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Lexus Mulls How to Build Its Own Seven-Seat Crossover

April 30, 2014

Lexus recently entered the luxury compact crossover segment with the NX, but it seems like the brand is set to enter yet another. It was reported that the luxury division of Toyota Motor Corp. is planning to build a seven-seat crossover and that it is now considering how to proceed with the project.

Automotive News reported that Lexus is compelled to develop an entry to the seven-seat crossover segment due to the request of their dealers. Lexus Group Vice President and General Manager Jeff Bracken said at the 2014 New York International Auto Show that “third-row seating is the No. 1 issue we hear from dealers.”

“We feel like we’re missing a 35,000-units-a-year opportunity. We’re working hard to rectify that,” he said.

Rectifying the problem requires the immediate building of a vehicle that offers third-row seating, and Lexus is determined to do just that. The brand is mulling between two options to build this crossover: either expand the existing RX 350 into a seven-seater or create a new model altogether, which may or may not be called the TX.

The RX 350 is a success for Lexus. The mid-sized, five-seater crossover sold more than 100,000 units in 2013. According to Motor Authority, RX’s sales make up 40 percent of the brand’s total monthly sales. The vehicle underwent a redesign this year and will be available in late 2015. People would have to wait for the reworked RX, as its launch was pushed back a bit to allow room for the launches of the compact NX 200t and NX 300h five-seat crossovers. The NX 200t and NX 300h will both be arriving in showrooms this winter.

It must be noted that Lexus does have a seven-seater in its current lineup, but it is not a crossover. The GX 460 is an SUV with a body-on-frame design. Though growing demand calls for the creation of a three-row crossover, it is said that Lexus will not do away with the GX 460. A source said that replacing the SUV is unlikely because it is profitable for the brand even at low volumes.

Before dealers requested for a seven-seat crossover, Lexus had already been working on such vehicle. In the 2003 New York International Auto Show, the brand revealed its HPX seven-seat, car-based crossover concept. In the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show, it debuted the LF-Xh crossover concept. This concept was never made into a production model due to the recession.

There is no doubt that Lexus will make the vehicle. As Bracken said, “We won’t be bothered if it steps on RX. We want it.”

The question is how the automaker will make it—and what it will be called. It is possible that the Lexus three-row crossover will have the same platform as the RX, which rides on the front-wheel-drive platform of the 2014 Toyota Highlander. However, Lexus may opt for the IS/GS rear-wheel-drive architecture for its newest model.

As for the name, it is speculated to be TX. Toyota has already applied to trademark the nameplate. Nonetheless, TX could be a designation for a new crossover or just a coding for a new RX variant.

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