By on February 9, 2015

2015 Lexus NX200tUp to this point, the arrival of a potential familial rival has not hindered the success of the Lexus RX, America’s favourite premium brand utility vehicle.

The RX, still a relatively affordable two-row Lexus crossover, has been sold alongside the more affordable but somewhat less spacious NX since the very end of November. 5717 copies of the NX were sold in December and January combined. Year-over-year, U.S. sales of the RX rose 8% to 20,194 over the same period.


• RX sales reached an eight-year high in 2014

• 2905 NXs sold in December; 2812 in January


Admittedly, the RX’s rate of growth doesn’t compare well with that of the overall SUV/crossover market. RX sales increased just 3% in the 2014 calendar year and 3% in December specifically. January’s 17% jump translated to 962 extra sales in a SUV/crossover market which rose 19%. U.S. SUV/crossover sales were up 12% in December and in 2014 as a whole.

But late in its lifecycle, with production levels that can only go so high, and with new external rivals popping up all over the place? In that case, the ability of the RX – once a game changer itself – to post any improvement at all is impressive. That it could do so when the $34,480 (base NX200T) arrives in healthy numbers is more monumental.

2013 Lexus RX350The NX, of course, is no shrinking violet. But as the Jeep Cherokee proved before it, avant-garde styling isn’t a first-class ticket out of town in the SUV world. The NX outsold a most small luxury crossovers in January, only trailing the Audi Q5 by 115 units and the Acura RDX by 705. The NX, with 2812 January sales, begins the year 1210 units ahead of the Lincoln MKC, having also handily outsold entry-level players like the Audi Q3, BMW X1, and Mercedes-Benz GLA in addition to slightly upsized rivals like the BMW X3, Range Rover Evoque, Mercedes-Benz GLK, and Volvo XC60.

But no premium brand crossover sells in anything like the kinds of numbers put up by the RX, and the RX made that all the more clear in January. At this time last year, the second-ranked premium brand utility was the Cadillac SRX, 1161 sales back of the RX. In January 2015, the next-best-selling premium brand utility vehicle was the Acura MDX, 2188 sales abaft.

Lexus sales chartSRX sales slid 22% to 3485 units in January 2015, the SRX’s seventh consecutive monthly decline. MDX sales were up 3% to 4381, equal to 37% of all Acura sales.

Meanwhile, in addition to the 2812 NXs sold by Lexus, its semi-related donor vehicle, the Toyota RAV4, set a January sales record with 19,824 U.S. sales. The RAV4 ranked third overall, 3487 units out of top spot; 230 sales back of the Ford Escape.

Lease deals and financing offers that continue to make the RX look like a good deal when the newer, flashier, less costly NX sits nearby can clearly play a role in keeping the brand’s best seller atop the leaderboard.

Yet by the same token, improved RX offers late in its tenure aren’t holding back the NX from entering the small luxury crossover fray with instantaneous success, either. Product positioning isn’t an easy task, but it’s certainly clear that Lexus has it figured out. At least through two months.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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35 Comments on “U.S. Sales: The Lexus NX Isn’t Hampering The Lexus RX...”


  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Looking forward to see what they do with the next RX. Toyota has kind of been on a roll with new releases… can’t think of any recent duds. They really understand all of their markets.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    “The NX, of course, is no shrinking violet. But as the Jeep Cherokee proved before it, avant-garde styling isn’t a first-class ticket out of town”

    Which might lead one to suspect that even bizarro style is better then the tediously numb style of most sedans and crossovers

  • avatar
    Whoa Befalls Electra

    I saw one of these (in black) in the wild for the first time yesterday. And while they’re definitely an acquired taste, they’re better looking in person than in photographs.

  • avatar
    Mr. Orange

    But its just so ugly. This will be a success for Lexus for sure. Their products have the qualities Americans want.

    My issue is that they no longer understand the concept of elegance if we compare what their making now to just 5 years ago. This, the RC-F, the update on the LS, has me thinking that Lexus is losing or has already lost the concept of making timeless designs.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      They haven’t lost the concept of that… that’s just not what the market wants.

      Distinctiveness minus taste equals garish. Unestablished marques and brands don’t have the luxury of going sedate and even established brands like BMW and MB have been going off the deep end with niches. The blandness of the ATS/CTS are def a huge part of their undoing. Sucks but these are the times we live in.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    “The NX, with 2812 January sales, begins the year 1210 units ahead of the Lincoln MKC, ”

    Um..isn’t the MKC closer to the larger RX? Thought the NX was the new, smaller CUTIES. It looks a lot smaller out back than the MKC.
    Or is it the MKX?
    I get all confused here.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      MKC = Escape, or about the size of the NX
      MKX = Edge, or about the size of the RX

      It’s odd that Lexus doesn’t have a three-row crossover (no, the GX and LX don’t count)

      • 0 avatar

        You’re exactly right. But it’s important to note that the Japanese crossovers compete with European ones that are a class-size smaller. The RX, which is mid-sized, is often cross-shopped with compact crossovers like the X3, Q5, GLK, XC60 (soon to be GLC), et cetera. Meanwhile, the NX, which is compact, is in the same pricing territory as subcompact crossovers like the X1, Q3, GLA, et cetera.

