If you think Lexus’ LX 450d and 570 look spookily like Toyota’s Landcruiser, you’re right.
In fact, they are sister cars. Lexus took the Toyota and gave it a bit of spit and polish.
A huge spindle grille might work on the sleek front of sexy little IS sedan, but the story is very different on a behemoth like LX.
The range has only 2 models. The base model LX450d, and the top LX570. In addition, an options pack can be added to the LX570 for an extra $16,000.
Opinion is split as to whether or not Lexus overcooked the styling. There are slashes, lines, creases and bulges, and the front and rear don’t seem to match the gentle undulations along the side of the body.
Standard 20” wheels do nothing to disguise the hulking silhouette.
I mentioned the spindle grille, well, it comes up to my chest. LX is almost truck sized. The look eventually grows on you once you’ve been driving the LX for a week or so.
Standard side steps and crouching adjustable hydraulic suspension, help passengers to climb on board, but it is still quite a reach.
Around the back we find a nice two-piece tail gate. Only the top hatch section is powered. Once opened, the lower section allows a good load height, and an ideal perch from which to watch the poor people at BBQs.
The spacious cabin has much of what a Lexus buyer would expect.
Two colours of “leather appointed” interiors are offered. Our car was black, grey, and matte chrome with touches of silver for good measure.
Powered adjustment for seats, steering wheel, and mirrors have 3 memories and can be saved on the move, unlike other settings where the car must be parked to be fettled.
Seating for 5 (7 on LX570) is extremely comfortable. There is seat heating but no cooling. A nifty cool-box for drinks is concealed by the big centre armrest.
Once seated, you realise just how high up you are. Despite the vast interior space, controls are within easy reach and are well designed.
What is not so good, is the infotainment interface. The joystick sits in front of a wrist-rest, and controls the movement of a cursor on the 12.3” LCD screen. The screen has no touch input so the joystick is your only option. Voice control is uncooperative to say the least, so don’t bother with it.
Equally annoying is the warning for such things as lights and school zones. The only way to turn it off is to completely turn off the voice for navigation. Previously, you could have voice prompts for navigation without the warnings.
The only time voice control is handy is when you want to cancel a navigation. There is no “stop navigation” function otherwise.
The design language eschews the sleek modern interiors of other Lexus models. Instead, the LX 450d has a chunky, manly feeling. The mood is one of a fine gentlemen’s hunting lodge rather than a sleek city bar.
Unlike her Toyota sister, LX450d has only 5 seats. You’d expect that to mean more room in the cargo hold, but it has only 400L of space when packed to the top of the rear seats. The cargo hold floor is quite high to accommodate the spare tyre underneath the vehicle.
Lexus has given the LX a generous suite of luxury goodies.
The leather is a mix of that which comes from a cow, and a factory. I defy you to pick the difference.
Adjustable hydraulic suspension can be raised or lowered with a button on the console. Next to it are dials for drive modes, and off-road programmes. Lexus 450d uses Toyota’s excellent “crawl” system which uses allows the big SUV to operate the wheels and steering to slowly get out of the most appalling mud, and deepest sand.
It can feel a bit strange to have your seat heating come on when you aren’t expecting it thanks to Climate Concierge.
One noticeable absence is active steering for lane watch.
- Quad zone climate control
- Heated seats
- 3” LCD display
- DAB radio (no Apple CarPlay/Android Auto)
- Crawl system
- Low/high range gearing with locking hubs
- Off-road drive programmes
- 5 on-road drive modes (1 customisable)
- Adjustable Hydraulic suspension
- Wireless phone charger
Here are a few things the 450d gets over the Landcruiser:
- Adjustable hydraulic suspension
- All 5 tyres have air pressure monitoring
- Adaptive high LED high beams (regular high beam assist on LC200)
- Easy access (seats and steering wheels move away from driver)
- 3”LCD screen (9” on LC200)
- 20” wheels (18” on LC200, *21” on LX570)
- 93L fuel tank (138L Sahara/LX570)
- 5 seats only (LC200 gets 7)
I’m not normally excited by driving a 2,700kg brute around town. Full size SUVs are a handful, but so much fun.
Our drive took us to the undulating hills of Queensland’s Gold Coast.
Drive modes include Sport and Sport+ where the dash gets all red and angry, and the suspension and steering toughen up. The throttle and transmission become more responsive too.
The 6-speed automatic, and 4.5 twin-turbo diesel were set to be super attentive, while the suspension and steering were nice and relaxed. There is no point to trying to make a big truck emulate a nippy hatch. It just won’t ever happen.
In tight mountain roads, LX450d lurched rather alarmingly when pushed hard, but remained composed and comfortable. Sport mode gave the 200kW engine extra perk, but it is the 650Nm of torque that pulls up hills.
You feel the immense torque at low speeds and it is this that torque helps you crawl over sand and rock.
While the LX450d is quick off at the lights, it quickly runs out of puff. It is a cruiser not a sprinter, and on the open road is sublime.
Filling the 93L tank to the brim would cost a bit, but you’d get a decent 1,000km from it. We managed a decent 11.5L/100k over highway, mountain, and city roads.
You might expect a few more cogs on that automatic, but six is your lot which seems a trifle mean. None the less, the unit is silky smooth as the deep rumbling purr reaches a crescendo, then drops a visceral tone or two.
Parking is easier than one might think. The cameras give an excellent view all round.
- 360° cameras
- Terrain monitoring sensors
- Lexus Pre-collision system
- Active radar cruise control
- Blind spot monitor
- Lane departure warning
- Interior comfort
- Off-road ability
- 3,500 braked towing
Not So Good Bits
- Interior slightly old fashioned
- No cooled seats
- Hard to use infotainment interface (and no CarPlay)
You feel posh as you waft along in the rarefied, wasp-breaths of air emanating from the vents. There is almost no sound coming from the road, and only the occasional gentle throb from up front.
You get Japan’s superb build quality too.
After a week, I wondered whether the $146,217 (drive away) base model Lexus LX was really worth more than the $123,972 (drive away) Land Cruiser Sahara.
In the end, despite the slightly controversial styling, LX450d was worth the extra money. The LX450d will go further than her petrol sister.
Very few other luxury SUVs are true 4WD off-roaders. Bentley, Audi and BMW give you AWD, but lack low range. That is something to consider if you’re heading inland towing your multi-terrain van.
If Toyota’s Landcruiser is the “King of the Road”, then surely the Lexus LX is the queen.
Facts and Figures: 2018 Lexus LX 450d
- Engine: 4.5L V8 twin-turbo diesel producing 200kW/650Nm
- Transmission: Six-speed automatic
- Warranty: 4 years/ 100,000km
- Safety: Not tested
- Origin: Japan
- Price: from $134,500