The concept of penthouse prestigious living dates back to New York in the roaring twenties where heavy city construction meant for cramped spaces for the masses and the need for the elite to distinguish themselves. The building itself is often irrelevant as it’s more about the apartments location, design, view and luxurious fittings. The penthouse apartment is generally located at the top of the building although sometimes it’s at the bottom with a garage. All these things came to mind when I test drove the Lexus LX450d.
I guess there’s no way to get round this; it is big, in fact very big – certainly when it comes to its overall size or mass (as I’m told that it’s shorter than some European SUV’s), when you come upon this SUV you can’t help but think ‘big beastie.’ It’s more than likely the height that gives the LX such presence (standing a skyscraping 1.865m), that combined with its heavyset look – the styling does nothing to hide its kerb weight of 2.5-2,700kg’s. As far as I’m concerned it’s not the most attractive in the market either, but in saying that, beauty is in the eye of the beholder (so I’m sure that there are lots of people out there that would disagree with me) however one thing’s for sure, it’s certainly not as ‘arty’ as other SUV’s in the Lexus stable, it’s more functional and I guess that that’s the point – it’s apparently built for adventure.
Behind its spindle grille and under the ‘waves’ that feature along the substantial bonnet lies a brute of an engine, an engine that goes a long way to support its bid for conquering the great outdoors. A 4.5L V8 diesel that booms out 200kW of power and 650Nm of torque that is delivered to you at 1600rpm – and its torque just keeps on giving. It will move the LX from 0-100 in 8.6 seconds and up to a max speed 210kph. Fuel consumption is rated at 9.5L/100 k’s (combined) however I only managed to get it to around 14 – even so the 93L fuel tank would get me over 650k’s between fills.
But it’s the inside where LX comes into its own. Shimamoku (high glossed alternating dark and light wood) adorns the majority of the interior beautifully. Leather of course, trim, seats, gear knob, wheel inserts, doors – the list goes on and on. The centre console has a large, deep storage box that doubles as a fridge. The infotainment is (as expected) presented on a large 12.3” multi vision screen that also houses the Sat Nav, 360 degree parking camera, technical data and a host of other fun things to play with. The Heads Up Display has navigation and adaptive cruise information and the LX come full of safety devices to keep you and it safe. Beside the gear stick are suspension raising/lowering switches, crawl rate adjusters and downhill controllers in fact everything you need if you do manage to take this big SUV off road.
Something I found noteworthy was the Adaptive Variable Suspension, it continually adjusts the damping rates of the big LX and the result is phenomenal particularly when you start to get off the tarmac. I had the pleasure of taking the family to the beach at the weekend and that meant driving on gravel roads – the combination of the AVS, traction system and big rubber on its feet meant that try as I might it would not slip or slide and simply glided over the uneven terrain.
Parked up next to the beach I reclined in the dark leather driver’s seat and glanced around at the lavishly appointed interior while turning up my favorite sounds; it is a great place to relax. Being somewhat at peace with the world I looked over the bonnet’s ‘wave’ lines and out towards the sun bathed surf – as if sitting on the balcony of a high class apartment I couldn’t help but revel in the penthouse style vehicle that Lexus had loaned me.
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