By on November 16, 2017

Lexus RX350LThe grandpappy of all luxury crossovers, the Lexus RX, has long been the runaway sales leader in its segment. Last year, the RX crushed its competition like beetles under its feet, selling 109,435 units. That’s nearly one-in-five midsize luxury crossovers.

Intent on proving that too much of a good thing is a good thing, the RX will further cement its domination with the introduction of a three-row version, set to appear at this year’s L.A. Auto Show.

The 2018 Lexus RX 350L will make its world premiere alongside a hybrid model, the RX 450hL. Given its beyond dominant stature in the segment, we fully expect both these versions to sell like proverbial hotcakes.

The non-hybrid model will no doubt be powered by the corporate 3.5-liter V6 engine, making 295 horsepower and capable of towing 3,500 pounds. The current 450h also deploys a 3.5-liter V6, but it is paired with hybrid wizardry to produce a total system horsepower of 308 hp. The hybrid has an EPA rating in excess of 30 mpg on the city cycle.

At a present length of 192.5 inches, it would not be unreasonable to expect an RX that’s been put in a taffy-puller to approach or perhaps even crest the 200-inch mark.

1999 Lexus RX

Nearly 20 years ago, the original RX paved the way for the luxury crossover segment — for better or for worse, depending on your point of view. Certainly, there were other attempts at luxury, such as the first-gen Explorer Limited, but it was the RX that seemed to solve the puzzle of height, all-weather traction, maneuverability, and comfort.

A front-drive RX currently starts at $43,220 and can approach 60 grand in check-every-box F Sport guise. Hybrid models can be had in the mid- to high-50k range. Expect the three-row variant to add at least $1,500 to the bottom line.

Sales of the RX is on par with last year’s record performance, so expect to hear of huge sales gains in the 2018 calendar year with this new addition to the range. Lexus does not generally break out the report of specific trims per model, so sales of the three-row variant will likely be lumped in with its two-row brother. So far this year, Lexus has written 84,254 RX prescriptions. BMW has sold 38,453 X5s.

The RX 350L will be revealed at the Lexus Press Conference taking place on November 29, 2017 at 10:00 am PST.

[Images: Toyota Motor Corp.]

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32 Comments on “License to Print Money: Lexus to Introduce a Three-row RX...”


  • avatar
    ajla

    Goodbye GX. :(

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I’ve heard that argument before, but I don’t buy it.

      1) Sales for this model are solid and trending upwards. Check Tim’s site.
      2) The model it’s based on (the 4Runner) is also selling.
      3) The GX’s engine is shared with a high-volume pickup truck (Tundra).

      I don’t see why they’d want to turn down 25,000 sales of the GX a year.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Agreed. It makes sense to kill off the GS, even though I like it. Sales are down, down, down. It lives in a segment (the RWD mid-sized sedan) that is dominated by the Germans. And it mostly duplicates efforts made by the FWD ES, which sales significantly more often.

        However, the GX’s sales have increased tremendously since 2014. It also shares its body-shell with the Land Cruiser Prado, and must be quite profitable to make. I don’t foresee Toyota killing it off. I do foresee a second major facelift before it’s completely redesigned; hopefully that facelift will bring its technology stack up-to-date.

        • 0 avatar
          saturnotaku

          I see both sides of this argument. Lexus is going to sell a metric boatload more RX 350Ls than they will GX 460s. Even though they are two distinctly different vehicles, they may not see the point in having them side-by-side in the same showroom. It’s a similar situation with the ES and GS, though the latter’s sales are a fraction of even the GX.

          At the same time, the current GX could stick around for at least another year because every one they sell is pure profit. After 2019, though, they really need to do something because its basic design will be a decade old at that point. Maybe the Bronco and rumored re-release of the TrailBlazer will prompt Toyota to redesign the GX, even though it wouldn’t be cross-shopped.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      There are a lot of moving pieces. One is the impact of fuel economy. GX needs 50% more fuel- premium fuel at that- to go the same distance as an RX; I doubt the RX-L would use much more than the base wagon. But that only translates to an extra $20/week- probably not a big deal in the context of someone looking at $50-65K SUVs.

      Other thing is how it drives… I imagine the GX drives like garbage compared to the RX, and that matters to people in this market.

      Another thing is how it looks. Hate all you want but I think the regular RX is well proportioned. If it’s stretched to belly dragger status IDK.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        “I imagine the GX drives like garbage compared to the RX, and that matters to people in this market.”

