Lexus LX500d review: Position of power

    When it comes to super-luxury SUVs, can the big Lexus go toe-to-toe with the popular establishment?

    Published on Aug 25, 2023 08:00:00 AM

    12,192 Views

    Make : Lexus
    Model : LX
    We Like
    • Exudes toughness
    • Strong road presence
    We Don't Like
    • Expensive
    • Interior lacks luxe appeal

    If you are in the market for a luxury SUV with a budget of around Rs 3 crore, you’re probably wondering where the closest Range Rover dealership is, or which colour combination would look best on a Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600. But if you don’t want a car that half of Bollywood has, and if your idea of a party is the kind that contests elections, then the Lexus LX500d is worth looking at.

    Lexus LX500d design

    A single glance isn’t enough for the LX. Measuring over five metres in length and with a width of almost two metres, you need to step a fair bit back to get a complete look. As with previous iterations, it’s clear the LX is a sister SUV to the Toyota Land Cruiser, but this time, Lexus designers have been given a bit more of a free hand. The front is unapologetic, with a massive grille that will give modern BMWs an inferiority complex.

    Measuring 5 metres long and almost 2 metres wide, the new LX is an absolute behemoth.

    The sharp LED headlamps on either side look like holstered knives, and the indented bonnet with strong power lines adds some more muscle. Seeing this front end in your rear-view mirror will make you jump out of your lane. The profile is equally bonkers, with massive 22-inch wheels elevating this SUV above the rest, and strong lines and creases that look sharp.

    The rear quarter is also striking to look at, with a thick rising chrome band at the D-pillar, and it is only at the back where things simmer down. The simple LED tail-lamps are conjoined, and there is very little drama to speak of. However, the tall and boxy look gives it a heightened stance, and adds hugely to the road presence.

    Lexus LX500d interior, features and space

    Getting inside the LX is a heightened experience too, since there isn’t any fancy electric side step that protrudes as you open the door. One foot on the fixed side step, grab the handle on the A-pillar and haul yourself inside. Once you land in the seat, what you get is an interior that would make you wonder, is this what I am paying for? The design is more like Japan’s bullet trains and not the Hogwarts Express – all business, with not a lot of flair. However, it is a huge step forward compared to the previous generation. Quality, for one, is impeccable and so is the feel-good factor. There is a nice blend of aluminium, polished wood and leather, along with a healthy dose of piano black trim. The 12.3-inch touchscreen is slick to use, gets wireless Apple CarPlay (but wired Android Auto), navigation and the other basics, and there is another screen below this that displays the climate control settings and a bit of off-road data as well.

    360-degree camera is a bonus in tight spaces.

    Thankfully, there are physical switches for the climate control function, and lower down on the centre console, you get a whiff of Toyota, with an array of plastic buttons for the diff lock, traction control and ride height adjust; no knurled finish or metal effect here. There is also a huge cooler box that can fit two one-litre bottles or other beverages and is rather effective at cooling them.

    Cooler box is hugely effective and can fit plenty.

    There is a sunroof as well, but it isn’t a panoramic one, which is unheard of in a car of this price and size in 2023, and hard to justify too. Then, there is the instrument cluster, which is a digital unit, but feels a few years old, especially when you are toggling through the menus.

    Standard sunroof robs away sense of space.

    What is very good, though, are the front seats. Broad, well-cushioned and with plenty of support via the electric adjust, they are an absolute joy to spend long hours in. They also get memory, heating and ventilation, but no massaging option, while the driver’s seat gets additional under-thigh adjustment that helps on long drives.

    Rear space is tight and seats lack under thigh support as well.

