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Review: Lexus LX 450d

Driven May 2017

Review: Lexus LX 450d

There is little doubt that Lexus is aiming for an all-hybrid stable the world over. Yes, for India, too. Ironically though, its flagship here is not a hybrid – this massive LX 450d. Derived from the same platform as the much, much cheaper Toyota Land Cruiser 200, the LX has presence of a different kind. The massive spindle-shaped grille at the front, unique 3-LED headlamps and chunky 18-inch wheels all add to the kind of macho look you want from a full-size SUV.


While Lexus has been around since 1989, globally, in India we have had our fair share of imports. Big, burly, rounded vehicles. It’s 2017 and what we get are cars that sport its new design language that first appeared a couple of years ago. Like its other stablemates, even the LX boasts of an edgy design with sharp lines and creases. Taking a cue from the name you can actually see the letter ‘L’ in various forms on the vehicle – be it the LED DRLs, the fog lamp recesses in the front bumper or the way even the spindle grille is shaped. Lexus is only offering 18-inch alloys for now in India but it comes with chunky Bridgestone rubber and looks more than adequate.


Sitting in the LX is like watching the world around you from a vantage point. You need to climb in, literally. Of course, there is help in the form of adaptive suspension that lowers the car by around 50mm to make getting in and out easier. The view is unmistakable SUV with a long, wide bonnet ahead. A reasonably large, a tad heavier than needed, steering wheel with a Lexus logo assures this car means business. Of course, not as well as the array of buttons and dials for any off-road soirees. We will come to that later. The instrument cluster is a classic two-dial display. Buttons and dials are spread out on the centre console with a large TFT screen on top of it. A fixed one. This isn’t a fancy multimedia interface like say, in the Porsche Panamera, but has the usual bits like navigation, entertainment and telephone. All these can be controlled by a joystick that sits next to the gear lever.

The 450d comes with only two rows of seats. Two reasons. First, a third row would have added further to the weight woes of the 2.5-tonne brute. Second, most target owners like to maintain privacy and typically, an LX is used for personal travel and is chauffeur driven in India. Speaking of which, the rear seats offer plenty of comfort thanks to a sorted ride and features like individual TV screens and climate control zones. The only bit we did not like was the lack of under-thigh support thanks to a high floor. No third row seat means there's loads of luggage space, too.

The other thing that's present in loads is torque. The LX 450d gets a grunty 4,461cc, 650Nm diesel V8. It’s a noisy unit, a tad agricultural sounding on the outside but thanks to some over the top sound insulation you hardly hear it inside the car. This is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. SUVs may not be needed to be sprightly but all the weight and bulk is accentuated by this relatively slow gearbox. The LX 450d needs some serious force of the right foot to be awakened. But once up, it can gather speed at will, helped by the 261 horses that can be deployed at the top end. As a result, it can potentially manage a 0-100kph time of 8.6 seconds. Yes, four wheel drive helps.


Speaking of which, the LX 450d has serious armoury to handle off-roading. From low range to diff lock to surround-view cameras, everything that can be needed to tackle the rough is available. It even has a multi-terrain system that can automatically manage uneven terrain. There is a crawl function too where the driver would just need to steer the car and it will accelerate and brake to navigate the terrain better automatically. And, of course, you can raise and lower the vehicle with the press of a button.

The LX 450d moves like a full-size SUV. Takes some time waking up but once up to speed it can barrel down a highway with the same purposefulness of a battle tank. All this while still keeping the insides calm. Perfect, then, to play your favourite tracks on the LX's custom Mark Levinson music system through nothing less than 19 speakers. This is high-quality audio, which you'll be delighted to know if you're big on music.

The LX 450d is a fine example of over-the-top engineering by Toyota’s luxury arm. There is reason to believe that while the DNA may be the same, Lexus vehicles are built rather differently, starting with the way they look to the levels of quality screening that they need to go through compared to a Toyota. Typically, safety is a big take too with nothing less that 10 dual-stage airbags and a whole lot of traction control systems, cornering lights and cameras to help make the drive safe. Typically, the look inside is a bit on the sombre side and it would be nice if Lexus could have taken a step further and offered even more features than its rivals considering the relatively higher cost of purchase. At Rs 2.3 crore (ex-showroom), the LX 450d is looking at a on-road price of Rs 3 crore, which is more money than it warrants. Yes, the flagship Lexus is almost everything you would want from a luxury SUV. It’s an experience that may not necessarily be replicated but it comes for a price. And a serious one at that.

Verdict: A fine example of how to justify all letters of the acronym 'SUV'. We would have rated it higher, but for the price.

Specs: 4461cc, V8 diesel, 261bhp, 650Nm, 6A, 0-100 in 8.6s, 9.6kpl (claimed), 285/60 R18.

Girish Karkera

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