        Honestly, some people might prefer the secure feeling of a GX totally smothering a bad section of asphalt where a RX might be tuned sharper as Lexus tries to appease know-nothing autojournalists that love “sharp handling.”

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Agreed, I drove a GX and really liked it.

          Kind of out of character for me since I’m not a SUV fan, but there you have it. And the V-8 is yummy.

          For my money, it’s the last of the old-school overbuilt Lexuses. Love the butter smooth leather and the wood in that car.

          Yes, I leave out the LX, which I’d have no chance at buying unless I have a whole bunch of ready-to-split shares of Google that no one’s told me about.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          If there’s one thing nobody has every said about the RX, it’s that it drives too sharp. The GX’ higher curb weight may help, but I imagine that would be canceled out by its proportionally higher unsprung weight. Does the GX have a live rear axle?

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            It does. I can share some perspective as someone who has spent some seat time in a ’09 RX350 (before they tried to inject ‘sportiness’) and a ’05 GX470 a dealership kindly gave me for an overnight test drive. The older RXs do indeed ride VERY well. But I suspect the newer gen cars are unfortunately stiffer (I could be wrong). The GX, is just on a different plane, especially if you set the shocks to “comfort” mode. It is the closest thing you can get to a classic American land yacht. And you’re right, the RX might actually edge out the GX on smoothness (without comically excessive wallow like the GX in comfort mode), but what I’m referring to is the confidence of nailing a pothole and feeling like the vehicle just totally shrugged it off, that nothing could possibly have broken or gotten knocked loose, or wheel damage, etc. A Land Cruiser-derived truck is just the ticket for that bomb-proof sensation while driving. That is a luxury all its own IMO.

  • avatar
    mmreeses

    going to sell like hotcakes to those who for whatever reason won’t buy a Suburban/Yukon/Navigator or who never tow.

  • avatar
    jh26036

    Middle to upper class Asian families will love it!

  • avatar
    dal20402

    This is also going to make the RX’s audience younger, shifting a few sales from empty-nest boomers to younger parents. It’s going to take a bite out of the Acura MDX. The only question is why Lexus didn’t do it a decade ago.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    I gotta ask, do these 3rd rows ever get used? Aren’t families smaller than in the past? How often do people actually put seven persons in a car? And yet, people lose their minds over third rows.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      How many people were driving around in the 1980s with GM B-body and A-body wagons with 3rd rows that rarely went up?

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Don’t see any RXs ’round me, but plenty of Range Rovers, GLS, Cayennes, etc. and when going with the Yukon or Escalade, always with the extended wheelbase version (BMW has really hurt themselves by not having the X7 earlier).

      People need the 3rd row to lug around their kids friends or when family/friends visit.

      Don’t think the RX-L will bite into GX sales too much as buyers of BoF SUVs tend to be a different breed (there’s a reason why certain buyers opt for the Buick Enclave and others for the GMC Yukon).

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      3rd rows are a plus if a 5th passenger is involved with any regularity. Is there any vehicle out there that seats three abreast comfortably?

  • avatar
    bd2

    The RX (even as ugly as it is) sells b/c it’s a midsize luxury CUV priced like a compact.

    It’s the same reason why the Cadillac XT5 is the 2nd best selling luxury CUV.

    Getting a comparably equipped X5 or GLE will cost a lot more and many find the X3 and GLC too small for their needs.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Here in the wealthy burbs of Denver the Yukon Denali, Suburban XLT, & Escalade carry plenty of brand cache in the school pick up line. The Lexus however, is reserved for the premium students who attend the various charter schools.

    The GX, LX, & RX are ubiquitous in the drop off line. Depending on the seating arrangement the RXL will sell like crazy. If it is similar to the Lamba and has quad buckets with a 3rd row, it will sell in spades. With that said, I think it sells in spades if it continues with the mid bench and rear bench.

    The upper class stay at home mom really like themselves some Lexus.

  • avatar
    jimbo1126

    I’d almost kill for one of those first generation RXs in decent shape. I see them around a fair bit but people hold onto them.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Yep they are awesome vehicles. You could even get a mechanical LSD in the rear diff on certain trims. Unfortunately, these are also known for some transmission problems. Not Ultradrive or 2nd gen Odyssey bad, but you have to be careful.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      Agreed. As discussed in previous RX comment threads, the 3rd-gens are nicely executed vehicles, but the 1st and 2nd-gens were better.


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