Lexus is late to the luxury three-row crossover party, and the company is reportedly considering a few approaches for a future model that would compete with seven-seaters like the Acura MDX and Buick Enclave. According to a report from Automotive News, one option would be to stretch the popular Lexus RX crossover so it could accommodate an extra set of seats, and another option would be to introduce an all-new model that could be called the Lexus TX.
The Lexus RX (pictured) is currently a two-row-only midsize luxury crossover that’s based on the same platform as the Toyota Highlander SUV, which comes standard with three rows of seats. With the new 2015 Lexus NX compact crossover filling in the gap below the RX, though, the next RX could move up in size to accommodate a third row. Alternatively, given that Toyota has filed a trademark for the TX nameplate, it's possible the company could launch an all-new crossover with this designation to differentiate it from the next-generation RX.
Whatever nameplate it wears, this larger Lexus crossover is said to launch late next year. If it is an all-new model, we would expect it to ride on the same platform as the redesigned 2014 Toyota Highlander, with front-wheel drive as standard and all-wheel drive as optional. Toyota’s 3.5-liter V-6 engine is a safe bet in terms of powertrains, as is a hybrid model. AN also reports the possibility of the crossover using the rear-wheel-drive platform underpinning the Lexus IS and GS, but we think that’s unlikely given the packaging advantages of a front-wheel-drive platform that would make more sense for a seven-seat SUV.
Lexus dealers have reportedly been clamoring for a three-row model regardless of what form it takes, and Lexus chief Jeff Bracken recently stated that the company could be missing out on significant sales numbers from such a vehicle. Lexus currently offers the GX 460 and LX 570 SUVs with three rows of seats, but both of these models are truck-based, body-on-frame SUVs that can’t compete with luxury crossovers and thus sell in low volumes -- no doubt in part because their truck roots and thirsty engines can't return the fuel economy of modern crossovers. According to Bracken, Lexus could possibly stand to gain around 35,000 annual sales from this new model. This doesn’t seem too far-fetched if you look at sales of other luxury crossovers like the Acura MDX, which sold 53,040 copies in 2013.
Whether it is called RX or TX, keep an eye out for more news from Lexus regarding this new three-row model.