A car-based seven-seat crossover is being planned by Lexus as the luxury carmaker bids to enter the in-demand segment. The new offering could be achieved either by launching out a new vehicle or by increasing the size of the Lexus RX 350. Lexus Division chief Jeff Bracken remarked that the third-row seating – only offered in seven-seat crossovers -- is the No. 1 issue they hear from dealers.
He noted that seven-seat crossover represents a “35,000-units-a-year opportunity.” Lexus main crossover offering is the mid-sized five-seat RX 350 and has over than 100,000 units annually. The RX is underpinned by the platform of the Toyota Highlander that was redesigned this year. Lexus, however, won’t introduce its own variant until late next year, to pave way for the arrival of the compact NX 200t and NX 300h five-seat crossovers this winter.
While the carmaker already offers a seven-seat SUV in the persona of the GX 460, it is a body-on-frame SUV with a truck-like ride. The plan for a car-based seven-seat crossover has given rise to speculations that it would trim the need for the GX 460.
A source, however, told Automotive News that the GX 460 remains highly profitable for Lexus, even at low volumes. Eleven years have already passed since Lexus unveiled the HPX seven-seat car-based crossover concept at the New York auto show and seven years since the carmaker shown the LF-Xh crossover concept at the Tokyo Motor Show.
Lexus, however, did not push through plans to build the LF-Xh due to the recession. But now, a seven-seat car-based crossover is back on the drawing board. In fact, Toyota has already applied for a trademark for the TX nameplate.
Its product planners, however, won’t tell whether the TX would be underpinned by the Highlander-Camry-Avalon front-wheel-drive architecture for packaging benefits, or would be based on the Lexus IS/GS sedans rear-wheel-drive platform for a sportier feel. Likewise, the TX coding could apply for a seven-seat variant of the RX 350.