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Just a few weeks ahead of the LA Auto Show, Lexus is getting ready to roll out its first stretch version of the long-serving RX crossover. The impetus for the three-row model has been an industry-wide rush to offer a third row of seats in midsize and full-size crossovers and SUVs, so it was only a matter of time before Lexus and Toyota felt pressured to do so in something other than the truck-like GX.

The RX 350L and the RX 450hL hybrid version, the latter which will arrive later in the year, won’t actually be stretched at the wheelbase — this was evidently undoable for engineering reasons — but will rather feature a longer D-pillar rear compartment and overhang. Essentially, the RX will carve out space by taking some from the cargo area and stretching the rear overhang by several inches to buy just enough room for two extra seats.

2018 Lexus RX 350L rendering

The RX 350L is expected to gain more room for a third row of seats via a longer rear section rather than a wheelbase stretch, as seen in our rendering. Photo by Autoweek

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Earlier this year, Japan’s Mag-X published a leaked cutaway image of the three-row version of the RX, confirming that third-row passengers will¬†not have a whole lot of room back there. But the more bulbous rear compartment should buy the RX a little more cargo room, so the trade-off for having two extra passengers won’t be doing away with cargo space entirely.

In a way, it’s surprising that Toyota has avoided giving the RX a third-row option until now — you can bet that the next-gen model will be designed with the third row in mind since the RX now faces much stiffer competition from segment veterans and newcomers alike. Among those newcomers is the Volkswagen Atlas, which was designed with a third row from the beginning, as well as the newly redesigned Acura MDX and Volvo XC90.

Stay tuned for the RX 350L’s launch and much more from the LA Auto Show in just a couple weeks.¬†