Final decision still to come on whether American-built Lexus TX three-row SUV will be made available to Australia in right-hand drive
Lexus plans to build a new three-row SUV model called the TX in the United States, but decisions are still being made on whether the seven-seater will be offered in right-hand drive (RHD) – and therefore be available to markets like Australia and the United Kingdom.
Speaking with Chasing Cars, Lexus Australia managing director John Pappas confirmed speculation about the existence of the TX, and referred to speculation that the American-made replacement for the discontinued RX L would be built only in left-hand drive upon release.
The TX will be a large seven-seat luxury SUV that will compete with the Audi Q7, BMW X7 and Mercedes-Benz GLS. It will measure around 5200mm in length and will be a purpose-built three-row vehicle, unlike the outgoing RX L which was a stretched five-seater. The TX could be priced from around $110,000 if it was released in Australia.
Pressed on whether right-hand drive has been ruled out for the Lexus TX, Pappas indicated that it remained a possibility – but that Lexus Australia was exploring various seven-seater options for family buyers, beyond the Toyota Land Cruiser-based Lexus LX three-row four-wheel drive.
On the possibility of an Australian release of the Lexus TX, Lexus boss Pappas said “we haven’t really gone there yet – there will be a lot more discussions that need to take place, so it’s still early days.”
Pappas indicated that the complication for getting the TX built in right-hand drive is the fact the model will be made in America. However, it is possible that the Lexus TX will be constructed at Toyota’s Princeton, Indiana factory that currently builds the right-hand drive Toyota Kluger for Australia.
Princeton is being expanded with a billion-dollar investment to build a longer iteration of the Kluger called the Grand Highlander – it would be the Grand Kluger in Australia.
The existence of the TX was revealed by Lexus US national dealer advisory council chairman John Iacono earlier in 2022. Originally reported in US publication Automotive News, Iacono said the TX was directed to “a much younger buyer than [Lexus] has now – younger buyers in their 40s and 50s.”
In March of this year, Twitter account Cars in Pixels identified a technical rendering of the TX associated with a Toyota Motor Corporation patent for a new TX model, badged the TX550h+, which would likely be a turbocharged 2.4-litre petrol plug-in hybrid version.
Other TX powertrains are said to include a TX350 turbo-petrol, and a TX500h turbo series-parallel hybrid.
Attracting younger family buyers is a key priority for Lexus Australia, with local boss Pappas telling Chasing Cars that the incoming fifth-generation RX will attract a younger demographic to the model than its current, more traditional and older buyer.
However, the end of the RX L’s run will leave Lexus without a typical seven-seat SUV, relying only on the rugged but pricey LX four-wheel drive (from $147,991 before on-road costs) for those needing extra seats.
By contrast, Lexus’s German rivals are relatively flush with seven-seat SUV options for Australian customers.
Pappas said that Lexus Australia keeps a watching brief on appropriate products to add to the local range, including three-row SUVs.
“We keep reviewing the line-up, and what we want to bring to Australia … we continue to review it with Lexus International, and if we think there’s anything available that is suitable to our market, if we think there is a really good business case, then we’ll put our hands up.
“We’ll continue to review whether we think that there’s a requirement for us to fill a third row. And then we’ll follow the right protocols.”
The opportunity with TX for Lexus is significant. In 2021, the large luxury SUV segment in Australia grew by 16.6% to 20,487 vehicles, with most rivals available with either a standard or optional third row.
Lexus has not yet nailed the three-row brief in Australia, with Lexus boss Pappas telling Chasing Cars that the outgoing RX L accounted for “a very small part” of Australian RX sales.
Last year, the RX and RX L jointly accounted for 1908 sales, while the seven-seat Audi Q7 earned 1646 and the Volvo XC90 doing 1323 sales. The BMW X5 (3173 sales), Mercedes-Benz GLE (3591 sales) and Land Rover Defender (1733 sales) all have an optional third row.
Meanwhile, the upper-large luxury SUV segment grew by 9.4% to 4078 units, with the three-row Mercedes-Benz GLS doing 1110 sales, the BMW X7 791 sales, and the Land Rover Discovery 534 sales.
The RX will continue in Australia as a five-seater but seven-seat buyers are set to be relinquished to the competition if they do not want to join the queue for a Lexus LX, which stretches to more than 12 months at the time of writing in September 2022.
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