What is it?
The LX450d is Japanese luxury carmaker Lexus's flagship SUV. Based on the Toyota Land Cruiser LC200, the LX450d is posher and more luxurious. It also comes with an eye-watering price tag of Rs 2.32 crore (ex-showroom, Delhi). For India, this is Lexus’s third product after the ES300h sedan and the RX450h SUV. But unlike those two, which are hybrids, the LX450d is available with only a V8 diesel engine.
A casual glance at this mammoth SUV is most likely going to be converted into a stare. Yes, it has the road presence, measuring a little over 5m in length and almost 2m in width. Its sheer dimensions are enough to intimidate other mortals on the streets. The high bonnet, large wheels and the unique spindle grille give the LX450d a lot of character, while the LED headlamps with daytime running lamps and LED fog-plus-cornering lamps add the requisite dose of premiumness. However, look at it from the sides and you might just mistake it for its lesser twin, the Toyota LC200 – there’s very little in terms of profile that’s different. It’s so huge and bulky that it looks like it's got some amount of armour protection from the factory.
What is it like inside?
Getting inside the LX450d is a two-step trek. There’s an option to lower the SUV a bit each time it’s turned off, for easier access. Lexus has completely redesigned the interiors compared to the LC200 and has taken the premium feel up a few notches. There are high-quality leather and wood trims all across. The instrument console looks crisp and the analogue clock located at the centre of the dashboard is very classy. The quality of parts is mostly good except that there are several bits that feel out of place in a car of this price. The gear console has a plethora of buttons and knobs (many for the off-road controls) which, to get acquainted with, takes time. Also, certain buttons like those for park assist placed behind the steering are out of sight. Shockingly, this car gets a manual sunshade for the sunroof. What’s nice though are the front seats which are wide, ventilated and very comfortable. In fact, the throne-like high seating position results in a commanding view of the road. Even the side mirrors are large and to help to park, there are four cameras that offer a 360-degree view. The large infotainment screen isn’t touch-controlled. Instead, there’s a joy pad and some physical buttons to toggle through the options. The sound quality of the 19-speaker Mark Levinson system is great. Owners will miss navigation though.
Those who prefer to sit at the back while being chauffeured might be a bit disappointed with the comfort at the rear. While the seat is wide enough to accommodate three adults, it just lacks in terms of outright comfort. Since the rear seat is positioned low, passengers will have to sit with knees up. Underthigh support is limited and even leg room isn’t as much as what you’d expect from a car of this size. Even the armrest is placed too low for comfort. The good news is that the rear occupants are thoroughly pampered with two 11.6-inch screens, four-zone climate control and also ventilated seats. What’s also nice is that the window line is low and the large glass area brightens up the backseat experience. The split boot opens up to a cavernous cargo area. The full-size spare tyre which sits beneath the body gets an alloy wheel as well.
What is it like to drive?
This SUV has been introduced in India with only one engine option, the 4,461cc, V8 diesel that produces 265hp and 650Nm of torque, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The power and torque figures are much lower than its nearest price competitor – the Range Rover, whose V8 diesel makes 340hp and 740Nm of torque. Also, the LX’s kerb weight of around 3 tonne dulls the performance a fair bit. The moment you put your foot down on the accelerator, there’s a bit of a pause and then this engine begins to build speed. Part throttle responses can occasionally confuse the gearbox and it takes some time to select the correct ratio. This engine is quite noisy for a V8, but thanks to the sound deadening, you won't hear more than a faint diesel rumble inside. One of the reasons for this is the engine’s low idling revs that keep shuttling between merely 500 and 750rpm every 10 seconds, as the AC compressor kicks in and out. Once on the move, the drone is noticeably audible inside the cabin and contrary to the refined nature Lexus vehicles are known for, this one gets vocal as the revs build.
The LX450d behaves like a typical old-school body-on-frame SUV. It rides well over rough patches and doesn’t require one to slow down over bad sections of roads. It’ll iron out the surface pretty well but there’s an ever-present lumpiness you just can’t ignore. There are plenty of body movements too. This SUV comes with ‘adaptive variable suspension’ that varies the stiffness based on the five driving modes – Normal, Eco, Comfort, Sport S and Sport S+. The modes make a noticeable difference to the steering, ride and throttle responses. However, it’s still far from being sporty due to its 1.8m height and body weight. There’s a noticeable body roll around bends and it feels quite top heavy. Even under braking, there’s lots of dive and you can feel the bulk of the vehicle. However, on the straights, this car is absolutely rock solid and will effortlessly munch on the kilometres.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to test the off-road capabilities of this car. But there’s no denying that the Toyota LC200, the car upon which the LX is based, is renowned for being one of the toughest and best off-roaders in the world.
Should I buy one?
The Lexus LX450d is a vehicle that is capable of taking its owners practically anywhere its four wheels can go. It’s luxurious, fairly comfortable and is built like a tank. The car feels bomb-proof and with Japanese reliability, it’s most likely to outlast its owners as well. However, there’s one deal-breaker and that’s the price. It’s a whopping Rs 98 lakh higher than the already expensive LC200. Sure, there’s a lot more you get for your money in comparison, but at Rs 2.32 crore it’s just very expensive to buy in the first place. For perspective, a Range Rover V8 diesel costs Rs 1.98 crore. However, buyers with deep pockets who know the Lexus brand and are aware of the peace of mind that it brings with it, the LX450d is probably the one to go for.
Lexus ES300h review
Lexus RX450h review