What is it?
For starters it’s huge and it’s got bucket loads of presence. That massive chrome grille will fill an entire rear view mirror of any hatchback. What it is, is Lexus’s flagship SUV, the LX450d. Now we won’t blame you if you say it looks quite ‘similar’ to a Toyota Land Cruiser that’s because it is based on one. Thanks to the Lexus badge it’s actually a much more premium and luxury laden version of the Land Cruiser LC200.
For now, let’s forget about the similarities and concentrate on the LX for what it is, an absolute head turner. The massive size means it’s like a small house approaching and that’s not too difficult to miss. The front is typical Lexus thanks to the family spindle grille. The angular LED headlamps fit right in and along with the stylish cornering cum fog lamps give the front plenty of character. It’s when you move to the sides that the similarities are hard to ignore.
The silhouette is pretty similar to the LC thanks to the slab sided design. What you also notice is the fabulous paint job. The paint job is simply stunning and everything from the metallic flakes to the finish stands out beautifully.
Lexus assures us that this is a specialty that is exclusive and can’t be seen even on the most costly Toyota’s. Overall, the LX might not have the most modern designs to flaunt, but what it lacks in curves, it more than makes up for it with an in-your-face design.
How is it on the Inside?
Climbing inside the LX reveals a premium looking and feeling cabin. The dashboard is dominated by a large screen (which does not get touch feature) atop the multi-button centre console. The instrument console looks great and offers a plethora of information. Like in most premium cars you also get a classy analogue clock in the centre of the dash, just in case someone finds reading a digital clock too passé. The front seats are massive and will envelope most healthy shapes with utmost ease. The seating also gives you a high perched view of the road ahead.
Pretty much everything is operated by a button and you have plenty of those all over, some in places you cannot even see like the park assist button which is placed behind the steering wheel. This is one car that will mandate the read of the user manual. However in the midst of all the electronic assist, Lexus has surprisingly offered a manual sunshade for the sunroof. Guess you can’t have it all.
Moving to the back, there is no denying the space, however it could have been packaged more smartly. The width is there for three people to sit abreast with absolute ease, however legroom isn’t as lavish as one would expect from such a large car. Don’t get us wrong, your knees are never going to protrude into the front seats unless you’re seven feet tall, but it’s just that we expected it to be a lot more roomier. The rear passengers are pampered well though and they better be considering a huge part of this Lexus’ clientele are going to be chauffeur driven. The passengers get their own 11.6 inch screen, four-zone climate control and reclining seats as well.
How Does it Drive?
To haul almost three tonne of weight, the LX comes powered by a 4461cc V8 diesel engine that churns out 270bhp and 650Nm of torque. Frankly the figures aren’t too impressive considering an Audi Q7 with a 2967cc V6 puts out 245bhp and 600Nm of torque. As a result the LX, isn’t really a scorcher. Put your foot down and the 6-speed automatic transmission starts whipping all 270 horses. There is a slightly pause before the LX starts gathering momentum and gets upto speed. Being a Lexus, the diesel thrum is well within limits and you can only hear it when the engine has downshifted to a higher gear.
The LX gets a ladder on frame chassis to keep its rugged roots intact so it’s a given that it won’t stitch corners like its monocoque equipped competition. But drive it within is limits and the LX won’t give you much to complain about. You get five driving modes to choose from and adaptive variable suspension that as the name implies varies the shock absorbers stiffness.
Changing the modes affect steering, ride and throttle responses, with ‘Comfort’ being your best bet. Sport S and Sport S+ does make driving more engaging but at the cost of ride quality which becomes lumpy. Its towering height means body roll is always omnipresent but it never scares you unless you really drive it like you stole it and assume that it’s a sportscar.
Straight-line stability though is faultless and the car feels extremely planted even under crosswinds doing three digit speeds. It will also take manage to take you to your remote farmhouse which could involve taking it off the beaten path. Should the going get tough, all you need to do is use the Multi-terrain dial and choose from a variety of terrain options. For even more demanding conditions there is crawl control which adjusts the torque and brakes on each wheel independently which means the driver can focus on the steering wheel without any distractions. So yes, the LX can handle some pretty tricky situations but that would mean getting the LX’s shiny boots dirty, something most LX owners would strictly refrain from.
Should I buy one?
If you always dreamt of owning a Lexus and think the Toyota Land Cruiser LC200 is too ordinary for you, your chance to own one is finally here. The other reason you should get one is if you are Shahrukh Khan and you need something equally swanky to match your personality. And finally you should definitely get one if you’ve got really really deep pockets and the LX’s ridiculous sticker price will barely affect it. But other than that Lexus also promises to offer a customer service like no other, but that is something we shall elaborate on at a later stage.
Where does it fit in?
At 2.32 crore ex-Delhi, the LX450d sits at the top of the heap of the premium SUV’s. While you do have options like the Mercedes-Benz GLS, Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne, Range Rover Sports and the in-house competition in the form of the LC200, the LX’s price means you can have 2 of them for the price of an LX450d. So the Lexus does not really fit in anywhere and has clearly created a void for itself. A very exclusive one that is.
Photos: Kapil Angane