By Steven Hicks

Wheels-Lexus-This-is-BigWhat’s this? An article on a vehicle in SpaceCoast LIVING? Well, sure! We do our research. We know that a large majority of our readers drive, and many drive their children or grandchildren regularly. So when Lexus of Melbourne tells us they have a new three-row crossover, we’re thinking some of you might want to know.

Any Stoplight in Brevard

Have a look around. If the Space Coast had an official luxury vehicle, you could make a good argument for Lexus. We love our Acuras, Audis, Cadillacs, Infinitis, Mercedes, Porsches, Range Rovers and Volvos, too (those are listed alphabetically by the way, no inference of preference). The RX350 luxury crossover seems to be the model of choice for a very large number of us. It actually is Lexus’ most popular vehicle, accounting for 34.5 percent of their sales worldwide. What’s not to like? It is big (but not too big), roomy, sporty and reliable. With the Lexus RX, Lexus actually defined the crossover category, and it is still the biggest seller by at least a 2-to-1 margin. So what is missing? Why this article?

Add Two-and-a-Half More People

That’s the news. Lexus has stretched the RX 4.3 inches to become the RXL, and added a third row. In parent-speak, that means all five or six kids can sit in the back two rows and still have room for their lacrosse accouterments behind the last row (the last row is vinyl, not leather, so put the muddy ones back there). It means shopping trips last longer with more room for friends and finds. It also enters the showroom as one of the most affordable three-row luxury sport utility/crossover vehicles. Yes, we said, “affordable” and “Lexus” in the same sentence. We talked to T.R. Page, Lexus of Melbourne’s owner/general manager, and he tells us he’ll have these in their showroom as you read this. But, be forewarned, if these sell like the shorter RX, you’d better hurry, they won’t last long. We suggest the AWD (all-wheel drive) for confidence in our heavy rains.

The Specs

Like the regular-size RX350, you’re going to get a combined 22 MPG with its V6 engine, and a cruising range of almost 500 miles between fill-ups on a trip (365 around town). It will be available as front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, and as a hybrid. Lexus says it will tow 3,500 pounds of personal watercraft or that small utility trailer full of football and cheer gear for the team. The RXL also features a touch-free power rear door and a panoramic view monitor for a bird’s eye view of your surroundings. Lexus continues to offer one of the safer vehicles on the road today.

What Do You Drive

Generally speaking, if you open the door and sit down into your vehicle and it has a trunk or hatchback, you drive a car. If you open the door and climb up into your vehicle and it has a door on the back, or large open areas, that’s a truck or SUV (sport utility vehicle). And most recently, if you open the door and ease right into your seat without dropping in or needing a handle to pull yourself up, that’s a crossover or CUV (crossover utility vehicle). Mechanically speaking (but still being general), an SUV is based on a truck. A Lexus GX460 is broadly based on a Toyota 4Runner, a Chevrolet Tahoe is based on a Chevy Silverado, etc. A crossover is based more on a car’s platform. The Lexus RX350 is broadly based on a Toyota Camry, and the popular NX200t on the Toyota Corolla. ◆