Apr 17, 2020 - Economy

What we're driving: The Lexus RX 350L

The interior of the Lexus RX 350L.

The Lexus RX 350L comes with third-row seating. Photo: Lexus

This week I'm driving the Lexus RX 350L, a stretch version of the luxury carmaker's best-selling RX crossover utility.

Why it matters: Lexus needed to add a third row to the RX to keep up with competitors, but it's probably best to park little kids back there, not grandma or teenagers.

What's new: The 2020 RXL gets rid of Lexus' annoying mouse-like Remote Touch controller on the center console and replaces it with a slightly less awkward touchpad. At least the infotainment system now has touchscreen capability. None of the interfaces are ideal, which is true in most cars today.

  • The RXL starts at $47,300. My loaded version was $63,540, including delivery and handling charges.

Many assisted driving features are standard in the RXL, including more sensitive camera and radar systems that can detect daytime bicyclists as well as pedestrians even in low light.

  • I liked that road signs are clearly displayed in the instrument panel, too.

I had a little more trouble with Lexus' "lane tracing assist" technology, which is designed to keep the vehicle in the center of the lane while using dynamic cruise control.

  • If road markings are not detected, the system is also capable, in certain conditions, of following the car ahead of it.
  • During my drive, it was cloudy, the roads were wet and there were snow flurries. I saw no reason why the system shouldn't work.
  • Still, the car annoyingly slowed down and sped up with each rise or dip in the road, and it frequently latched on to cars in other lanes when the road curved ever so slightly.

My thought bubble: This is why drivers turn off driver-assistance technology that doesn't inspire confidence, defeating its potentially life-saving benefits.

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