuated by a highly-responsive steering that makes this Lexus far more than a posh cruiser. If you choose to engage Sport mode, which introduces an increased level of steering weight and throttle/transmission response, you get an enhanced experience that definitely amps up the fun levels a bit.

The third row on the RX 350L could be accused of adding in the extra seating to simply qualify for the discussion (and the buyers) and that would be fair only because the competition does it all over the board. Sure, kids are fine back there, but there no leg room or head room for an adult to be comfortable.

I found the cargo space behind the third row to be pretty impressive compared to what I often find in these types of vehicle. At 16.3 cubic-feet, is darn right roomy and capable of handling all the groceries or sports stuff you might have to toss back there.

The base RX 350L offers a large list of tech and safety equipment. It is also available with extras such as a 12.3-inch display screen and a profoundly impressive Mark Levinson sound system.

The amount of standard equipment on the RX 350L is, as you might expect, pretty impressive. My tester featured the Luxury trim, which added extras to the standard equipment such as tri-zone climate control, LED lighting and a power-folding third-row seat. The Luxury trim level adds heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, upgraded leather upholstery, and heated second-row seats. The Luxury trim level is reasonably priced for the class.

If you’re looking for an RX with extra cargo capacity, the new 350L gives you that flexibility for an extra $3,900. The RX 350 is a great SUV and adding some additional space in an already-luxurious and accommodating cabin is a huge plus in my book.

With a price range of $47,670 – $54,085, the RX 350L delivers the noted additional length and the third row, but it does not take away anything from this award-winning luxury crossover – unless you count 0-60 mph time.

This auto review was researched and written by SteinPro Content Services and provided to the Sun-Times for publication