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Lexus CX 300h Hybrid: Luxury Brand To Launch RX Baby Brother?

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2011 Lexus RX 450h

2011 Lexus RX 450h

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Last September, Toyota said the company would launch six new hybrids by the end of 2012.

Now, a report from the German car magazine AutoBild suggests that one of those is a new Lexus: a baby brother for the brand's hugely successful RX 450h hybrid crossover utility vehicle.

The new compact crossover, which AutoBild dubs the CX 300h, would be based on the Toyota RAV4--meaning it too might be built in North America, as the RAV4 is.

2011 Toyota RAV4

2011 Toyota RAV4

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There's no current RAV4 hybrid model, although if the report on the Lexus CX 300h is true, a RAV4 Hybrid would make sense. A pair of compact hybrid crossovers would mimic the arrangement between the larger Lexus RX 450h and the Toyota Highlander Hybrid, which share their basic platforms as well.

On the RAV4 front, however, the company is expected to launch a fully electric conversion for sale next year. Engineered by Tesla and first unveiled at the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show, the limited-production model is to be known as the 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV.

The Lexus CX 300h, if it appears, would compete directly with the smallest crossovers from other luxury brands, including the BMW X1, the upcoming Audi Q3, the Infiniti EX, and the Cadillac SRX.

2012 Audi Q3

2012 Audi Q3

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Going out on a limb, we suspect that the powertrain for an upcoming CX 300h might be the larger 2.5-liter four used with the company's Hybrid Synergy Drive system in the Camry Hybrid and the notably unsuccessful HS 250h dedicated hybrid sedan.

A smaller hybrid crossover would play to Lexus's strength, as the RX crossover line continues to be its mainstay in the United States, its strongest global market. As of May, the RX line represented 45 percent of all Lexus vehicles sold in the U.S. this year.

Lexus clearly hopes to build on that success in a segment--compact luxury crossovers--in which it's been notably absent thus far.

To see AutoBild's rendering of what a Lexus CX 300h might look like, click on the link below.

[AutoBild]

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