Lexus built its reputation on passenger cars that could match up with the luxury marquees with long pedigrees stretching back to the early days of motoring.
But times change and the rising popularity of utility vehicles, large and small, is prompting Lexus to add new variants and features to its lineup of crossovers and SUVs. Next week, Lexus plans to show off the new, UX, the compact utility vehicle it revealed in Geneva, at the New York Auto Show.
The push on utility vehicles come as crossovers and SUVs have become more important than ever to the Lexus line, accounting for roughly 65% of all Lexus sales during the first two months of 2018. Three years ago, only about 35% of Lexus’ sales were utility vehicles and passenger cars accounted for the rest.
The introduction of the new LS 500 sedan is expected to raise the total sales of Lexus’ passenger cars this month. Nonetheless, Lexus is keenly aware of the customer preferences, noted Michael Moore, Lexus senior manager of product marketing. Year to date, Lexus sales are up 7.4%, but its driving by sales of utility vehicles, which are up 15.1%.
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The Lexus RX, the first luxury utility vehicle, is still the single best-selling luxury vehicle in the U.S., noted Michael Moore, Lexus senior product marketing manager. The addition of the RX350L and the RX450h hybrid, which go on sale next month, will serve to extend and enhance the RX line. he said.
The 2018 RX 350L and RX 450hL models retain the fundamental silhouette but also offer the choice of six or seven-passenger capability. Lexus notes the combination of SUV versatility and luxury sedan-like comfort of the LUV package are set by the exterior design’s mix of sharp creases and curves.
Lexus also has updated the NX 200t for 2018 in design of both RXL variants.
Now called the NX 300, it comes with more standard equipment and new features to complement a busy lifestyle. The new features include the Lexus Safety System plus, Lexus Enform Wi-Fi with 4GB of space and a power rear door with kick sensor.
Additional options include: an updated luxury package that blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert and an optional comfort package with heated and ventilated seats for both the driver and the passenger.
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A 4.2-inch Thin-Film-Transistor LCD in the center of the instrument cluster provides a full-color Multi Information Display. A change in drive modes using the Drive Mode Select switch triggers a colored illumination in the MID — red for Sport mode, for example. The MID can also display phone and audio information.
The Lexus NX 300h emphasizes efficiency with 33 miles per gallon city/30 mpg highway/31 mpg combined EPA-estimated fuel economy. An electronic on-demand all-wheel-drive system with intelligence is also standard.
For more than two decades, the Lexus lineup also has offered a full-sized body-on-frame SUV, which offered off-road capability with the capacity to tow more than 7,000 pounds with a luxurious cabin and solid on-road manners.
Until now, the LX was offered only in the three-row luxury utility. But Lexus product experts said some customers had expressed a preference for more interior cargo space. It has responded by eliminating the third row of seats and the two-row model offers 50.5 cubic feet of carrying space behind the middle row.
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With Lexus Enform Remote – complimentary for the first year of ownership – the LX 570 owner can remotely view and control certain aspects of the vehicle using a mobile app for iOS and Android devices. The app can lock or unlock the doors, remote-start or stop the engine or climate control, locate the vehicle in a parking lot and set up a guest driver monitor