        As for the three-row crossover…there were talks of discontinuing the body-on-frame GX in favor of a FWD-based unibody large crossover, but those have been nixed. The GX is a solid piece, but it’s also a tarted-up Land Cruiser Prado with a nice profit margin on it. It may not sell in huge numbers, but it’s hardly an issue for Lexus to keep around; it’s rather like a bonus every time one sells. And the sales numbers have gone up on the GX with the 2014 facelift.

        The seven-seat crossover will probably end up supplementing the GX. Since it would effectively share its Camry-based architecture with the RX, it could end up just being called the RXL…or it could wear an entirely different nameplate. Either way, the large $40K-$55K family-crossover market (which also includes the MDX, QX60 and Enclave) is hot and profit is high….

      • 0 avatar
        GiddyHitch

        I’m pretty sure that the next gen RX is going to be a three row design and then I imagine that the NX will grow in stature to assume the midsize position formerly held by the RX which will then allow Lexus to bring out a new compact CUV to slot in under that. GX’s days have got to be numbered at this point.

        What’s the word on the NX btw? I have a friend (former RX330 driver) looking at one to replace a Prius that no one likes.

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy Cain

      L x W.

      MKC: 179.2 x 73.4
      NX: 182.3 x 73.6
      RX: 187.8 x 74.2

      Base price.

      MKC: $33,100
      NX: $34,480
      RX: $40,970

      • 0 avatar
        Varezhka

        Pretty interesting to see the numbers, since I think the 2000 (first gen) RX300 was:

        L x W (inch): 180.1 x 71.5
        Base MSRP: $33,000 (not adjusted for inflation)

        Given that, I would be pretty surprised if the next RX doesn’t go 3-row.

  • avatar
    bunkie

    Good heavens, that thing is ugly. I hadn’t seen it in profile until now, and I see why.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    When I see an NX in the wild I will make a point to keep a wide berth as the buyers of these clearly have serious vision problems.

  • avatar
    johnhowington

    “affordable” – the truth about cars is looking more like ‘about cars’ every day.

    • 0 avatar
      GiddyHitch

      The phrase was, “relatively affordable” as in affordable relative to the luxury compact CUV competition, which the NX is.

      • 0 avatar
        RWD_by_the_Sea

        Eh, once you start adding features that would be considered standard for non-luxury brands you’d be surprised how fast the sticker price shoots up. Lexus has learned well from the Germans on that front.

  • avatar
    willbodine

    It’s hampering my eyesight. Ouch!

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    Maybe (hopefully) it’s just the angle that the picture was taken from, but that NX appears to have an awful, exaggeratedly pointed snout. Almost cartoonish.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      “Maybe (hopefully) it’s just the angle that the picture was taken from, but that NX appears to have an awful, exaggeratedly pointed snout. Almost cartoonish.”

      Nope, that’s Lexus’ Godzilla meets Mothra design language

  • avatar
    Spartan

    The Lexus NX is hideous. I wish they’d do something about the nose on that thing. On another note, that Lexus RX F-Sport looks pretty good.

  • avatar
    bnolt

    That top photo makes my eyes burn! I can hear David Attenborough. “Sensing the danger has past, the lumbering Bronze Tortoise’s head reluctantly emerges”.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    While some of it must be caused by the angle it’s parked on, that nose looks disjointed, not of a piece with the rest of the design, almost strapped on. Can I say that without risking summoning the departed?

  • avatar
    wmba

    “Up to this point, the arrival of a potential familial rival has not hindered the success of the Lexus RX, America’s favourite premium brand utility vehicle.”

    That’s only because they haven’t styled the RX to look like a samurai nightmare yet. Give ’em a month or two.

  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    Hopefully they wont style the RX like this. I got a chance this past Sunday night to get a close look at an NX at the local gas station. Its one of those cars that actually worse in person that in pic. Its also rather small inside, to the point that I dont think the RX needs to grow to a three row version at all. I cant see anyone that is considering an RX cross shopping one of these things.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    If you consider it, this new class of tiny CUV’s is all about crazy looks. It must be what the customer desires.

    Juke
    Cherokee
    NX
    RAV4
    XV Crosstrek (least goofy)

    (I know I’m missing some, what else?)


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