The Lexus RX 350 is a sharp crossover SUV with style and luxury that's at home in the city, but what about when you need a getaway? Can you tow a trailer with the Lexus RX? We've done all the research, and here's the lowdown:
The Lexus RX 350 can tow up to 3,500 lbs with the towing prep package. This towing capacity is plenty for most lightweight trailers with the proper setup. Lexus does not recommend towing with the RX 350 without the towing prep package.
In this article, we'll take an in-depth look at towing with your Lexus, including several great campers that fall under the RX 350's towing capacity. We'll also cover towing with other vehicles from Lexus and how to get your Lexus tow-ready. Read on to learn all about it.
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What do you need to tow a trailer with the Lexus RX 350?
Lexus does not recommend towing with all of their RX 350's on the road or the market. They only recommend towing if your vehicle is equipped with their towing prep package. This package includes a heavy-duty radiator as well as engine and transmission coolers. Be sure to ask your dealer for these upgrades if you plan on towing.
You'll also need a properly installed hitch receiver and hitch that are rated for at least 3,500 lbs to get the full towing potential from your RX 350. When purchasing your vehicle, your best bet is to have these installed by the dealer, but aftermarket installation is also possible.
You can get the official hitch receiver directly from Lexus. Third parties also have less expensive options, like this custom-fit 2" hitch receiver from Draw-Tite. Always check that all parts are compatible with your model year.
Unless you have extensive experience and all the necessary equipment, it is best to have your hitch receiver installed by a professional.
You can learn more about towing a trailer in our article, "Towing Capacity and Trailer Weight."
Can a Lexus RX 350 tow a camper?
The average camper trailer weighs around 5,000 lbs, putting it out of range for the Lexus RX 350's 3,500-lb towing capacity. However, lightweight and ultralightweight campers have seen a surge in popularity over the past decade, meaning that many great camper options are perfect for the RX 350.
Just because a camper is lightweight doesn't mean you have to compromise on substance. Many manufacturers are using creative and clever designs with high-quality, lightweight materials. Some of these featherweight campers pack on features without the pounds.
The RP-180 by Forest River
Part of Forest River's R-Pod line, the RP-180 includes many features you would expect from a larger camper in a lightweight package.
One of the most impressive features for a camper so light is the bathroom. While most lightweight campers save on weight by combining the toilet and shower or leaving the bathroom out altogether, the RP-180 makes no such sacrifices. You'll find a standard toilet, sink, and enclosed shower in this R-Pod's full lavatory.
Other luxuries the RP-180 manages to keep include the kitchen, which features a two-burner stove, sink, overhead storage, and a surprisingly spacious refrigerator. The kitchen slides out when set up to open up the space. Opposite the kitchen, you'll find a dinette that converts into a bed, also featuring overhead storage.
You can save the dinette bed for guests or kiddos because the RP-180 already has a luxurious queen-size bed for you and your special someone. The curved window by the bed gives you a great view of the sky when you're ready to take it easy.
With an unloaded vehicle weight of 2,950 lbs, be sure to be mindful of how much cargo you load in it so as not to exceed your towing capacity.
You can see a brief tour of the RP-180 in the video below.
The Clipper Ultra-Lite 17FQ by Coachmen
The Clipper Ultra-Lite 17FQ from Coachmen is another trailer that gets a lot done in under 3,500 lbs.
It has many of the same great features that we saw in the RP-180. This camper has a full bathroom, a kitchen, a dinette with plenty of overhead storage, a queen-size master bed, and a small bed made from the dinette.
It does differ from the R-Pod in some areas too. The Clipper Ultra-Lite has a skylight above the shower and ventilation above the toilet. The kitchen doesn't feature a slide-out, so there is a little less counter space. There are also fewer and smaller windows around the bed in the Clipper.
The Clipper Ulta-Lite 17FQ is also slightly heavier than the RP-180. It weighs in at 3,064 lbs unloaded, so you'll need to be even more mindful when loading your cargo.
