License to Print Money: Lexus to Introduce a Three-row RX

Lexus RX350LThe grandpappy of all luxury crossovers, the Lexus RX, has long been the runaway sales leader in its segment. Last year, the RX crushed its competition like beetles under its feet, selling 109,435 units. That’s nearly one-in-five midsize luxury crossovers.

Intent on proving that too much of a good thing is a good thing, the RX will further cement its domination with the introduction of a three-row version, set to appear at this year’s L.A. Auto Show.

The 2018 Lexus RX 350L will make its world premiere alongside a hybrid model, the RX 450hL. Given its beyond dominant stature in the segment, we fully expect both these versions to sell like proverbial hotcakes.

The non-hybrid model will no doubt be powered by the corporate 3.5-liter V6 engine, making 295 horsepower and capable of towing 3,500 pounds. The current 450h also deploys a 3.5-liter V6, but it is paired with hybrid wizardry to produce a total system horsepower of 308 hp. The hybrid has an EPA rating in excess of 30 mpg on the city cycle.

At a present length of 192.5 inches, it would not be unreasonable to expect an RX that’s been put in a taffy-puller to approach or perhaps even crest the 200-inch mark.

1999 Lexus RX

Nearly 20 years ago, the original RX paved the way for the luxury crossover segment — for better or for worse, depending on your point of view. Certainly, there were other attempts at luxury, such as the first-gen Explorer Limited, but it was the RX that seemed to solve the puzzle of height, all-weather traction, maneuverability, and comfort.

A front-drive RX currently starts at $43,220 and can approach 60 grand in check-every-box F Sport guise. Hybrid models can be had in the mid- to high-50k range. Expect the three-row variant to add at least $1,500 to the bottom line.

Sales of the RX is on par with last year’s record performance, so expect to hear of huge sales gains in the 2018 calendar year with this new addition to the range. Lexus does not generally break out the report of specific trims per model, so sales of the three-row variant will likely be lumped in with its two-row brother. So far this year, Lexus has written 84,254 RX prescriptions. BMW has sold 38,453 X5s.

The RX 350L will be revealed at the Lexus Press Conference taking place on November 29, 2017 at 10:00 am PST.

[Images: Toyota Motor Corp.]