Unibody Lexus GX, Turbo Powerplants a Possibility

Unibody Lexus GX, Turbo Powerplants a Possibility

At a recent 2013 Lexus ES 350 media event, Mark Templin, group vice president and general manager of Lexus, brought up the idea that the next generation GX SUV could be built on a unibody architecture.

Currently the GX SUV is a body-on-frame platform, and the Japanese automaker is considering shifting it to a unibody architecture on its next go around. For years now, Lexus has been considering a three-row, unibody CUV said Templin. But the GX has been so successful for the brand that it was difficult to fix something that wasn’t exactly broken.

In recent years however, many other automakers have ushered in a generation of three-row CUVs such as the new Infiniti JX and the BMW X3. Lexus has even trademarked the name ‘JX’ in the last decade as a possible larger CUV offering. If Lexus was to switch the GX to a unibody platform, it would be following in the footsteps of the upcoming Nissan Pathfinder and the new Ford Explorer.

What will probably be the biggest decision for Lexus, however, is whether or not a bigger CUV would cannibalize sales of  its popular RX model. The RX sold 82,595 units in 2011, one of the luxury market’s top sellers – number two in fact, behind the BMW 3 Series.

And with many of the other automakers moving to smaller, four-cylinder turbocharged powerplants to preserve performance while enhancing fuel efficiency, Lexus is considering doing the same. Currently it has multiple teams exploring the idea of forced-induction engines, but chances are we might not see them anytime soon.

The naturally-aspirated 3.5-liter V6 that is powering the new ES model has more horsepower and better fuel economy than a comparable turbocharged four-cylinder, said Templin. The 2013 ES 350 is estimated to have 26 hp, but no fuel economy figures have been announced.

“There’s an older generation that remembers turbos as something being broken down, very expensive, (and that) had this turbo lag,” he says. “With young people, they sound cool.”

[Source: Wards Auto]