Finally, after all these years Lexus has delivered a diesel.
At each update someone in the press corps has always popped the question?
But the answer has always been the same: diesel isn’t a good fit for the brand. It isn’t smooth or refined enough to meet customer expectations.
That was then — this is apparently now.
Because Lexus reveals there has been consistent demand for a diesel in the large 4×4 LX range (hello) and has moved to satisfy this pent-up demand.
But we can’t help wonder whether the diesel’s arrival is a little late, perhaps too little too late, with the growing trend to smaller, softer more urban friendly SUVs?
Are these gentle giants of the bush like the LX and donor Land Cruiser still relevant in the current environment?
Toyota still sells plenty of the 200 Series, but not so many of the Lexus LX.
They’re sought out for their towing ability mainly, for horse floats and the like — for just carting the the tribe around there are better alternatives.
What’s it cost?
The five-seat LX 450d is priced from $134,129 before on-road costs.
That’s $14,200 more than the top of the line Land Cruiser Sahara and $8660 less than the LX 570 with a petrol V8.
All things being equal, the LX appears to be a relatively good deal, but at the same time it looks like Lexus has taken spec out of the car to get it down to that price.
For starters what happened to the DVD screens for the kids in the back and where for that matter is the Mark Levinson audio system normally found in Lexus vehicles?
That’s not to say the LX 450d isn’t cushy, it’s just not quite as hospitable as its petrol stablemate.
Given both the LX and Land Cruiser share the same diesel, the Land Cruiser is worth a look too.
For our money the styling is cleaner and simpler, and it’s even better off road with more ground clearance.
Don’t worry it’s got plenty of cachet.
The ginormous “spindle” grille grafted to the front of the LX looks somewhat awkward and out of place in comparison.
The big Lexus has no shortage of standard equipment, however, with leather and four-zone climate air, heated front seats, with a large cooled console box, front and rear park sensors, a reverse camera, 360 degree monitor, wireless phone charger, and rear-door sunshades, with an absolutely massive 12.3-inch computer screen.
The three-spoke steering wheel has a leather and shimamoku-woodgrain rim.
LX is available in seven colours in combination with two leather-accented interiors.
It rides on massive 20-inch alloys with 285/50 series rubber, with tyre-pressure warning, LED headlights, daytime running lights and sequential turn signals.
Off-road technology includes multi-terrain anti-skid brakes, crawl control and four-camera multi-terrain monitor with back guide and panoramic view.
There’s five-mode drive mode select, variable gear-ratio steering, adaptive variable suspension, easy access and active height control.
It also gets 10 airbags and the Lexus Safety System + (PCS, radar active cruise control, lane departure warning and adaptive high-beam system), with head-up display, blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert.
The nine-speaker “premium” audio system is seven channel, with digital sound processing, DAB+ tuner and Bluetooth.
What’s it go like?
It’s big, heavy and cumbersome around town, and you’ll need to watch it when it comes to carpark ramps and the McDonalds drive-thru, because there’s not much room to spare.
Out on the open road it’s a completely different story, where the big 4×4 laps up the kilometres, with a range of 1000km and a high driving position with large windows all around that make it a great choice for long hops.
The 4.5-litre twin turbo V8 diesel delivers 200kW of power at 3600rpm and 650Nm of torque from a low 1600 to 2800 revs.
Power is fed to all four wheels via a 6-speed auto, with a full-time four wheel drive system.
Interestingly, the petrol V8 is paired with an 8-speed tranny.
Noisy on the outside the diesel is fairly well insulated from the cabin, but there’s still some vibration and harshness evident that you don’t get with the petrol model.
Gear changes are smooth and pre-emptive, with steering that belies its size.
The ride is cushioned by adaptive variable suspension that automatically raises or lowers the car as the situation demands.
There’s also different drive modes and an adjustable crawl mode for extreme offroad driving, and if you like getting off the beaten track, the LX/Landcruiser has few peers.
We were a bit worried about the side steps bottoming out off road, but our fears were groundless.
Pump up the suspension and not much craft is required to finding a safe route over rocky terrain.
But the primary reason most people buy these vehicles is to tow a horse float or similar. Like its petrol sibling, the LX 450d can comfortably tow 3.5 tones.
Apart from the limitations of its size, the thing we didn’t like most about the car was the complexity of the dashboard, with a staggering number of witches and buttons, or the fussy track pad that’s used for accessing various functions.
Find the button that does what you want and make sure you make a note of it, because there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to spot it again.
For context we took the petrol model on a road trip from Sydney to Byron Bay a few year back and it was all good, apart from the fuel consumption that ran to 13.2L/100km over 2000km.
In contrast, the diesel is good for 9.5L/100km, at least that’s the stated claim, because it still seems to like a drink, remembering this thing is as big as a truck and weighs close to three tonnes.
We were getting 13.8L with the computer showing a best of 11.5L/100km.
What we like?
Big, robust and powerful
Tows 3.5 tonnes
What we don’t like?
Not city friendly
Difficult to get in and out
Bit old school in some respects with analogue instrumentation
Ordinary four-year warranty
The bottom line?
If you need a large 4WD for towing and like your creature comforts, look no further. But the LX lacks some of the technical wizardry that can be found in say the Range Rover.