    What comes as a surprise is the back seat space, or lack thereof. Taller passengers will require adjustments to the front seats and even then, space is far from what the competition offers, especially considering the LX’s sheer size. The seat cushioning is good and you can recline the backrest, but the knee room is decent at best and under-thigh support is inadequate. Sure, you get dual-zone climate control at the rear with heating and ventilation for two seats, and there are also 11.6-inch touchscreens as part of a rear entertainment package. However, the majority of Lexus LX owners have always been spotted in the front passenger seat, and now we know why. That said, the petrol version sold overseas is available with an ‘Ultra Luxury’ pack that gets you a pair of lush, powered captain’s chairs for the middle row, and not offering that in India seems to have been a big miss. Similarly, there isn’t a third row on the India-spec LX (the version overseas gets one), and instead, what you get is a fairly large boot.

    Rear entertainment screens are standard fit.

    Lexus LX500d powertrian and driving impressions

    Powering this big, two-tonne-plus SUV is a 3.3-litre, twin-turbo V6 diesel engine that makes 308hp and 700Nm; plenty for the city and perfect for cruising on highways. Overtaking is fairly easy too as long as you take into account its size. Step on the accelerator and even in the more-relaxed Normal or Comfort modes, the LX lunges ahead whilst the engine growls. The gruff diesel drone is something you will need to get used to as, even at part throttle, you can hear the engine inside the otherwise well-insulated cabin.

    V6 diesel is torquey, but is noisy when you demand more performance.

    Change the mode into Sport S or Sport S+ and the performance is amplified. The engine is more responsive, suspension tauter and gearbox quicker. What is also amplified though, is the engine sound, which gets loud enough to make you switch it back into Comfort. Mated to the engine is a 10-speed automatic gearbox; it is a torque converter with close ratios, which means off-the-line response is quite good and once it gets to 10th gear, the engine isn’t sounding like Godzilla. There is a manual mode too, which allows you to use the beautiful metal paddle shifters, but this isn’t a car you’d enjoy on a twisty ribbon of tarmac.

    Lexus LX500d platform, ride and handling

    The new LX is based on Toyota’s new TNGA-F platform and is a good 200kg lighter than its predecessor, but it still feels cumbersome in traffic. The steering feels heavy and, as a result, three-point turns and parking require muscle. Handling was never its forte, and true to many body-on-frame SUVs, the LX pitches and rolls in corners. Switching to Sport+ does help, but it still is far from its rivals in terms of dynamics. What it aces, however, is ride quality. It sits on adaptive air suspension and despite the large 22-inch wheels, the ride quality, especially over bad roads, is excellent. The 265/50 tyres are chunky enough to flatten almost everything beneath them and the inherently soft setup means only big craters register in the cabin. Even in the sportier modes, it is only the lean that is reduced, but the bump absorption remains consistently good.

    22-inch wheels look superb without compromising ride quality.

    The suspension can also be raised while off-roading and since the LX does have MTS (Multi Terrain Select) and low-range for the gearbox, you can explore the unknown and come out of the other side unscathed. But we’re not sure, at this price, how many would actually want to get muck on that striking front end.

    Enough off-road tech to get you through the worst.

    Lexus LX500d price and verdict

    The LX has always been an outlier in the company of super-luxury SUVs from the West. It isn’t as special on the inside, it doesn’t have many of the features seen on rivals, it lacks the same level of rear-seat comfort, it isn’t particularly great to drive and it is one of the priciest. And yet, there is high demand and respect for it in India.

    The LX500d is priced at a steep Rs 2.8 crore (ex-showroom, India).

    It has a lot to do with its image, which, in turn, is defined by the customers it’s most popular with. The LX and its Toyota counterpart, the Land Cruiser LC300, are a huge hit with ministers, party heads and top brass in the political world. It is a byword for reliability, which is one area where it truly outshines its counterparts from the West. It is an SUV, which if diligently serviced, can be a family heirloom that is passed on for generations. Yes, it is a steep ask at Rs 2.8 crore (ex-showroom), but then it also holds its value extremely well, and will last an eternity. If you want one SUV for the rest of your life, the LX is worth spending on.

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    Tech Specs

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