2018 LEXUS LX 450d Review and rating
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.
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. LEXUS glued on a pair of dusk-sensing “adaptive” auto High Beam LED headlights too. 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. You can stand on it by closing the upper hatch first. You’re so high up, you feel like you’re in orbit.
Built in roof rails will probably not see much use but they’re there if you want them.
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.
There are 7 tasty colour choices.
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. The analogue centre clock is typical of posh car makers and is a pleasant find on a dashboard full of digital readouts.
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. Even trying to input an address in to navigation means the driver has to stop. Annoying as it is, it means a driver won’t be distracted.
Seating for 5 (7 on LX570) is extremely comfortable. There is seat heating but no cooling on the base model. A nifty cool-box for drinks is concealed by the big centre armrest. It will keep a can of drink quite frosty.
Once seated, you realise just how high up you are. Despite the vast interior space, controls are within easy reach and are well designed. Rear passengers have a set of controls in the armrest for air conditioning.
Backlit buttons on the steering wheel for auxiliary controls are also well designed. They have a quality feel to them
The infotainment interface is a bit of a letdown. The sound is fabulous, but the controls are difficult.
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. The cursor is incredibly sensitive and ping-pongs all over the screen.
Any commands have to be input this way and at 100kph is more distracting than a mobile phone. CarPlay would go some way to assuaging these concerns, but the joystick is as bad as the trackpad in other LEXUS cars. In the bin with the pair of them.
Voice control is equally uncooperative, so don’t bother with it. Whereas CarPlay uses the interwebz to decode commands, on-board units such as the one in LEXUS uses its own operating system. That means you can only use a pre-set list of prompts. Anything else will get a curt “try again” from the lady in the dash board.
Equally annoying are her persistent warnings for such things as lights and school zones. “Oh bugger orf,” I frequently ejaculate.
The only way to get her to shut up is to completely turn off the voice for navigation.
Previously, you could have voice prompts for navigation without her incessant moanings . She will go off every few minutes if your area has a lot of schools, cameras, and black spots. You’ll turn it off completely negating any safety advantages you might have had.
There is voice input to control some functions. The only time it is handy is when you want to cancel a navigation. There is no “stop navigation” function otherwise, another system shortcoming.
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. There is still a shedload of timber trim. Timber trim got a bad wrap from the plakky imitations, but this is the real deal.
A 12.3” LCD screen sits at the top of the centre stack to the right of the analogue clock. Below is a substantial padded centre console. Climate controls, terrain and drive mode controls, electric parking brake, and the gear lever are clearly laid out. Luckily, there foot-operated parking brakes have been banished.
Unlike her Toyota sister, LX 450d has only 5 seats. LEXUS tells me it was part of the weight savings measures. If buyers want 7 seats, they’ll have to buy the petrol LX570 (or the Landcruiser).
You’d expect that to mean more room in the cargo hold, but it has only 400L worth of Myer bags when packed to the top of the rear seats. The cargo hold floor is quite high to accommodate the spare full size tyre which is accessed from underneath the vehicle. You don’t have to unpack the car to change a tyre. There spare tyre also pressure monitoring, along with all other wheels.
LEXUS raided the goodies bin to make sure the LX comes almost fully loaded.
For those of you who like a bit of leather in your life, the interior is glamorously clad in leather from a cow. There wasn’t quite enough to go around so they’ve shoved some genuine fake pleather in as well. I can’t tell the difference, and I defy you to too.
Adjustable hydraulic suspension can whisk the LX up in a flash. More importantly, it crouches automatically so no loafers are scuffed while getting out. The buttons sits over on the left side of the console.
Next to it are dials for those fab drive modes, including off-road programmes.
LEXUS LX 450d uses Toyota’s “crawl” system. It allows a car the size of a small moon to move the wheels and steering to lift itself gracefully out of the most appalling situations. There is no need to ruin your outfit digging on the mud.
There are great videos on the interwebz. One has some rather jazzy kazbah music as an LC200 lifts itself after being bogged to the axles in sand. Take a look:-
Climate Concierge is your personal comfort assistant.
It uses seat heating and cooling (if fitted), climate control, and steering wheel heating (if fitted), turning them on and off so every bum is kept at just the right temperature. There is no need of blankies, even on the longest trip.
The first time I used it, the LEXUS had the steering wheel and seat heating on, but only for a few minutes until the climate control got its act together.
LX retains the older style hydraulic steering and cannot accommodate automated steering. So, do not expect to find active lane control and self parking. You might have to actually drive the thing yourself.
