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Lexus flagship SUV, a true three-row crossover and an EV on the way, dealer says

Lexus is working to update its mostly dormant portfolio with new cars to populate currently unfilled segments. These will include a full electric vehicle, a true three-row crossover, and a flagship SUV. Many existing models will be getting updates as well, along with a new infotainment system.

The agenda was outlined by the chairman of the Lexus National Dealer Advisory Council, John Iacono, in an interview with Automotive News. It very much reads like someone trying to show how much they know by spilling the beans on random bits of info they’ve heard (it’s definitely not anything approaching official information from a company executive), so we’ll take most of it with a fistfull of salt. Still, there’s plenty here that certainly makes sense given the state of the current Lexus lineup. 

Iacono says that Lexus has not been quick enough to fill new segments in the last two years. It was “only the service that kept people coming back,” he says. Customers turned elsewhere because they couldn’t find what they wanted in the Lexus lineup, even though the cars are “bulletproof.”

What those customers wanted, he says, included a three-row crossover. A couple of year ago, dealers rejoiced when the RX was stretched to accommodate a third row (pictured below), but it was only a stopgap to keep dealers happy. Iacono said this people-mover will arrive “relatively soon,” likely referring to the luxury crossover set to be introduced this year. Lexus doesn’t want to deviate from RX’s philosophy because it’s the brand’s most successful product. Lexus does sell two other three-row vehicles, but the GX and LX are traditional body-on-frame SUVs derived from off-road-oriented Toyotas

Speaking of the LX, Lexus will soon be producing an SUV that Iacono believes will become the marque’s flagship. The halo car crown will no longer be worn by the luxurious LS sedan or flashy LC grand tourer coupe. Instead, Iacono described this SUV as a niche off-roader that won’t sell at high volumes, but will serve as a must-have item that makes the brand cool. To us, that sounds a lot like the previously reported Lexus-badged version of the next-generation Land Cruiser. Curiously, Iacono later refers to upcoming refreshes of the GX and LX, so perhaps the new flag-bearer will be called something else. Or, again, perhaps the chairman of the Lexus National Dealer Advisory Council just doesn’t know as much as he lets on in this lengthy interview.

That said, he notes that Lexus will finally commit to the EV market. It was a pioneer with hybrids, but Lexus dealers have been clamoring for a true electric to siphon customers from Tesla. Iacono described the luxury EV landscape as “one player out there that is absorbing all of the opportunities.” That aligns with previous reporting that indicated a mid-size AWD crossover on a platform shared with Toyota and Subaru that’s said to generate a combined 402 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque from its dual motors.

Finally, Lexus’s much-maligned infotainment system is apparently getting a significant rework. He hopes it will help attract younger buyers to the showroom, and we hope it will be more than just adding touchscreen capability to the Remote Touch system as we recently sampled in the 2021 LS.

Speaking of the LS, he says that it too will receive a makeover. “Not too many people really understand where we’re going with the LS, which will be a true benchmark for the brand,” Iacono said. It sounds like the LS will be sticking around, even though it will no longer be the crown jewel of the brand.

Finally, Iacono estimated it will take Lexus two to three years to roll out theses changes and replenish its lineup. The full interview can be read here at Automotive News. 

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