Lexus LX 450d review road test

They say you buy a Lexus when you silently want to announce to the world that you’ve arrived. But I believe that saying is too cliched. A car like Lexus can never go unnoticed. So when I was handed over the keys to the Lexus LX 450d, it was but a natural reaction that I don’t want to be driving around a Rs 3 crore car. Plus the mammoth proportions will not let me go unnoticed. Then my humble automobile journalist roots tell me that like the other vehicles I have either got home or have been seen driving around, people will assume (rightly) that it’s all a part of my job. Plus I took the LX 450d to attend two weddings. How inconspicuous can one get, eh?

Lexus LX 450d design

Lexus LX 450d

Lexus LX 450d

Lexus LX 450d

Ageless can define this design. After all, the brick design has never faded and we see some or the other car maker using it time and again. However, if you know history of vehicles, then this design of the Lexus LX 450d is shared with that of the Land Cruiser 200. It is the same vehicle underneath as well. Changes include the bold spindle grille with the big Lexus logo, the all-LED headlights, boomerang-shaped fog lights as well as the tail lamps are the give away that something has changed. The headlamps have their own washers too.  The 18-inch alloys look really simple though. A split tail gate is a useful thing especially if all you have to do is put in a few light bags. In the sense, you don’t have to wait for the long pause of the powered unit to open or close.

Lexus LX 450d  cabin

The Lexus LX 450d has a cabin swathed in leather. However, before getting into the SUV, if you are intimated with the 250mm thereabouts ride height, worry not. A button next to the steering wheel helps lower the vehicle when one is getting in or out. This function is indicated by a green icon of a man sitting on a seat. So every time, one has to climb into the vehicle, if the icon is on, the vehicle will lower itself. Even the driver’s seat will push itself back to the maximum position to help ingress and egress. Speaking of which, the front seats are powered and have memory function too. They even have heating, cooling and massaging functions as well. Cool, eh?

Lexus LX 450d

Once seated in the Lexus, you notice a plethora of buttons, some self explanatory while the others I understood from Youtube videos. There is a button to adjust the head-up display, separate button for your headlight washers (very cool, I must add) and a lot of other stuff. The ambient lighting in the cabin can be adjusted via a single touch operation soft button on the roof. Lexus also provides for a sunroof but its not panoramic. The only non-intimidating part is the meter cluster which is as simple as things get. None of the digital fancy thing there. It is all analogue. Heck, this one even displays the oil temperature, engine temperature as well as the battery charge level. So Lexus has got you covered on all grounds.

Lexus LX 450d

I had heard a lot about the Mark and Levinson 19-speaker audio system. A 12-inch screen in the centre console is your visual aid. It is NOT a touchscreen unit and is operated through a sensitive joystick pad. This is something that Lexus could change. On the move, it is difficult to select a certain parameter. Agreed, the thick multifunction steering wheel will do the job most of the times but still the joystick is inconvenient. I was also disappointed with the audio system. When paired to my phone’s Bluetooth (no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto capability dialed in), even at a volume of 40, the system sounded feeble. “Something seems to be off with this one and we need to have it checked” was Lexus’ response. In fact, I even know that the maximum volume you can set the system for will be 63.

Lexus LX 450d

Lexus LX 450d

The rear seats of the Lexus LX 450d will be one spot which will be graced by film stars or your local MP. Accordingly, the seats too have a powered function along with ventilation. By the way, in India, one can order the Lexus LX 450d with only five seats. Beats logic but if you want a 7-seater, you got to choose the petrol LX 570. A huge arm rest in the centre of the rear seats in the LX 450d also double up as your music control as well as airconditioning set up.

A 4-zone climate control is at work here, you see. There are screens behind the front headrests, however I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to get them started. All being said, the seats are supremely comfortable and there is lot of leg, shoulder as well as headroom to boot for.

Having five seats has liberated a lot of boot space. Around 600 litres. There is also a power socket as well as an AC vent at the back. Guess, they forgot to remove the vent. There is also a luggage cover available. What’s tricky is opening the boot. It can only be accessed via a button in the cabin (can be deactivated too) and by the remote key. However, I found it to be very glitchy and sometimes, it will take ages to open up.

Lexus LX 450d

Lexus LX 450d

Other cabin goodies include all four auto up and down mirrors, dual sun visors for front passengers, auto headlights, wipers and a large cooled box in the middle. Needless to say, it works only when the airconditioning is on and does an exemplary job of cooling things. Lexus also provides a wireless charging pod. The Lexus LX 450d specifications available on the website does list out all the stuff available.

Lexus LX 450d engine and transmission

Like its massive appearance on the outside as well as inside, the engine bay too is huge. The Lexus LX 450d uses a 4.5-litre twin turbo V8 diesel engine. This one produces 270PS of power and a huge 650Nm of torque. Power is sent to all the four wheels through a 6-speed automatic transmission. The Lexus LX 450d claimed mileage is 9kmpl.

