John Goreham's picture

Lexus prepares modern 7-seat crossover to augment popular RX 350

The RX 350 is the best-selling luxury crossover in existence, but is limited to 5 seats. Lexus is planning a 7-seat crossover and the name might be "Texas."

Lexus will soon morph the current RX 350 crossover into a 7 passenger vehicle to the delight of Lexus dealers in the US. Dealers have been frustrated that Lexus has no crossover that can carry seven, and they know they are missing out on lots of business as a result. The forums we participate in have frequent comments from dealers on the subject.

When we began reporting last year on what has become the new Lexus NX 200t and NX 300h, one of the first things we mentioned was that this new 5 passenger crossover will make it possible for the RX 350 to grow to become a 5 plus 2, seven passenger crossover. It could even be stretched to hold eight, but we seriously doubt that due to styling issues.

The current RX 350 is Lexus’ top selling vehicle and one of two bread and butter vehicles that Lexus relies on. The other is the ES 350. The current sales rate of the Lexus RX 350 and its hybrid sibling total about 96,000 units per year in the US. The Lexus RX matches the sales rate of BMW’s X3 and X5 combined. It also sells nearly as well as Mercedes’ ML, GLK, and GL sport utility vehicles combined. To say the RX 350 is important to Lexus is an understatement.

The new 2014 Toyota Highlander has now reached the size where the third row would be viable in a luxury vehicle. Will the numbskulls who review sport utes for major media outlets point out that the third row is cramped for those of 6 feet and hard to reach for octogenarians? Yes, sadly. However, back in the real world those seats are for human children under the age of 12 and Lexus is losing out to families with a need to carry more than 2 or 3 kids. And not just affluent families with a lot of their own kids. Trips to soccer and other sports, private school car pools, and dinners out with grammy and gramps (who sit in the easy to access and roomy second row), and also the kids are not possible in the RX.

Automotive News recently reported that Lexus has reserved the trademark on “TX.” Lexus has everything it needs. A fantastic platform used under the Highlander, a new NX 200t to attract the entry level and compact buyers, a fantastically successful RX 350 to feed the coffers, and soon the new, modern TX 350 luxury, seven passenger crossover to help grow the Lexus line. Even the name would be great. “The Lexus Texas.”

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7 people in one vehicle? Now that is un-American.
I thought the LX570 fit this category. Honestly, though, midsized crossovers/SUVs with a third row option usually have it so small and useless that it's a pointless offering except as an occasional child seat holder.
You make a good point Aaron. I could have done a better overview of the full Lexus SUV line. The third row has to be usable, like in the Highlander, which is selling very strongly. Lexus will use that basic platform of course. Customers don't buy the big costly LX. Only 300 were sold last month. It is based on the old-style body on frame vehicles that are now out of favor (for valid reasons). The Lexus GX is supposed to be an SUV for those that want a 3-row vehicle, but the market is clearly headed toward crossovers and the GX is a fancy 4Runner body on frame vehicle. The GX will likely overlap a while, then fade away like the FJ Cruiser that everyone loved and nobody bought.
The LX570 is big in some foreign markets like North Africa and the Middle East. There's a reason the wash instructions for the floor mats are in English and Farsi. lol You're right, though, Lexus will have to do a Highlander-based version or find themselves non-competitive.
I agree Aaron... As the owner of a Honda Oddysey and a Chrysler Pacifica, I designate the 3rd row seating as emergency only overflow. I don't believe that the option is paramount in one's decision to buy a bohemoth sized SUV or crossover. in the down position the 3rd row seating provides a useful cargo deck. That's about it.
Thanks Parks, As the owner of a Highlander with a 3rd row, I agree. This new TX will not be a leviathan like the Ford Excursion, or Chevy Suburban. More like an RX a foot longer. P Rall called the RX "Compact" in a review I think.
I'm sure it's a quality car. Thank you John...
Ya, when I drove the RX350 F-Sport it was a good size, but not big enough for a third row to be useful. The Nissan Rogue has a third row that's barely functional (big enough for child safety seats, not much else) and our Mazda5 is the same.
Mazda5 is the most underrated car in the US market. Does your have the opposing rear seats, or did they change that?
They changed that when it went from the MPV to the 5, I think.