By on June 30, 2017

Mag-X Lexus RX Three-Row Tokyo - Image: Mag-X via AutoguideThe Lexus RX is, by a massive margin, America’s top-selling luxury utility vehicle.

Through the first five months of 2017, Lexus had already sold 38,329 copies of the RX350 and RX450h in the United States. Most competing luxury crossovers won’t produce that many sales in all of 2017.

But Lexus wants more, and with car sales plunging — Lexus car sales are down 29 percent so far this year — there’s no better means of adding volume than by expanding the utility vehicle division. Lexus has already introduced the NX to sit below the RX, and it’s a verifiable hit. But the GX and LX at the top of the Lexus SUV/CUV heap add only incremental volume.

Thus, Lexus is readying a three-row version of the Lexus RX, a natural fit given the RX’s connections to the three-row Toyota Highlander. This much we knew.

Now, based on reports from Japan’s Mag-X, we also know the seven-seat Lexus RX will debut at the Tokyo in late October 2017.

There’s been no shortage of clamoring among Lexus dealers for a more family-friendly RX. (Though it remains to be seen if any roofline adjustments will make the three-row RX actually friendly for families.) Lexus’ Jeff Bracken confirmed in the spring of 2016 that a three-row RX would arrive in America in late 2017 or early 2018 while admitting on behalf of Lexus dealers a high degree of impatience.

“They would just love to have it now,” Bracken told Automotive News. “But I think they’re quite relieved that they know it’s coming.”

Lexus’ auto show schedule remains unconfirmed. There were reports earlier this spring that the three-row Lexus RX would be unveiled in Shanghai in April.

It was not.

Nevertheless, the date at which Lexus hoped to be selling seven-seat RX350s is fast approaching, making a Tokyo debut more likely. Given the RX’s American importance, we can certainly expect to see the RX by the time the Los Angeles Auto Show rolls around in early December.

We can’t expect to see, however, a Lexus RX with dramatically differentiated styling on the three-row variant. In order to maintain the strong RX connection Lexus so badly wants — “We’ll embrace the RX name,” Bracken said last year — the seven-seat RX has to look like the RX. “We put so much energy into the styling you see now that we didn’t want to compromise even with the third row,” says the Lexus general manager.

Likewise, don’t expect a Plus or Grande or Max badge on the RX’s tailgate, either. In Japan’s hybrid guise, Mag-X says, the seven-seat RX will be called the Lexus RX450hL.

Sound familiar? L is the letter Lexus uses to signify the long-wheelbase versions of the brand’s full-size LS sedan.

The seven-seat Lexus RX would have been on sale already had Lexus not determined that the RC coupe was a priority. “In hindsight, if I was making this decision 10 years ago, seeing what I see today, the three-row [crossover] probably would have been the better play to come out first,” Toyota’s North American CEO Jim Lentz said two years ago. Lexus has sold 30,471 RCs in its 2.5-year lifespan to date, though sales are predictably less than half as strong now as they were two years ago.

Expect greater long-term stability with the three-row Lexus RX, which will maintain the regular RX’s wheelbase but feature an elongated rear overhang and an elevated rear window.

[Image: Mag-X, via Autoguide]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

36 Comments on “Toyota Prepares October 2017 Unveiling of Three-Row 2018 Lexus RX...”


  • avatar
    IBx1

    Look at how cramped and miserable those humans are. Don’t screw with the formula, Lexus. That would be like McWendyKing looking at their best selling sandwich and thinking they can increase their appeal, and directly affect their market share, by adding ice cream and brussels sprouts to it. Kids want dessert and boring healthy people want brussels sprouts, but nobody is going to buy the Big McWhoppernator with ice cream and green crap on it.

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    They should’ve done this years ago.
    Also (prediction) RIP to GX460 within a year or two.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Perhaps. For what it is—rear-air suspension, leather / wood and an engine upgrade over a much less-nice vehicle (the Land Cruiser Prado)—the GX460 is probably quite profitable. Sales really picked up after the 2014 spindle-grille refresh, and it actually has a lot of repeat-buyers.

      That said, the fact of the matter is that plenty of people would have bought a three-row RX had it existed, instead of the GX. That’s especially the case when the RX is new and fresh (and roomier), and the GX is the only Lexus still soldiering along on the company’s 2010-era electronics interfaces.