Lexus LX 450d

One thing you will notice when you fire up this motor is that it is super smooth. In fact, the insulation is so good that even at high speeds, you can barely feel the engine working. Fire her up in a closed garage and that’s when the V8 burble can be heard. Even then, it is quite muted. Kudos to Lexus on that front. There are multiple modes to select from – Eco, Normal, Comfort, Sport and Sport+. All these are self explanatory and Eco does dull the engine response to a great extent. However, the gains in fuel economy aren’t commensurate with the loss of power. I noticed a minor 0.2kmpl rise in economy over a 70km range. Sport and especially Sport+ ensure that shifts happen towards the red line.

The LX 450d has a meaty mid-range and the best part is that it likes to cruise all day long. There is cruise control on offer as well. I can imagine the sight of other road users when they see an near three tonne vehicle hurtling towards them. One can also manually row the gears on the Lexus using the triptronic function or by the paddle shifters.

We tanked up the 93-litre fuel tank with the premium Indizel fuel. This enabled us for a saving of nearly Rs 190 over what we would have spent on regular or diesel with add-ons. After all, Indizel is Rs 2 more affordable than your regular diesel. It has more cetane content which helps in efficient burning of the fuel and hence lower emissions in the process. What’s more, it decreases the NVH as well as increases the fuel efficiency. Did we mention it is BS-VI compliant as well? The overall efficiency we got with regular fuel was 6.7kmpl and with Indizel, it stayed pretty much the same this time. In other cases, we have noticed a slight increase in the efficiency though.

 

Lexus LX 450d ride and handling

It is a ladder frame chassis and has been designed to take abuse. However, I will get to all of that in a bit. First up, the driving position is very commanding and on a few occasions, I was on eye level with some truck drivers as well. Add to it that one can increase the height of the vehicle using a switch as well. Lexus offers you a crawl function that is helpful in traffic conditions or in the mud. However, instead of it, I prefer having an auto hold function, something that Lexus doesn’t offer. Shocking, isn’t it?

The Lexus LX 450d I must say didn’t impress me as much as I though it will. For speeds above 100kmph, every other road imperfection will take the vehicle tramlining. I assume it to be an issue with this particular media-abused unit. Or the wheel alignment and balancing wasn’t done.

Lexus LX 450d

The steering of the LX 450d is a bit on the heavier side and you will notice more in the traffic conditions. This has been done so that you as a driver don’t forget the enormous real estate you’re dragging. Unless you do something stupid in corners like going at speeds above 100kmph, the Lexus is quite okay. You see, the higher ground clearance means handling is going to be affected. As it is, Lexus doesn’t want you to do drag races with this one. It is meant to be an effective cruiser and it stays that way.

Lexus LX 450d

The suspension is set on the stiffer end and if you’re alone in the SUV and prefer jumping speed breakers, a bit of caution will have to be exercised with this one. With a full load, the absorbing capabilities became a bit more relaxed but not to the tune of other luxury SUVs I have driven before.

Lexus LX 450d

Off-roading is something I couldn’t do with the LX 450d. Perhaps the thought of getting a Rs 3 crore bill was the deterrent. However, as can be safely assumed with a ladder frame chassis and the legendary abilities of the Toyota Land Cruiser 200, off-road should be a piece of cake for the LX.

Safety features of the Lexus LX 450d

Lexus LX 450d

For starters, there are 10 airbags to contend with. Wow! I don’t remember sitting in a car that has had more than eight ever before. Then a host of safety technologies that you usually find in cars of this size are also available. These include ABS with EBD, Brake Assist, traction control, stability assist as well as many more. A full 5-star rating by GNCAP is also proof that this Lexus is a safe vehicle.

Final words on the Lexus LX 450d

The Lexus LX 450d review was a whole different experience for me. I got to live with the SUV for nearly a week. However, it is a bit cumbersome to drive around, find parking spots and most of all, save it from scratches and dings. There is road presence for sure and in spades, however it isn’t enough to deter those pesky autowallas and the bikers. They know that this is expensive and if they end up hitting or scratching the vehicle somewhere, the Lexus owner will be at a bigger loss.  This was also the least fuel efficient diesel vehicle that I have ever tested.

Lexus LX 450d

The good thing is the comfort that the Lexus LX 450d accords as well as the luggage carrying capability. Did I mention about the road presence? The two marriages that I attended, took away some sheen from the married couple for sure (*winks). However, I am sure the same could have been achieved in the much more ‘affordable’ Toyota LC 200. The Lexus LX 450d price in India is Rs 2.32 crore, ex-showroom pan India. You book the car today and you will get delivery in a couple of months.

Don’t German and Britian products give you the same commanding presence and at a much lower price? Sure the Lexus LX 450d competition in India includes the Ranger Rover Autobiography as well as the Mercedes-Benz GLS. However, the Japanese reliability of the LX 450d is something they will never be able to match. This is the price that you pay for reliability. That alone should see the LX ward off all the competition in the race to reach the rich boffin’s cheque book.

Things we love about the Lexus LX 450d

Commanding road presence, space for passenger and luggage, off-road ability

Things we don’t love about the Lexus LX 450d

Mighty expensive, few essential features missing and low fuel efficiency

Trivia

The Lexus LX 450d is available at the same price as the 570. The only difference is that one is a 5-seater and diesel while the other one is a petrol and seven seater.

Images by Donald Dsouza

 

 

 

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