The Original Crossover Hybrid Gets Third Row Seats — Final-ly
At last week’s Los Angeles Auto Show automakers introduced a mixture of environmentally friendly, advanced technology vehicles along with traditional high-performance models appealing to a different market segment. At Clean Fleet Report we think there’s some high performance worth noting in the first group. This is one of several stories that will highlight the most significant news out of the show.
At the Los Angeles Auto Show the big Lexus LX SUV lost a couple of seats while the smaller RX hybrid and gas-powered crossovers gained them. This place the midsize RX in the same class of luxury three-row crossovers as the Acura MDX and Volvo XC90.
The new RX 450hL doesn’t have a longer wheelbase to accommodate the additional seating as you might expect. Instead, Lexus stretched the standard RX hybrid by 4.3 inches in the back and carved some space out of the cargo area. The cargo area is on the tight side, with enough space maybe for a stroller or a couple of carry-on suitcases. Of course, putting the seats down will provide a spacious place to haul a week’s worth of groceries.
Unlike its gas powered stablemate, the hybrid RX is offered only with a six-passenger layout with second-row captain’s chairs that make third-row ingress/egress easier with “walk-in” convenience. The gasoline counterpart is available in either a seven-passenger model with a second-row bench seat or second-row captain’s chairs. In either case, the second row sits slightly higher than the third, creating some much-needed foot room.
Passenger room in the way-back seats is best suited for children 12 and younger. However, tri-zone climate control is available, and gives those in steerage control of their own ventilation. There’s also two cup holders, but alas, no USB port.
As for the RX 450hL styling, the Lexus signature spindle grille continues, set off by an elegant chrome-plated surround and standard Bi-LED headlights. Out back, the longer version has a steeper tailgate and window angle, which helps improve headroom for third-row passengers. The spindle theme repeats at the rear, with L-shaped LED taillights enveloping the tailgate and wrapping into the rear fenders.
Same Hybrid Powertrain
The 2018 RX 450hL may carry more passengers, but it continues with the same hybrid powertrain. The Lexus Hybrid Drive system pairs an Atkinson cycle 3.5-liter V-6 gasoline engine with two high-torque electric drive motor-generators, producing 308 combined system horsepower. The standard all-wheel drive (AWD) system is unique. Instead of transfer gears and a driveshaft to the rear wheels used on the gasoline RX 350L AWD models, an independent rear-mounted electric motor drives the rear wheels when needed to help maintain optimal traction.
Pricing isn’t available at the moment for the RX 450hL, and it will reach dealers after the gasoline version in early 2018.
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