      I think the GS sedan’s end is very near—as in, there probably won’t be another one—but I bet we get at least one more GX, just to see if it can sustain its sales momentum in spite of a softer-sprung, more-spacious counterpart.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Isn’t the GX done on the same basic platform as the 4Runner? If so I can’t see why Lexus would do away with it.

        • 0 avatar
          Corey Lewis

          Yes, but it’s due for a do-over, has a different body entirely than the 4Runner, and has a V8 which the 4Runner no longer has. And it never sells very many.

          (Wrote this before seeing Kyree’s longer summation already saying the same thing.)

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            True, but Lexus sold 25,000 of these last year, and it’s a) on a platform shared with a far cheaper model that’s enjoying a sales increase, so b) it must be highly profitable.

            Plus, from what I just looked up, the GX appears to have the same engine as a Tundra.

            Can’t see why they wouldn’t continue with it. Refresh the current styling and bring the interior up to date. Profit.

          • 0 avatar
            Corey Lewis

            Hmm, didn’t think they sold that many. Just seems like I so rarely see new ones. The GX is definitely a vehicle people hold onto for a while.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            You see quite a few of them around here in Colorado, which makes sense – it’s a pretty capable off-roader and folks around here respond to that.

            It’s also a good “entry level” model for folks who want the Land Cruiser (LX) but can’t pop for one yet. Lots of the same attributes (V-8, BOF, third row seating, heavy-duty, “serious off-roader,” etc).

            I drove one a long time ago (last-gen) and I liked it – kind of surprising given that I’m not much of a SUV fan. Great old-school Lexus interior.

          • 0 avatar
            Corey Lewis

            I really agree on those points. For the (lot of) extra money, what are you getting besides the LC name?

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Prestige. And EXQUISITE build quality. I’m no fan of the Exxon Valdez class of SUVs, but I’d take a LX any day.

          • 0 avatar
            Corey Lewis

            The GX is built to a lower standard!??!

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            I’m not sure, but the LX is something to behold from a workmanship standpoint. Check one out sometime.

          • 0 avatar
            Corey Lewis

            I don’t know anyone well-heeled enough to own one.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            I don’t either. And I think that’s part of the appeal – you see folks in Escalades, Navigators and Range Rovers all the time, but the LX is for folks with tons of money who don’t want to be showy about it. Seriously, if you appreciate great build quality, go look one over.

          • 0 avatar
            Corey Lewis

            I think the LC is for the moneyed who don’t want to be showy. The LX is quite showy and chromey these days.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          Not only is the GX on the same basic platform as the 4Runner, it literally uses the same bodyshell as a product they sell elsewhere, the Land Cruiser Prado. Since it shares a bodyshell with another volume vehicle, it’s less expensive to produce than if it were truly a unique vehicle. And the engine and transmission are corporate parts, also not unique to the GX.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_Land_Cruiser_Prado

          • 0 avatar
            Corey Lewis

            I was thinking the Land Cruiser Prado had a different body. Temporary mind lapse! Prado is sold in lots and lots of markets.

      • 0 avatar
        dividebytube

        I test drove a 92k mile 2004 Lexus GX470 over the weekend – at one point there was a new RX350 in front of me. The RX seemed like a toy compared to the GX.

        In the end I didn’t like the ride of the GX – at least in “Comfort” mode it rode so softly I had visions of sitting in the back of my dad’s 1977 Cadillac Fleetwood, getting car sick.

        • 0 avatar
          Corey Lewis

          Gtem said something very similar about the GX in comfort mode.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Yes the GX is just a fantastically comfortable automobile in the “shut out the outside world/invincible cocoon” sense. Bomb down totally ruined pavement without a care in the world.

            On a related note I just got back from a vacation road trip in the 4Runner. After 16 hours straight behind the wheel and a bit of a scare with engine pinging (filled up with crap gas near the OH/WV border), and a promotion at work, I’m finding myself window shopping again,
            Looking at prices on ’10-13 (pre-predator maw) GX460s, clean ’05-’07 Sequoias, the usual newer 4Runner suspects, and even taking a gander at over-100k mile early-build Land Cruiser 200s. My 4Runner was a champ in the loose sand on the beach ramps (pulled a hapless Crosstrek XV out to boot), but man the highway slogs and occasional paranoia while driving on these long road trips start to really wear on me.

