New 2016 Lexus RX350 crossover defies critics with big sales jump
In its first month of sales, the all-new Lexus RX350 grew sales by 11% on a strictly head-count basis over last year’s sales of the 2015 model in November. On a sales-day basis (there were less sales days this year) the model’s sales jumped by about 22%. We checked with Lexus to be sure that these were not all outgoing 2015 models on a fire sale, and we were told, “The 2016 RX deliveries began the first week of November.” There are likely still some new 2015s for sale on lots, but they are almost gone. The sales jump is not some annual, monthly hiccup either. Compared to last month’s sales (October 2015) the new 2016 models grew sales by a whopping 26%.
It is all the rage for auto critics to pick on Lexus. For years, it was the so-called “boring designs.” Then Lexus changed its designs and added the spindle grill. Sales doubled on the IS and GS models after the change and critics resorted to “we don’t like the look.” Lexus’ smooth ride and efficient powertrains were also labeled, “boring.” So Lexus added V8 engines to its lineup and boosted base power in vehicles like the RX350 to over 300hp. This caused confusion since the Lexus V6 models with over 300hp cost less than the BMW and Mercedes models with less powerful four-cylinder engines. How does one cast that in a poor light?
The truth is the RX350 is not for everyone. It is for people that want the only premium, AWD, five-passenger crossover to have zero driver deaths in a three-year span according to IIHS. It is for customers that are looking for the best brand in overall quality according to this year’s Consumer Reports customer survey. And it is for customers that want to buy a crossover with the best customer service visit satisfaction according to J.D. Power and Associates. Many Lexus buyers consider those very important considerations.
As we have begun to say more and more often, in the luxury automotive market, the ownership experience is the real differentiator. All the vehicles are great. Apparently the buying public agrees. Mechanically and in marketing terms, the closest competitor to the Lexus RX350 is the Cadillac SRX. Lexus outsold the Cadillac by more than two to one in November.