Toyota Prepares October 2017 Unveiling of Three-Row 2018 Lexus RX

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
toyota prepares october 2017 unveiling of three row 2018 lexus rx

The 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 and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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4 of 36 comments
  • Jerome10 Jerome10 on Jun 30, 2017

    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.

    • See 1 previous
    • Tekdemon Tekdemon on Jul 02, 2017

      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.

  • Dmoan Dmoan on Jul 02, 2017

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

  • Darren Mertz In 2000, after reading the glowing reviews from c/d in 1998, I decided that was the car for me (yep, it took me 2 years to make up my mind). I found a 1999 with 24k on the clock at a local Volvo dealership. I think the salesman was more impressed with it than I was. It was everything I had hoped for. Comfortable, stylish, roomy, refined, efficient, flexible, ... I can't think of more superlatives right now but there are likely more. I had that car until just last year at this time. A red light runner t-boned me and my partner who was in the passenger seat. The cops estimate the other driver hit us at about 50 mph - on a city street. My partner wasn't visibly injured (when the seat air bag went off it shoved him out of the way of the intruding car) but his hip was rather tweaked. My car, though, was gone. I cried like a baby when they towed it away. I ruminated for months trying to decide how to replace it. Luckily, we had my 1998 SAAB 9000 as a spare car to use. I decided early on that there would be no new car considered. I loathe touch screens. I'm also not a fan of climate control. Months went by. I decided to keep looking for another B5 Passat. As the author wrote, the B5.5 just looked 'over done'. October this past year I found my Cinderella slipper - an early 2001. Same silver color. Same black leather interior. Same 1.8T engine. Same 5 speed manual transmission. I was happier than a pig in sh!t. But a little sad also. I had replaced my baby. But life goes on. I drive it every day to work which takes me over some rather twisty freeway ramps. I love the light snarel as I charge up some steep hills on my way home. So, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Passat guy.
  • Paul Mezhir As awful as the styling was on these cars, they were beautifully assembled and extremely well finished for the day. The doors closed solidly, the ride was extremely quiet and the absence of squeaks and rattles was commendable. As for styling? Everything's beautiful in it's own way.....except for the VI's proportions were just odd: the passenger compartment and wheelbase seemed to be way too short, especially compared to the VI sedan. Even the short-lived Town Coupe had much better proportions. None of the fox-body Lincolns could compare to the beautiful proportions of the Mark was the epitome of long, low, sleek and elegant. The proportions were just about perfect from every angle.
  • ToolGuy Silhouetting yourself on a ridge like that is an excellent way to get yourself shot ( Skylining)."Don't you know there's a special military operation on?"
  • ToolGuy When Farley says “like the Millennium Falcon” he means "fully updatable" and "constantly improving" -- it's right there in the Car and Driver article (and makes perfect sense).
  • Master Baiter New slogan in the age of Ford EVs:FoundOnRoadDischarged