Lexus is using the high visibility of the Tokyo Motor Show to debut the LF-Xh concept. The SUV could be the next RX, which is the brand’s best-selling model in the U.S. Yes, this is a big deal. Of course, besides the hybrid drivetrain, Lexus isn’t revealing much about this concept.
We can tell you that the design language — a fancy term for style — of the LF-Xh falls in line with the company’s other concepts of late. However, we haven’t seen any of those other Lexus concepts yet come to fruition as production cars. But Lexus needs to replace the RX sometime around the end of the decade, so we’d guess this concept is a stab at a replacement. What do you think? Check out the photos below and tell us if this is a step in the right direction for Lexus.
The styling appears to be considerably more chiseled and chunky than the current Lexus RX 350, with sharp creases along the sides and a more aggressive face with narrow headlights. The LF-Xh concept has a 112-inch wheelbase and an overall length of 189 inches. It’s also 75 inches wide and 65 inches high. In comparison, the 2008 Lexus RX 350 has a 106.9-inch wheelbase and an overall length of 186.2 inches. It is 72.6 inches wide and 66.1 inches high. The RX 350 is equipped with a 3.5-liter V6 that delivers 270 horsepower and 251 pound-feet of torque. The engine is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission.
There are concepts ahead of their time, and there are concepts appearing after production designs are done. This hybrid SUV looks like a teaser to prepare buyers for a more angular and expressive RX. If Lexus holds to its usual cycle, a replacement RX will appear in a little more than year as a 2009 model. Lexus is saying only that this is a concept SUV that uses the L-finesse design philosophy that appeared when customers thought the original batch of Lexi too bland -successful as they were.
However “bland” the original RX concept was when it appeared at the Chicago Auto Show in 1997, the production RX300 SUV that appeared in 1998 propelled Lexus to record sales and created the crossover SUV formula ultimately adopted by all makers. The RX quickly became the best seller of the line, car or truck, and with more than 100,000 sales a year it still is. The RX firmly established Lexus as the luxury sales leadership in the U.S. for the past seven years. Even with some pricing pressure from all the competitors, the $40,000 RX remains a leader.
It’s no wonder that the concept is almost identical in dimensions to the existing RX400h and RX350 models. The sharply creased LF has even a larger more exaggerated grille, and more pronounced front fenders and wheel wells than currently offered (length 189.0 inches, width 74.6 in., height 65.0 in., wheelbase 112.2 in.). A five-inch stretch in wheelbase out to the corners might indicate that some vestigial third row seat could be added, but it’s not clear from the interior photo. The huge wheels, cameras instead of exterior mirrors, and lack of door handles or a roof rack are typical show-car tricks that rarely survive in production.
Technical details are scarce at this time. The all-wheel-drive vehicle has a V-6 gasoline engine and ” Lexus Hybrid Drive ” just like the existing car. It’s also expected Toyota will continue to use NiCad batteries as it has since the original Prius appeared a decade ago. Toyota has been extremely skeptical about the near term prospects for the use of lithium-ion batteries in hybrids, that General Motors is betting on for its Volt hybrid. No need to change the winning formula?