2023 Lexus LX 500d review, road test - please move over
So you're in the big league and a big luxury SUV is just the right accessory to stamp your authority wherever you go. But you also don't want to see the hardened image that's got you so far be diluted by the usual crop of soft-edged SUVs. Only a true ladder-frame 4x4 is what'll do. But you also want exclusivity and a desirable badge. Maybe this new fourth-gen Lexus LX, the first full model change in 14 years, is what the doctor ordered.
2023 Lexus LX 500d styling, dimensions
You will also want some presence, and the Lexus LX has you covered, to put it mildly. At 5,100mm long and 1,990mm wide it's right in the mix with the biggest top-tier SUVs but towers over everything else on the road with its off-road focused air suspension and body-on-frame construction. The Lexus LX now has 25mm wider front and rear tracks, is 10mm wider and 15mm lower so the proportions have been tweaked to become more like monocoque SUVs, but the effect is hardly apparent, in a good way.
What you will notice first though is the face. The Lexus spindle grille has grown larger still but has been refined further with simplified horizontal slats. Although the swathes of brushed silver keep the LX's shouty look intact. This more open look is repeated with the large air dams in the bumper. There's functionality to this, the larger openings are meant to better cool the new downsized powertrains. Higher up the LED headlamps are typically Lexus with their intricate detailing and shape. The twin-domed bonnet, shared with the similar Land Cruiser 300, gels quite well with this.
You see more similarities with the Toyota in profile, although the two SUVs remain fairly unique in their look. The A-pillar has now been pushed back further, while the wheelbase remains intact at 2,850mm, which despite the large swathes of metal and glass gives the LX a streamlined look. The glass house is in keeping with the LX's functional theme, it's large and runs quite low with the angular rear quarter glass melding well with the simple body panels. But the highlight here is the 22-inch alloys, the largest ever fitted to a Lexus. They are just blingy enough, although you get a good sense of the sheer scale of the LX given that these still don't fully cover the wheel wells.
The rear will again scream attention. The windscreen is at a slightly greater angle but still functional, the flash coming from the rounded bodywork and the new full-width Lexus lighting signature. It's one of the more distinct ones around with its split design, and if that wasn't enough, the large Lexus lettering will hold you in good stead.
2023 Lexus LX 500d interior, space, features
The Lexus LX's air suspension does lower itself for easier access but it's still quite the trek up to the front seats, the footboards and pillar grips being genuinely useful additions. This gives you the sense of quite a traditional 4x4. Once inside though, you are faced with a cabin that doesn't quite fit this judgement. It's almost intimidating at first, the sheer number of screens and buttons you are faced with. But Lexus says its cabins are designed with a philosophy centred around easy usage, and there seems to be some truth to this. There are no less than four screens you can control but instead of this becoming convoluted, the clear demarcation of functions between them makes life quite easy.
There's a 10-inch HUD that shows limited information but shows it clearly. The 7-inch instrumentation is similarly functional. There are no flashy graphics or changing layouts, which can seem a bit plain. But most of the information that you need is easily accessed and presented. A fitting touch is the analogue dials for the battery voltage, engine and water temperature. It just seems to drive home that tough sense that you get from this all the more.
The big floating screen is a 12.3-inch touchscreen that controls navigation, audio and phone-related functions. This one is shared with other Lexus and Toyota models and makes for crisp usage. It's a bit of a reach but clear menus guide you through most functions, that said we would have liked this interface to have matched with the other screens, a nitpick that's justified at this price point. The smaller screen below this is the most unusual one, it's just meant to manage the car's functions like the climate control and the drive modes. It gives you a great overview of these and provides touch redundancies to make life just that bit easier. The climate concierge function, gimmicky name aside, deserves a mention. Its climate control taken a step further, where the Lexus will also automatically adjust the cooling or heating of the seats and steering wheel to quickly make the cabin comfortable. It's something that should be quite handy come summer.
In a refreshing departure from current trends, there are also hard physical buttons for most functions. Like the screens, they aren't as well finished as you would expect at this price but they have that typically Lexus-Toyota hard-wearing tactility to them that is almost as reassuring, especially the dials for the terrain modes. That said, there are again some discrepancies here. You notice that the buttons in the lower reaches of the cabin don't feel quite as nice, and seem to be lifted off lesser Toyotas.
But your attention is diverted quickly enough to the generally top-tier materials and finishes in the cabin. The design of the dash, like the outside, is a balance of functional restraint and flashiness. Except for the centre stack with its lashings of gloss black, wood veneer and silver, its generally simple horizontal shapes, all of which are soft to the touch and fitted with the sense of robustness that seems like it'll last decades. But in what is becoming a theme, there are some plasticky bits in the door handles and wood trims.
The Lexus LX is high on practicality too. As is common with most ladder-frame SUVs, the front door pockets aren't all that large, suitable only for smaller bottles. But the rest of the cabin makes up for it. The ones in the centre console are large enough to hold 1l bottle while the deep central bin opens three ways, accessible to all passengers, and is even cooled. There's also a large wireless charging pad that's well-placed and complements the Android Auto/Apple Carplay(wireless) and both Type A and C chargers.
A fittingly long list of features pairs with this. Highlights include headlamps washers, soft-close doors, powered steering adjustment, 10-way driver and 8-way front passenger seat adjustment and a stunning 25-speaker Mark Levinson sound system.
