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FIRST DRIVE | Lexus LX rides high on go-anywhere luxury

The Lexus LX 600 F Sport gets a black iteration of the big spindle grille. The diesel gets the chrome version.
The Lexus LX 600 F Sport gets a black iteration of the big spindle grille. The diesel gets the chrome version.
Image: SUPPLIED

Lexus launched the first-generation LX 450 in 1996 as the company’s first SUV offering, and its largest and most expensive. Chief rivals include the Range Rover and the big Lexus offers the company’s renowned refinement and off-road strengths borrowed from its Toyota Land Cruiser 200 cousin.

The fourth-generation model has been launched in South Africa. It comes with five big-grilled models in four-, five- or seven-seat configurations and two engines: LX 600 with a twin turbo 3.5l V6 petrol developing 305kW and 650Nm and the LX 500d powered by a twin turbodiesel V6 with 225kW and 700Nm on tap. Both engines are paired to 10-speed automatic transmissions.

Equipment levels inside the spacious cabins with high quality trimmings are plentiful. There’s a digitalised media and driver interface of colourful and touch-operated 12.3-inch and 7.0-inch displays. Also included is a head-up display, heated steering wheel, paddle shifts, electrically operated seats with heating and cooling, a wireless smartphone charger and, optionally, a cooled centre console box.

The large cabin of the new Lexus LX is digital, spacious and has a commanding position.
The large cabin of the new Lexus LX is digital, spacious and has a commanding position.
Image: SUPPLIED

There is also voice control for artificial intelligence assistance, digital radio, satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and fingerprint identification for the ignition. Second-row passengers can recline their seats which have arm rests, heating and ventilation. Two USB-C ports, plus a 12V DC power outlet are also available.

If the seven-seater is selected, which is available in LX 600 guise only, the rearmost space should accommodate two adults with a walk-in function that automatically moves the front seat and tumbles the second row seat for easy access. The rearmost seats also recline and USB-C ports and drinks holders are provided, as is a small storage compartment.

Five-seater LX 600 VIP models are more opulent thanks to an independent captain’s seat and a seven-stage massage function, 860mm of legroom and a 48° recline with an independently adjustable ottoman with two-position memory. Twin 11.6-inch rear displays with HDMI or Wi-Fi compatibility can also be had in the rear. 

New 22-inch forged aluminium wheels are the largest-ever sizing for a Lexus.
New 22-inch forged aluminium wheels are the largest-ever sizing for a Lexus.
Image: SUPPLIED

Safety and driver convenience is provided by the latest technologies, including pre-collision system with pedestrian and daytime cyclist detection, blind-spot monitor, adaptive cruise control, emergency steering assist, a new intersection turn assist, lane tracing and a tyre pressure monitor. A new multi-terrain monitor, especially useful in off-road situations, offers various camera image angles.

The first drive delivered a cushy experience in a vehicle that is 20% more rigid and 200kg lighter than its predecessor. The petrol engine gives it linear, spirited acceleration. I didn’t get to drive the diesel LX 500d.

A full-time all-wheel drive system offers better poise in the corners, while standard rear and centre differential locks and height-adjustable air suspension with 18mm increased ground clearance add to the off-road prowess. 

Pricing

Lexus LX 500d — R2,507,600

Lexus LX 500d F Sport — R2,517,500

Lexus LX 600 F Sport — R2,553,600

Lexus LX 600 — R2,568,700

Lexus LX 600 VIP — R2,986,000


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