Lexus might build a performance SUV, and it could be an off-roader

2019 Lexus NX

2019 Lexus NX

Some sort of performance-oriented SUV could be in Lexus’ future, and the brand is in “active conversation” about what form it could take. It would mark the first time the F performance badge would appear on a crossover or SUV.

Cooper Ericksen, vice president for product planning and strategy at Lexus, shared the insight ahead of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, according to a Motor1 report this past Sunday. Ericksen admitted the brand questions if on-road performance is a better investment than off-road performance for F. 

2019 Lexus LX

2019 Lexus LX

There are two distinct routes Lexus and the F division may take. One is a crossover SUV that focuses on on-street performance; the other is the option to build an off-road focused SUV. Lexus’ portfolio would provide the basis for both options, but we imagine the question of branding has come into play.

Would an off-road performance SUV suit the Lexus brand? It seems rather unlikely. While the GX and LX models are more than capable to carry such a torch, they haven’t been updated in quite some time. Should Lexus put some money into them for a new generation it could be possible. The success of the Ford F-150 Raptor might be tantalizing here. If Lexus did focus on off-road performance, it would carve somewhat of a niche among rivals, one only Land Rover has explored.

2019 Lexus RX

2019 Lexus RX

Instead, the former option seems more plausible. Lexus could tap the UX, NX, or RX to engineer a performance crossover to battle the best from BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz. However, all of these vehicles are aimed more toward luxury than sportiness and their structures and suspensions would have to be thoroughly revised to compete with a vehicle like the BMW M5, for example. They would also have to get considerably more power.

Ericksen’s comments follow news the brand is, in general, open to expanding its portfolio of F-badged models. Currently, only the RC and GS offer true F variants. We’ll likely see the badge debut on the LC coupe in the near future, and now it looks like a performance SUV could be the next vehicle to get the full F treatment.

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