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Lexus LX500d Review: The Most Dependable Luxury 4×4 in the World?

Some chest-thumping first—India Herald happens to be the only publication in India to have properly tested the Lexus LX500d off-road, that too without even putting a scratch on it. And “properly” here refers to testing it in unfamiliar, unpredictable, and continually changing real world conditions—which is what offroading is all about—as opposed to driving […]

Some chest-thumping first—India Herald happens to be the only publication in India to have properly tested the Lexus LX500d off-road, that too without even putting a scratch on it. And “properly” here refers to testing it in unfamiliar, unpredictable, and continually changing real world conditions—which is what offroading is all about—as opposed to driving on man-made tracks and “curated” obstacles. That said, please do not try this unless your offroading experience spans over a decade, at least; you’re not indifferent to differentials; you think highly of low-range transfercases, and you’re mostly hung up on suspensions...
Speaking of which, please note that the Lexus LX500d does NOT have “air suspension” as reported by almost every other auto journalist in India. It’s HYDRAULIC, which means it’s oil, not air, that’s responsible for lowering or raising the suspension on this vehicle. In fact, neither the A in AHC, nor the A in AVS, stands for “air”

—AHC expands to Active Height Control and AVS is Adaptive Variable Suspension. If a reviewer has his technical ABCs in place, he wouldn’t even have to look at the brochure to ascertain whether a vehicle has air or hydraulic suspension. The presence or absence of coil springs would itself be the biggest visual indicator.
With that out of the way, let’s discuss the regular review stuff now.
This Lexus is BIG. In fact, it’s so big that it makes Fortuners and Endeavours feel what Arnold Schwarzenegger might’ve felt standing next to Wilt Chamberlain.

Naturally then, even at its lowest suspension setting (L), most would use the footboard, along with the grab handle, to climb inside. However, once inside, even the shortest drivers won’t struggle with outward visibility, which is excellent. That said, I do wish the seat had at least an inch more vertical adjustment. Also, while the passenger seat is powered, the rear seat recline isn’t, which is disappointing. The seats themselves are obviously ery comfortable; it’s just that most others in this price range provide even more comfortable rear seats.

Feature-wise, you have everything you need, including a mini-fridge between the front seats that chills faster than your Kelvinator. You and your passengers would be chilling too as all four seats are cooled (and heated too, of course), and there’s four-zone climate control as well.

Moreover, while the cabin might not instantly enthrall you with its opulence (the lack of it, rather), you’ll soon realise that you’re appreciating the physical controls a lot more than the competition’s buried-in-touchsceen menu mazes. If you’re a keen driver, you’d also thank Lexus for giving proper analogue gauges for battery voltage, fuel level, coolant temperature, and engine-oil temperature. You’ll need these, and not jazzy instrument clusters, in Death Valley and Antartica.

You’d also need good performance to reach those places. I managed the mandatory 0–100 km/h run in 8.7 seconds, which is respectable for a vehicle of this size. But, you don’t buy such gargantuan SUVs for drag races. You buy them to cross continents comfortably, and this Lexus won’t disappoint! The ride quality is exceptional, despite those 22-inch wheels, and even the NVH levels are brilliant at cruising speeds. And it’s one of the most unstressed cruisers in the world—100 km/h in top gear comes at just 1,400 rpm!

This Lexus will exceed your expectations off the road too. It’s a permanent 4WD vehicle with low range, lockable center differential, and terrain modes. You’d seldom need the former two. Just push the MTS (Multi Terrain Select) button, rotate the mode selector knob and you’ll see five modes: Auto, Dirt, Sand, Mud, and Deep Snow. The ride height automatically increases to its first level (H1) in Auto and Dirt, and to its max (H2) in the other three where it just crawls up and down tricky slopes with zilch throttle input, making the DAC/Crawl Control feature question its existence. And you still haven’t locked the center diff or used 4L (which has Auto, Sand, Mud, and Rock modes), and you’re still on low-profile street tyres!

Lexus/Toyota have apparently said that while all offroad vehicles might take you anywhere in the world, it’s their LX/LC that will bring you back alive. After putting it to some extreme onroad and offroad testing, I’m convinced their statement is not off the line...

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