PORTLAND, Oregon – Lexus plans to add a seven-seat, car-based crossover SUV that will be positioned in the RX line or marketed as a separate model, Edmunds has learned.
Brian Bolain, Lexus marketing manager, told Edmunds that a seven-passenger RX is the No. 1 request from Lexus dealers. The redesigned 2016 Lexus RX 350 holds five passengers.
“It is coming,” Bolain said, although he would not provide a timetable.
An industry source said the crossover SUV is expected in the third quarter of 2016 and might be named “TX” instead of RX.
However, Bolian suggested the RX name might make the most sense for the seven-seat vehicle. The RX has been on the market since 1998 and the nameplate is widely recognized by vehicle shoppers.
“We have not settled that internally,” he said during an interview at the Lexus RX event here. “I feel like we have an awful lot of equity in RX so I think the answer will probably sort itself like that. But we haven’t come to a conclusion.”
The redesigned, five-seat 2016 Lexus RX goes on sale in late October. Pricing has not been announced.
The vehicle is slightly longer and wider than the previous generation. When asked if the five-seat model will be stretched to accommodate the third-row seat, Bolain said there is “nothing in terms of design that we can share yet.”
The seven-seat RX – if that is the model’s name – would compete with such vehicles as the Acura MDX, Audi Q7, Buick Enclave and Infiniti QX60, which all seat seven.
Bolain said Lexus plans to target a new group of buyers with the seven-seat model. The previous generations of the five-seat RX were aimed at empty nesters and Baby Boomers “so the third row was not important,” he said.
“The second row was very important because they want other people with them and the cargo space was important because they are carrying bicycles, golf clubs, tennis equipment or whatever it might be. It is active lifestyle stuff,” he said.
“Now as we shift, we’ve got Generation X and, to some degree, Generation Y coming into some money. We are at a tipping point now where Baby Boomers are about half the market and Gen X, Y are about half of the luxury market,” he said. “These people have young families. So, suddenly there is a need for a third row.”
The RX is key to Lexus’ success and it has been the brand’s No. 1-selling model for years. Last year, about 107,500 RXs were sold, compared to the brand’s No. 2 seller, ES, with 72,500 sales. Since 1998, over 2.1 million RXs have been sold, Lexus said.
Edmunds says: A seven-seat crossover SUV from Lexus will give families another good option, but, in the meantime, there are plenty of other choices available at dealerships now.