Here are my favourite gadgets:
- Quad zone climate control
- Heated seats
- 3” LCD display
- DAB radio (no Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. SHAME Lexus, SHAME)
- Low/high range gearing with locking hubs
- Off-road drive programmes
- 5 on-road drive modes (1 customisable)
- Adjustable Hydraulic suspension
- Active radar cruise control
- Lane departure warning
- Blind spot monitor
- Wireless phone charger
- Towing-3,500 braked
Drive and Engine
I’m not normally excited by driving a 2,700kg brute around town. Full size SUVs are a handful in a Coles carpark, but fear not. It is no harder to park than a bus.
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. I preferred the personal settings provided by the Customise mode.
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.
Our drive took some utterly divine scenery in Queensland’s Gold Coast hinterland.
In tight mountain roads, LX 450d lurched rather alarmingly when pushed, but she stayed shiny side up, and oh-so-comfortable. Sport mode gave the 200kw engine extra perk, but it is the 650Nm of torque that pulls up hills.
The bottomless pit of torque not only pulls you out of the poo, but you can easily tow Tigger, your polo pony.
LX might feel quick at the lights, but the poor dear runs out of puff. It is a cruiser not a bruiser, and on the open road is sublime. Brimming the 93L tank would set you back a princely $140, but you’d 1,000km from it.
I was slightly disappointed to find only 6 cogs on the auto-shifter. Other LEXUS cars get 8 and 10 speed jobs.
As we drifted through the countryside, gentle bands gave way to stunning vistas off to the coast beyond.
We arrived at Mount Tamborine, and the picturesque Curtis Falls.
We left the LEXUS secured in the car park, donned our sneakers, and set off on a few hours trek. The barely-navigable track went ever downwards, nd around, and around. After many, many steps much falling water could be heard.
The falls sit just below the road we had come in to town on, so although you can hear them from above, you can’t see them until you’ve beaten that track.
After an hour’s walk, we stood not far from the water’s edge, where a Mazda SUV had gone off the road and down the cliff some 30 metres. Although no one was injured, the precarious perch unsettled my nerves.
I quickly lost my urge to bush-bash in the LEXUS.
About the AWD system:
Unusually, the LEXUS is AWD (all-wheel-drive). Normally, off-roaders drive the rear or front wheels most of the time. When challenging terrains beckons, the driver actives all-wheel drive. This mode can’t be used on tarmac.
This differs from normal AWD cars that employ a different system which shuffles power as needed. AWD such as that in Subaru, Audi, and BMW cars are is designed for on-road driving and lack the low-range gear selections.
Parking is easier than one might think. The cameras give an excellent view all round.
We managed a decent 11.5L/100k over highway, mountain, and city roads.
- 360° cameras
- Terrain monitoring sensors
- LEXUS Pre-collision system
- 10 airbags
- Full size spare (under vehicle)
- Blind Spot monitor
- ANCAP Star Rating- not tested
- 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 dead posh as you waft along in the rarefied, wasp-breaths of air emanating from the vents. There is no road sound except for the occasional distant bump gently letting you know you’ve run over a kerb. If pressed hard, the V8 gently throbs up front in a satisfying kind of way.
Remember, all LEXUS cars sold in Australia are made in Japan, so you have that brilliant build quality.
Last month, the petrol LX570 sold 17 and the 450d sold just 7. Year to date, 335 LX cars found homes with only 115 being diesel.
It’s worth noting the LX570 has more gear in it, and you can add a $16,000 options pack for extra stuff. Either LEXUS buyers like as much luxury as they can get, or they hate the smell of diesel on their fingers. Let’s see how the figures are next year with a full year of sales.
After a week, I wondered whether the $146,217 (drive away NSW) base model LEXUS LX was really worth more than the $123,972 (drive away) Land Cruiser Sahara.
To help you answer that poser, here are a few things the LX 450d gets over the Landcruiser:
- 5 seats only (LC200 gets 7)
- 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)
In the end, despite the slightly questionable styling cues, LX 450d was definitely worth the extra doh. Despite the smaller fuel tank, LX 450d will go further than her petrol sister too.
Very few other luxury SUVs are true 4WD off-roaders. Bentley, Audi and BMW give you AWD, but lack low range. Range Rover and Mercedes G Wagon are the exceptions, but cost many more shekels. Imagine you’ve decided to tow your uber-luxurious van into the wilds of Australia. You want to wake fresh as a daisy, have a shower, then breakfast by the billabong?
I picture myself towing this little number.
Lexus has a concierge service too. You get invitations to exclusive events, and a phone service to make dinner reservations for you. You can ask them to send directions to your navigation if you can’t manage the input yourself. I like that.
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
Author: Alan Zurvas