      • 0 avatar
        Reino

        The biggest downfall of the GX is the ridiculous barn-door tailgate that makes curbside loading impossible. That is really a shame too, because the only downfall to the 4Runner is that it is missing a 6th gear and two extra cylinders.

  • avatar
    deanst

    “We put so much energy into the styling you see now that we didn’t want to compromise even with the third row,” says the Lexus general manager ”

    Please, please, put a little less “energy” into future “styling”.

    (Wasn’t their a time when designers were offended at the use of the word styling?)

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    It’s a station wagon!

    IS NOT!!

    The emperor has no clothes!

  • avatar
    PRNDLOL

    That illustration looks like
    ‘The Human Centipede 4: The Lap of Luxury’

  • avatar
    zip89123

    What stupidity is next, a 4-row Sequoia?

  • avatar
    onyxtape

    At this rate, the most profitable thing would be to Lexusize the Sienna. Which would also have some mercy for the 3rd row seaters!

    But yeah, I wonder what took Toyota so long before they decided they wanted in on that sweet MDX cash money.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    I don’t understand why these sell so well. Well, I get it (they don’t break, comfy, great resale). But having just had one of these as a loaner I was NOT impressed. I was never impressed with the older ones much either, but after all the ranting and raving I’d heard about this new one not being a big boat, with AMAZING (ooo) interior, etc….

    It feels just as boaty, but with a stiffer ride. The steering is still complete garbage. The 20″ rims crash over bumps. I don’t get the interior raving at all. It had tons of hard plastic, with nasty graining like we used to all make fun of cheap domestics for having inside.

    I’ll give the V6 major props. The 8 speed seems very good too.

    Throw on it looks like a minivan already anyway, I really don’t get it. I am not a lover of the NX either, but the steering is better, it rides better despite having a sportier suspension setup (somehow handles better, yet also absorbs bumps better), and the interior is miles better than the RX.

    Anyway, this will just help Lexus sell more of them. As for me, I knew pretty much within 15 minutes that I would never buy the new RX. Sorry there are just better choices out there, even if you sacrifice a tad in the reliability or resale department to get it.

    • 0 avatar
      rentonben

      My old man is going into memory care, so I had to shuttle his RX to long-term storage.

      What a rotten vehicle – the worst of all worlds: It’s like they took the ricketiness of a 30-year old K-car minivan, added the fake wood trim of a 1992 gold-trimmed Camry, and topped it off with sallowly suspension of a 1983 Buick. And made to look from the outside like a cat pooping in a cramped litter box.

      I can see why the old man is mentally checking out… it beats having to drive an RX.

    • 0 avatar
      tekdemon

      Most normal people actually hate the semblence of any steering feel-they don’t mind a heavier steering weight since it makes the car feel more solid but ask any normal non-enthusiast and they’ll complain about the steering wheel vibrating and moving while driving. Your average consumer wants zero feel, which is what car companies have delivered.

      Most people are also not optioning the 20″ rims so they’re getting excellent ride quality out of the standard 18″. And the interior is very nice for the class, and more importantly the interior will stay nice for many years to come. The available hybrid also makes it more fuel efficient than any other vehicle in the class.

      Honestly it’s exactly the car most buyers want, so not so surprisingly it sells the best.

  • avatar
    dmoan

    Rx350 is riddled with issues including vibration issues and consumer reviews are horrible surprised they are selling well.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • eyeofthetiger: Fiesta 1.0 Ecoboost runs about 2,500 RPM at 70 MPH. It is so relaxed on the highway. 5th gear is a...
  • eyeofthetiger: I don’t know what an Avenir is or how to pronounce it. The best LaCrosse model is the base trim...
  • PrincipalDan: The only way this has a prayer is if GM bombards current DTS and XTS owners who live in towns that lost...
  • THX1136: @ brettc: I would agree. KK is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, but there’s better....
  • mike978: It’s not a new engine and Mazda are more reliable than VW so what is your issue or than bashing for...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States