You can see this camper in the video below:
The Sportsmen Classic 130RB by KZ Trailers
The Sportsmen Classic 130RB is a lighter option for a camper trailer. With an unloaded vehicle weight of just 2,240 lbs and a gross vehicle weight rating of 2,800 lbs, you won't have to worry about your cargo exceeding your Lexus RX 350's max.
This camper also includes a bathroom with the toilet and shower separated. The kitchen is indoor and features some overhead storage. Like the others we've seen, a dinette converts into sleeping spaces. Unlike the others, this is the only sleeping space in this camper.
Get a tour of this RV in the video below.
The Alto R1723 by Safari Condo
For an ultra-lightweight, modern camper, you may want to consider some of the newer teardrop trailers on the market, like the Alto R1723. This camper weighs in at just 1,867 lbs.
The teardrop shape isn't just for modern aesthetics. The manufacturer claims it reduces air drag by 75% compared with traditional campers. Combined with its lightweight design, the Alto will take less toll on your mileage than other campers.
The smart design keeps this aerodynamic camper comfortable too. A pair of electric linear actuators pop the roof up to allow more space inside when your camper is set up. There is an indoor kitchen and bathroom, although the shower and blackwater toilet are combined in this camper.
It also features a dinette that converts into a single bed and a separate seating area that can convert into two single or one queen-size bed.
You can see the Alto R1723 in action in the video below.
The Timberleaf Classic
For a teardrop trailer that's even lighter than the Alto, check out the Timberleaf Classic. This camper manages to keep the scales at just 1,500 lbs.
This camper is designed for more die-hard outdoor enthusiasts. The interior cabin features a queen-size mattress and some storage, but nothing else. It does, however, have a huge skylight above the bed, so you can enjoy watching starry skies and passing weather.
Although not enclosed, this camper does have a kitchen, which includes a cooler, sink, and gas stove and folds out behind the trailer. While this means you'll be cooking in the elements, it also means you'll have more counter space than many campers offer.
Unlike the other campers on this list, the Timberleaf Classic doesn't include a bathroom. Because of this, you'll be more dependent on the communal facilities at campgrounds.
You can see the Classic and its even smaller sister, the Pika, presented by Timberland's owner in the video below.
Which Lexus models can tow?
The Lexus RX isn't the only Lexus SUV that's tow-ready. The NX, GX, and LX can all tow as well! The only Lexus SUV that isn't rated for towing is the UX.
The NX tows a lighter load than the RX, with a maximum tow capacity of 2,000 lbs. The GX and LX can manage a little more, at 6,000 lbs and 7,500 lbs, respectively.
Regardless of which Lexus SUV you own, Lexus does not recommend towing unless you have their towing prep package. They also do not advise towing with any of their sedan or coupe models. Always be sure to check with your owner's manual before towing with your Lexus or any other vehicle.
You can learn more about Lexus vehicles in our article, "Who Makes Lexus Vehicles?"
How much weight can a 2015 Lexus RX 350 tow?
Much like recent model years, the 2015 Lexus RX 350 with a front- or all-wheel-drive drivetrain has a towing capacity of 3,500 lbs.
However, the two-wheel-drive drivetrain available for the RX 350 in 2015 and earlier model years had a lower capacity. These vehicles have a lower maximum towing capacity, at 1,500 lbs.
How to tell if my vehicle is AWD or 2WD
The most surefire way to tell what kind of drivetrain your vehicle has is to check the VIN. Short for "vehicle identification number," the VIN can be found either at the base of the driver's side of the windshield or the driver's doorjamb.
Once you have the VIN, you can call your dealer for the information. You can also check if your Lexus SUV has the towing prep package the same way.
There are also sites that allow you to look up your vehicle's information with the VIN, such as Carfax. Many of these sites will offer some information for free but may charge you for a more detailed report.
The Lexus RX 350 isn't just a stylish vehicle for turning heads on the city streets. It can be ready for a proper road trip, trailer in tow with the right setup.
Now you know more about how to make sure your RX 350 is tow-ready and have seen some great camper options. All that's left is to hitch up and hit the road.
Safe driving and happy hauling!