Lexus RX Luggage Test: How much fits in the cargo area?

The outgoing Lexus RX seemed to have ridiculously low cargo volume (16 cubic-feet), but that was because Lexus published the measurement taken between the cargo floor and the roll-out cargo cover. The industry norm is cargo floor to the roof. True, that makes the figure closer to what I do in luggage tests, but it still undersold the RX to a massive degree. As my luggage test of the previous-generation showed, it had no problem swallowing all six bags and even offered a sliding back seat that opened up space further. 

Now there is an all-new Lexus RX. The midsize SUV has a published 29.6 cubic-feet of space, which is far more in keeping with the actual space and almost certainly the measurement of floor to ceiling. At the same time, it’s also less volume than the average compact SUV (non-luxury). I’ll go into why that is later. Also, the new RX no longer has that sliding back seat, so what you see here is what you get apart from folding the seats down.

This is the cargo area, and I should note that it’s the cargo area of every version of the RX, including the RX 450h+ plug-in hybrid I tested. The cargo volume is the same, too. 

I do not know what’s under the floor in other trim levels (my guess is a spare tire or maybe additional bins as in the NX), but there are just some bins in the plug-in hybrid. Nothing that’s useful for bags, but you can store the charge cable. Not that you really need that in a plug-in hybrid, but whatever.

Let’s talk about the cargo cover. It is a giant cartridge-style cover and it does take up quite a bit of space. There’s no place to store it under the floor as in some SUVs nor was there a great place to store it atop the bags while testing, so I tested with and without the cover. (It should be noted that the Lexus NX has a different design and it’s superior, as I discovered in the NX luggage test)

As with every Luggage Test, I use two midsize roller suitcases that would need to be checked in at the airport (26 inches long, 16 wide, 11 deep), two roll-aboard suitcases that just barely fit in the overhead (24L x 15W x 10D), and one smaller roll-aboard that fits easily (23L x 15W x 10D). I also include my wife’s fancy overnight bag just to spruce things up a bit (21L x 12W x 12D).

Everything fits underneath the cargo cover. That’s a rarity among compact SUVs, and the reason I suspect the RX can do it is because of its extra width that counters the rather shallow floor-to-cover depth. 

Taking a look at this, though, I would say that this roughly the space you’d get with a 16 cubic-foot trunk (or thereabouts). Also, it’s pretty obvious that another duffle bag would fit, but that’s it. 

OK, let’s ditch the cover:

First, though, let’s talk about the RX’s cargo area height, or lack thereof. This would be the reason it doesn’t have as much volume as compact (non-luxury SUVs). The cargo area is almost wagon-like given how little space there’s between the ceiling and the big gray bag up there. 

As such, I did not stack the bags like that to maintain rear visibility. The body’s tumblehome also prevented me from placing the big bags upright in an outboard position (where the big blue bag is on its side).

OK, now let’s see how much I could actually fit inside given normal luggage test parameters.

Not bad at all! This would be my 38-quart cooler added to the usual assortment of bags. There’s also space between the cooler and the stood-up black bag I couldn’t fill with anything. You can also see that rear visibility is maintained and nothing will fly forward. 

So, this is obviously a solid performance, but also one you should probably expect from a midsize luxury SUV. It is also indeed better than the Lexus NX, but not by much. 

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