Japanese automakers are being very cautious these days. High production costs are softening sales across the board, and executives across the Pacific are frantically searching for ways to cut costs. Decontenting is one way to do this. Badge engineering is the other. Lexus chose the latter method when making the decision to offer a sport utility vehicle.
The Toyota Land Cruiser, legendary desert runner and jungle jumper, was donated to the Lexus team of plastic surgeons. They grafted a new grille, new headlamps, new alloy wheels, and bodyside cladding onto Toyota’s big SUV. Inside, they added leather and wood. Underneath the sheetmetal, suspension tuning was reworked to provide a better ride on the pavement. Standard equipment levels were raised to include automatic climate controls, rear seat heater, and an amazing 195-watt audio system powering seven loudspeakers. Topping things off, a LX450 badge was added to the tailgate.
The rest of Land Cruiser remains intact on the LX450. The familiar 4.5-liter inline six produces 212 horsepower and 275 lb-ft. of torque. Four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes are standard, and the LX450 can tow 5,000 pounds when properly equipped. All-wheel drive is permanently engaged, and an optional manual differential lock system provides outstanding traction, for the two LX450 owners who will actually go way off-road in truly lousy weather. Dual airbags and adjustable front seat belts come standard, as well as a handy first-aid kit.
You’ll pay a $7,000 premium over the Land Cruiser to get into a LX450, which is less than you’d spend optioning the Toyota up to Lexus standards. Factory options on the LX450 include a CD changer, moonroof, and differential locks. Incredibly, floor mats and wheel locks are optional. Talk about nickel-and-diming; these items should be included as standard equipment.
Land Rover sales have been skyrocketing, and luxury marques from the United States and Japan have definitely noticed. However, at $47,000, the only reason to purchase a LX450 is for status value, or to save a few thousand over the cost of a Range Rover 4.0 SE. Most luxury SUV intenders will find the value inherent in the GMC Yukon SLE, Chevy Suburban LT, and upcoming Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator twins more attractive than nice leather and wood inserted into a tough Toyota
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12 city / 14 hwy
212 hp @ 4600 rpm