In some parts of the world, diesel is now on the nose. European policymakers played a major role in popularising the fuel, but the relationship has turned like a Shane Warne leg break. EU legislators have initiated the process of taking oil burners off the menu.
Despite changing laws and tastes, diesel power remains the most economical way to move big rigs around.
Family rigs don’t come much bigger than the 2018 Lexus LX range. In an effort to differentiate the LX from competitors, the Japanese luxury marque has preferred to power the hulking, go-anywhere SUV with a 5.7-litre naturally-aspirated V8 petrol engine.
Earlier this year, we were fortunate enough to drive the petrol powered LX570, it’s a lovely powerplant befitting a premium purchase, but (there is always a but), economy is always going to be the Achilles' heel of a large petrol engine powering a large petrol car.
Many would be quick to point out, if you could afford a car of that type, the running costs shouldn’t present a concern. In some cases, this may be accurate, however, in our experience, those in a position to buy a luxury SUV tend to carefully consider more than just the upfront expenditure. On top of this, Lexus buyers are a sensible breed making diesel power a must.
To cater for those with common sense, the 2018 Lexus LX450d plugs a gap in the range and lowers the price of entry to the LX range to $134,500 plus on-road costs.
In typical Lexus style, the new LX is well stocked, unlike other premium brands, there is no need to forensically analyse an options list in order to achieve the perfect level of specification. The only thing to consider is colour.
Standard equipment includes 20-inch alloy wheels, tyre-pressure monitoring, LED headlamps and daytime running lights, multi-terrain anti-skid brakes, crawl control and a surround camera system.
Other equipment highlights include leather trim, heated front seats, a 12.3-inch infotainment screen, satellite navigation, four-zone climate control, a nine-speaker audio system, DAB+ radio, wireless phone charger and rear-door sunshades.
ANCAP is yet to test the LX, however, it is loaded with safety tech. The Lexus Safety System+ is standard and includes autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, radar cruise control, lane departure warning, adaptive high-beams, head-up display, blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert and 10 airbags.
The now familiar Lexus spindle grille tries hard to disguise the LX’s resemblance to its Toyota cousin. The LandCruiser influence is strong with this one. Other than the strategic splashes of bling, there is little differentiating the LX from the Toyota.
Family connections disappear when you climb aboard. The interior of the LX is generations ahead of the Toyota. Lexus consistently delivers quality cabins and the LX is true to form. There’s a classy feel with premium materials dressing the majority of interior surfaces.
The only exception is the steering wheel, the combination of wood and leather is annoying. The lacquered wood section detracts from the soft leather’s lovely tactile experience. Just wrap the whole thing in premium leather and call it a day.
Where Lexus comes back to the field is infotainment. The 12.3-inch screen provides sharp, hi-resolution graphics with a comprehensive array of functions (it’s only missing smartphone mirroring), however, the system remains fiddly to use. For a brand with so many resources at its disposal, surely a better solution can be devised.
Space is where the LX will win some friends. Regardless of what seat you happen to occupy, leg and headroom are abundant. Those in the back on long trips will lament the absence of USB charging points, c’mon Lexus, it’s 2018!
While the petrol model can carry eight, the LX450d is strictly a five-seater, which opens up some additional room in the back. With the second-row in place, there’s a very usable 909L of cargo space. Usable is also a great descriptor for the horizontally split tailgate, it removes the need to take a chair when letting the dog roam.
Now to the engine, the oiler in question is the 4.5-litre twin-turbo V8 from the popular Toyota LandCruiser, it’s good for 200kW of power at 3600rpm and 650Nm of torque between 1600-2800rpm. It’s a well-proven unit that easily shifts the LX’s mass.
When the engine comes to life, it does so in such a subdued way. The old-school rattle that reminded drivers of agricultural origins of diesel is not present here.
For such a large car to feel as spritely as this is a miracle of modern engineering. There’s no noticeable lag from the turbos when the throttle is buried. The power goes down so easily it conceals the LX’s weight.
Putting said power down is a competent six-speed automatic, it’s two cogs short of the transmission found in the LX570.
In town, it’s easy to feel claustrophobic behind the wheel of a car of these proportions. The open road is where the LX showcases its pedigree. It’s a brilliant long-distance tourer that hums along delivering a level of refinement befitting a car of this price. Very little wind and tyre noise infiltrate the cabin which confirms the luxury vibe.
As with all Lexus models, the LX offers a drive mode selector, drivers can choose Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport, Sport+ and Custom. A vehicle of this size is never going to feel sporty regardless of the colour of the instrument cluster lighting. The LX is best left in Comfort mode.
Travelling the awful roads of country Victoria demonstrates how proficient the suspension calibration is. Lexus's adaptive variable suspension (AVS) does a remarkable job of adjusting the damper setting to match the driving situation. Minor road imperfections aren't noticeable and the suspension settles quickly after encountering sizable bumps. The whole set-up is as plush as Jay-Z’s lounge room.
While the overwhelming majority of LXs will never go off-road, the LX is supremely capable should the mood strike. The LX is packed with mechanical and electronic wizardry to conquer difficult terrain.
Particularly noteworthy is Lexus’s Active Height Control which can raise the car by 60mm should the conditions require more clearance. Combined with crawl control and the Multi-terrain Select system that allows drivers to customise the car to best suit the terrain, there are not many places the LX won't reach.
Chances are if you’re looking for an SUV of this type, you have something to pull and the LX450d is rated to tow 3500kg which will cover a sizable caravan.
Those wanting the LX to cover long distances should note there is only one 93-litre fuel tank. The sub tank found in the LX570 and related LandCruiser isn’t available here.
In terms of consumption, the diesel engine has fulfilled the brief, proving far more economical to run than the petrol variant. Our test week covered a smidgen over 1200 kilometres of mixed driving and returned a figure of 11.4L/100km. We couldn’t get any closer to the claimed 9.5L/100km.
Lexus backs the LX with a four-year/100,000km warranty and four-year roadside assistance coverage.
Service intervals are set at inconvenient intervals of six months/10,000km. In this day and age, there is no justification for such a short turn around. Lexus is yet to offer a capped-price service program, however, pricing is readily available from dealers. Indicative pricing for the first six scheduled services (exclusive of GST) are: six months/10,000km: complimentary; 12 months/20,000km: $535.56; 18 months/30,000km: $598.11; 24 months/40,000km: $800.32; 30 months/50,000km: $502.44; 36 months/60,000km: $676.23.
The LX450d is every bit the luxury SUV in terms of equipment, build quality and the driving experience. For those shopping for a large premium SUV, the LX450d is well worth a drive. Competitive pricing and a standard equipment list as long as a footballer’s sleeve tattoo puts the burly Lexus in the game. Rival models offering a similar level of specification will require a much larger cheque. The metal for money equation is very hard to toss, meaning the LX450d will appeal to those that make decisions with their head.
2018 Lexus LX450d Specifications
Price from $134,500 plus on-road costs Engine 4.5-litre V8 turbo-diesel Power 200kW @ 3600rpm Torque 650Nm @ 1600-2800rpm Transmission six-speed automatic Combined Fuel Consumption 9.5L/100km Tank Capacity 93L single tank only Length 5080mm Width 1980mm Height 1865mm Wheelbase 2850mm Kerb Weight 2740kg Ground Clearance 225mm Turning Circle 11.8m Wading Depth 700mm Service Intervals 6-months/10,000km Warranty four-year/100,000 kilometre
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