There’s a strange kind of brutal beauty to the 2018 Lexus LX450d. It’s not to everyone’s taste, but there’s no denying it makes a statement on the road. It’s the first diesel-powered LX to make its way to Australia, joining the petrol LX570 in the Japanese luxury brand’s upper-large SUV stable.
Nowhere in the Lexus line-up is the brand’s direct links to Toyota more evident than with the LX. To say it borrows heavily from the Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series is, well, just rhetoric. From just about any external angle, the LX bears more than a passing resemblance to its Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series cousin. Yes, the Lexus signature spindle grille dominates the front, and there are some styling tweaks that distinguish it from its mainstream stablemate. But there’s no mistaking those lines.
That LandCruiser influence continues under the bonnet, with the LX450d sporting the same 4.5-litre V8 twin-turbo diesel as found under the snout of the 200 Series. Power is rated at 200kW (at 3600rpm) with a generous helping of torque, 650Nm (from 1600–2800rpm), mirroring the outputs of the ’Cruiser. A six-speed automatic sends that power to all four wheels, permanently.
The Lexus LX450d starts at $134,129 before on-road costs, around $8000 cheaper than its LX570 petrol sibling. That also represents a minuscule reduction of $371 thanks to the increased Luxury Car Tax threshold that kicked in July 1.
This being a Lexus, there are no options, so what you see is what you get for your hard-earned circa $134K. And you get plenty.
Standard highlights include 20-inch alloy wheels, tyre-pressure monitoring, LED headlights with LED daytime-running lights, sequential indicators, surround camera system, adaptive variable suspension, and four-zone climate control.
There's also a leather-accented interior, 12.3-inch infotainment system with sat-nav, a nine-speaker audio system, DAB+ radio, heated front seats, wireless phone charging, rear-door sunshades, and a wood-trimmed steering wheel with paddle-shifters.
In terms of safety, the LX450d comes standard with Lexus Safety System +, which includes adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, adaptive high-beam, and autonomous emergency braking. There’s also a head-up display and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. And there are 10 airbags throughout the cabin. No ANCAP rating, though, as the LX remains untested.
There’s certainly no question this is a luxury SUV. From the moment you open that huge door and step up into the cabin – and make no mistake, you do step up – there is no denying its premium-ness. From the sumptuous leather trim to the plush carpet, everything about the interior reminds you this ain’t no LandCruiser.
There’s a quality to the materials and touchpoints that has been well thought out. Questionable, though, is the use of a light-tan palette for the floor carpet, both in the cabin and in the boot. It won’t take much use before it would start to look very, well, grimy. Still, the lightness does lend the LX interior a light and breezy air.
The steering wheel, finished in leather and wood trim, looks a bit naff. It feels nice in hand, though, offering a solid reassurance with its heft. It’s electrically adjustable too, both tilt and reach, and comes replete with, somewhat incongruously for a vehicle of this type, paddle-shifters.
The 12.3-inch colour screen is razor-sharp in its clarity, but here again, Lexus’s infotainment system is let down largely by the brand persisting with its fiddly mouse-like toggle that remains hypersensitive and difficult to use, particularly when on the move. It mars what is otherwise a pretty decent suite of infotainment features.
The heated leather seats are supremely comfortable, as you’d expect, and can be adjusted electrically, while the driver’s seat features a memory function so you can store your preferred settings should you be sharing your LX450d with other people.
The second row is cavernous, thanks largely to there being no third row. Remember, while the petrol LX570 is an eight-seater with a reasonably spacious third row, the diesel variant is only available as a five-seater. That configuration does free space in the second row, and it does so with aplomb. Leg, knee and toe room are aplenty, while creature comforts abound. The fold-down armrest reveals a storage cubby, climate controls, as well as two pop-out cupholders.
That back row flips and folds away to reveal a decent amount of boot space, some 1431 litres. With the back row in use, that contracts to a pretty generous 909L. There are cupholders in the boot, too, a hangover from its eight-seater configuration in LX570 trim.
