Lexus RX with third-row seats spy shots - Image via S. Baldauf/SB-MedienEnlarge Photo
Talk of a Lexus crossover SUV with third-row seats dates back quite a few years. Lexus even rolled out a concept previewing such a model as early as the 2003 New York auto show, the HPX.
Lexus put off a production version, deeming the segment too mainstream for a luxury player. Instead, Lexus offered its rugged GX and LX body-on-frame SUV to buyers seeking a third row. Now, however, the allure of crossover sales is simply too strong to ignore.
Lexus engineers are out testing a 3-row, 7-seat version of the mid-size RX, and a report from Japan claims the vehicle will debut in October at the 2017 Tokyo auto show. Modifying the fourth-generation RX to fit a third row should be straight forward given the vehicle’s corporate cousin, the Toyota Highlander, already has three rows.
According to Mag-X, the 3-row RX, to be badged an RX L, will maintain the wheelbase of the current 2-row model but feature an extended rear. To provide sufficient headroom for the third-row, the roof will remain flat towards the rear instead of sloping down like on the 2-row model.
In the United States, the vehicle should be offered in both RX 350 and RX 450h trim, though perhaps not both at launch. Potential rivals include the Audi Q7, Infiniti JX and Volvo XC90.
What’s puzzling is why it’s taken Lexus so long to launch a 3-row crossover. The RX is the brand’s most popular model and a 3-row crossover has been the number one demand from dealers for several years now. Cadillac is another luxury brand that’s been dragging its feet when it comes to 3-row crossovers.
The Tokyo auto show opens its doors to the media on October 25. To follow our coverage on the event, head to our dedicated hub.