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CEO: Lexus should have launched three-row CUV, not RC coupe

Lexus is kind of regretting the RC coupe.

If Lexus had a mulligan to play, it would have launched a three-row crossover instead of the RC sports coupe, the brand's top United States executive has revealed.

The RC coupe, which has been a decent seller for Lexus, quenched dealers' thirst for a halo-type vehicle, but Jim Lentz, Toyota Motor Corp.'s North American CEO, says a three-row crossover to rival the Mercedes-Benz GL and Audi Q7 would have been a smarter play.

"In hindsight, if I was making this decision 10 years ago, seeing what I see today, the three-row [crossover] probably would have been the better play to come out first,” Lentz told Automotive News.

He continued: "Strategically that's a more important vehicle to have than necessarily a lower volume, higher priced image product."

The RC has accounted for 4,258 sales so far this year — beating out the company's flagship LS sedan — but Toyota estimates that a three-row SUV could have added 35,000 units to the brand's annual sales count. By that measure Lexus would have sold around 11,500 units of its hypothetical Q7 competitor through the first four months of 2015.

Lentz declined to comment on whether Lexus was currently working on a three-row crossover, but that seems like a distinct possibility. Lexus has two three-row offerings in the GX and LX, but both of those models are truck-based and are not as smooth driving or fuel efficient as car-based utility models like the RX.

Images by Drew Johnson.

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