But, if you are shopping for something like the LX, the rear seats will be of most interest to you. It's again a trek to get up here, and the LX can only be had as a five-seater with a rear bench in India. The plush captain chair version would have been a logical option for our market. With the wheelbase remaining unchanged despite the shift to a new architecture, Lexus has scooped out the front seats to free up more room here. That said, the limitations of a body-on-frame construction hold the LX back in certain aspects. There's great legroom, but the high floor eats into thigh support. There's no panoramic sunroof but this does mean you have quite a bit of headroom. The bench too is wide enough for three, although its flat contours can have you sliding around a bit. That said, the backrest is well-judged. It's high and supportive and offers a generous degree of recline.
The amenities on offer enhance the experience further. You get two screens here that offer all kinds of media support, including HDMI. There are headphone jacks too. Aside from this, you get separate climate zones for the back and heated and cooling functions.
2023 Lexus LX 500d driving impressions
With this generation of the LX, you still absolutely tower over everything else on the road, so visibility is great and that sense of authority happens to be more or less intact. The view out is further helped by the deep channel in the bonnet made by the two bulges while the A-pillars are slim and the windows large and low. Lexus says it's worked on creating a more car-like driving experience which comes from the more upright steering position. The steering itself is now an electronically assisted one.
More changes come in the way of the new downsized powertrains also shared with the Land Cruiser. India only gets the diesel, a new 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6 down from the earlier 4.5-litre turbo V8. But fret not, a whole host of changes have improved performance. There's now a sizeable 309PS and 700 Nm.
Despite the smaller displacement, this is still an engine that's typical of what you might find in a tough 4x4. It's quite clattery inside the cabin and revs somewhat lazily to only a 4,500 rpm redline. But this is deceptive. All the latest tricks used and the twin-turbo setup means you are gathering steam rapidly pretty much as soon as you set off. As the 0 to 100 kmph time of 7.9s suggests, you'll be keeping up with much smaller and lighter luxury SUVs easily. There's also quite a noticeable step up in that authoritative surge of diesel torque just below 3,000 rpm so any overtakes even at high speeds aren't an issue.
The new 10-speed automatic also does its bit to make for a seamless experience. You won't find it second-guessing its shifts and the changes are quick enough in regular driving to not get in the way. The gearbox usually keeps you well within the wide powerband in most situations so you constantly have a gush of added torque at hand. Only heavier dabs of the throttle bring out the usual torque converter slurs but even this is kept under good control. You have quite a few drive modes going right up to sport plus mode but the LX has no real sporting ambitions.
Unlike the last LX, downsizing and the better thought-out gear ratios mean you still can expect around 10 kmpl on the highway with the engine spinning away at around 1,600 rpm at 100 kmph.
The new TNGA-F architecture has also helped the Lexus LX become an easier SUV to live with daily. It's 20 per cent more rigid than before but is 200 kg lighter. This has helped efficiency and driving dynamics, aided by the redesigned suspension components and air springs.
The electronic power steering allows the LX to hide its weight and size well in traffic or while parking. It's got some heft to it but never as much to feel like a chore. As you would expect it's not the most precise-feeling wheel but you are never caught out by the LX's reactions to steering inputs.
Sticking to its tough 4x4 lineage, the new suspension in the LX still has a rigid-axle construction in the rear. So like traditional ladder-frame SUVs, it still jiggles and shudders over broken roads at slow speeds and can feel nervous over uneven surfaces on highways. You feel some of this but again it never gets too uncomfortable. As speeds rise, the LX starts to feel its best. It'll dismiss bad patches like they don't exist, to the extent that you forget it's running 22-inch wheels and that solid, indestructive feel that is so appealing comes through. The air suspension also rides 23mm lower than before to aid this.
As you would expect, there is a fair amount of roll especially if you take corners quicker than the LX likes although pitch and dive are well controlled relatively(25 per cent better than before) with the air suspension. Keep speeds in check, however, and the LX will take on a nice rhythm on a winding road. Braking is great too for the massive 3.2-tonne weight and size.
2023 Lexus LX 500d offroading, safety
The Lexus LX is still one of the more capable SUVs you can buy when the going gets rough, although we don't think you'll be too adventurous in something this pricey. Either way, the 26? approach, 25? departure and 26?ramp-over angles have been retained from the previous versions. It also happens to run on all-terrain tyres.
As for off-roading hardware, you have the 4x4 system with the low-ratio transfer case as well as a central differential lock. There are quite a few terrain modes that alter the SUV's response and also raise or lower the ride height. Other electronic functions are the crawl control function, hill-descent control as well as the turn assist feature that use the brakes to tighten the LX's turning circle in rough situations.
The 360-degree camera also comes with a host of off-road focused views including one that lets you see under the SUV. This is also a great aide in traffic while other safety features are 10 airbags, TPMS, brake-by-wire and ESC. You get blind-spot monitoring but the lack of significant ADAS functions at this price point is a miss.
2023 Lexus LX 500d price, verdict
Priced at Rs 3.39 crore on-road, the Lexus LX goes up against some illustrious rivals. Most of these are lighter and based on monocoque architectures which makes them just that bit more refined to drive despite the significant gains that have been made with this LX. You can also get SUVs which feel plusher and more spacious inside. But what most don't give you is that sense of invincibility and dependability that the LX does so well. The Lexus feels like it'll outlast most of these SUVs and that plastered a smile on our face for as long as we drove it.
2023 Lexus LX 500d real-world performance, mileage
0 to 100 kmph - 7.9s
30 to 50 kmph - 1.5s
50 to 70 kmph - 1.9s
60 to 80 kmph - 2.0s
100 to 0 kmph - 45.4m, 4.4s
City - 5.4 kmpl
Highway - 9.7 kmpl
Overall - 6.4 kmpl
Images by Sumit Gaikwad
Watch the Lexus LX 500d video review below
Starts Rs 2.32 Crore