Access to the boot is through a horizontally split tailgate, the top half opening upwards, the bottom down. That bottom section makes for a handy table should you stop on your road trip for a cuppa, assuming you’re not towing a caravan. Speaking of which, like the LandCruiser it borrows from, the LX450d is rated to 3500kg (braked) or 750kg unbraked. Handy for that caravan or a decent-sized boat...
The overall feeling of plushness continues on the road. The 4.5-litre twin-turbo diesel offers a refined and quiet driving experience, with none of the clatter or rattling sometimes associated with oilers. That 650Nm of torque comes into play nice and low in the rev range, ensuring there’s always plenty of pep on tap under your right foot.
Of course, hauling nearly three tonnes (2740kg kerb weight to be precise) means the LX450d isn’t going to set any land speed records, but there’s enough urgency from the V8 to not leave you wanting. Lexus claims a nought to triple-figure dash of 8.6 seconds, which isn’t bad considering its bulk and distinct lack of streamlining.
There are six different drive modes available via Lexus’s Drive Mode Select – Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport, Sport+ and Custom – but really, trying to extract any sportiness out of the LX seems counterintuitive. This is a big, lumbering beast of a thing, and you never really escape that feeling. Leave it in Normal or Comfort and accept the LX450d for what it is. And that is a beautifully comfortable luxury SUV with a cossetting ride that isolates you from the outside world.
That’s despite riding on standard 20-inch alloys shod with low-profile rubber too. Tackling the many imperfections that make up the usual urban terrain is simply effortless, while larger hits – such as speed humps – see the Lexus settle back down to earth quickly and easily. There’s little noise intrusion into the cabin either, even at highway speeds. No cabin ever isolates wind and road noise 100 per cent, but the LX450d comes pretty damn close.
That suppleness and comfort are no doubt helped, in part at least, by Lexus's adaptive variable suspension (AVS) that tailors the damper setting according to the terrain. The AVS can also be dialled in through the Drive Mode selector with settings for Comfort or Sport.
Underlining its off-road capabilities are five variable terrain modes that control wheel slip and maximise grip levels across a variety of surfaces – Rock, Rock & Dirt, Mogul, Loose Rook, and Mud & Sand. There’s also Lexus’s Active Height Control that automatically adjusts the height of the LX450d according to the terrain. Standard ride height is 225mm, but the Active Height Control can raise this by as much as 60mm according to the conditions, helping achieve approach and departure angles of 25 and 20 degrees respectively.
Still, the reality is that few, if any, Lexus LXs are ever likely to see too much off-roading (and certainly not with that plush albeit easily marked tan interior). And certainly, with no dual fuel tanks (as found in the LX570 and the LandCruiser Sahara), the 450d has to make do with 93L (against the 570's and Sahara’s combined 138L).
Moreover, we did not take this LX off-road, although from past experience we know it’s supremely capable should you ever decide to head off the beaten track in your luxury, upper-large SUV.
On fuel, Lexus claims a miserly 9.5L/100km on the combined cycle. We didn’t match that, returning low 11s, although it should be noted the bulk of its time in the CA garage was spent on urban duties shuttling kids and shopping bags. Real-world usage then.
The Lexus LX450d is covered by the company’s four-year/100,000km warranty with four years’ roadside assistance. Service intervals are not very generous at six months/10,000km. And while Lexus does not offer a capped-price servicing plan, indicative pricing for the first six scheduled services are: six months/10,000km, complimentary; 12 months/20,000km, $535.56; 18 months/30,000km, $598.11; 24 months/40,000km, $800.32; 30 months/50,000km, $502.44; and 36 months/60,000km, $676.23. All prices are exclusive of GST.
The Lexus LX450d is unapologetic in making a statement. It’s big, it’s brash, and it’s brimming with luxury. Is it the last word in upper-large SUV luxury? No, not by a long shot. But its competitive pricing in a segment where many of its rivals are either nudging or exceeding $200,000, the Lexus LX450d begins to make a compelling case to those in the market for such things.