ROAD TEST: Lexus LX450d has power to (oil) burn
GOOD things come to those who wait. For prospective Lexus buyers wanting a diesel in the hulking LX off-roader, they've been patient for two decades.
The ultra-plush version of Toyota's LandCruiser 200 Series has arrived.
Priced from about $146,000 drive-away, the LX450D virtually makes its V8 petrol-powered sibling redundant. This new hulking offering has improved performance and dramatically better fuel consumption for $8600 less than the LX570.
Yet the $14,200 differential question is, how much better is the LX450D compared to a top-shelf 200 Series Sahara?
Typically lavish from the moment you open the door, the Toyota link can be seen externally but not from within.
Cosseting leather-clad pews welcome occupants in both rows, four-zone aircon, complemented by a monster central 12.3-inch high-definition screen that is equipped with satnav and linked to a nine-speaker sound system that has digital radio and full Bluetooth connectivity.
Like all Lexus and Toyota vehicles, there's no smartphone mirroring apps Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, which is a shame given the system's clunky mouse-style controller. Lexus has similar systems across its range, which are not as precise as the German equivalents.
The mouse can be difficult to use on the move, while entering a sat nav destination must be done while stationary.
Due to the increased weight of the diesel donk, some luxuries have been removed. Compared to the petrol version, the sunroof, Mark Levinson audio, DVD screens on the headrests and the third row of seats have been deleted.
You do get some nice extras, like a wireless phone charger, cool box and rear-door sunshades.
It's available in seven exterior colours, as well as two leather-accented interior choices.
ON THE ROAD
Hit the start button and there's a fine engine note. This is a cracking engine - just take a look at any caravan park around the nation to see how the grey nomads love this 4.5-litre twin-turbo diesel V8 engine.
Lexus, as you would expect, has taken ride comfort and noise suppression to the next level. Yet the confident, burly engine soundtrack remains - a rarity for the luxury Japanese marque.
There were plaudits aplenty from the family for the smooth and cushy ride, which is wallowy in comparison to the Europeans but testament to its off-road ability.
This is no faux SUV. The LX450D is a genuine four-wheel drive able to cope with the toughest of conditions. You'd have to option something more suitable than the low-profile 20-inch rubber for off-roading but with 200kW of power and a hefty 650Nm of torque from 1600rpm, it rarely has to work hard.
Despite its size the wagon handles well with light steering, which eases the stress levels in tight carparks.
The wood-grain-finished steering wheel has gear shifting paddles for manual-style control but the six-speed auto does a solid job left to its own devices, while there is switchgear on the console that enables changes between comfort, normal and sport suspension settings. It's also equipped with controls to make off-roading easier.
Those in for the long haul can get about 1000km from the 93-litre tank (the petrol version gets 138L), which should deliver close to the official average of 9.5 litres/100km. We managed just under 11 with a combination of highway and around-town travels.
Coming standard is the Lexus Safety System, which encompasses radar active cruise control that maintains a safe distance from vehicles ahead, lane departure warning and an automatic high-beam system, head-up display that projects a digital view of the speedo at the base of the windscreen, blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert.
Especially handy in carparks is the front and rear parking sensors, along with the 360-degree-view monitor.
Thankfully the diesel has finally arrived, the petrol V8 was far too thirsty.
Feeling lavish and expensive, at least from the inside, it's a reasonable step up from a 'Cruiser for the coin.
MERCEDES-BENZ GLS 350D FROM $117,290
The biggest within the Mercedes family, it can't match the Lexus for off-road or towing ability but it's another echelon in terms of internal modern luxury.
RANGE ROVER 3.0 VOGUE FROM $190,000
Would you dare go off-road? It's far too beautiful. Better suited to the country club despite its off-road ability.
AT A GLANCE
PRICE $146,000 drive-away (expensive)
SERVICE/WARRANTY $3112 over 3 years, 4 year/100,000km w'ty (OK)
ENGINE 4.5-litre V8 twin-turbo diesel, 200kW/650Nm (super strong)
SAFETY 5 stars, 10 airbags, AEB with pedestrian detection, blind zone alert, lane wander warning, 360-degree camera, front and rear sensors (good)
THIRST 9.5L/100km (about 10.8 on test)
SPARE Full-size (brilliant)
BOOT 1085L-1962L, towing 3500kg (impressive)