1 May 1998
By CHRIS HARRIS
LEXUS needed to boost in sales in SUV-crazy America, so came up with the idea of the LX 450 back in the mid-‘90s.
This Toyota 80 Series LandCruiser wagon may have had coil spring suspension and a smooth and powerful V8, but it was still a tough go-anywhere vehicle in drag. But tens of thousands were sold Stateside anyway.
So the second-generation LX Toyota again donated its LandCruiser hardware, but this time it was the far-more refined 100 Series wagon.
Lexus added all sorts of luxury features, including its famous Optitron instrumentation, and then installed a 4.7-litre ‘4CAM’ 32-valve V8 producing 170kW of power and 410Nm of torque.
Traction control was added in January ’00, while a raft of running changes heralded the Series II LX 470 in October ’02.
These included a five-speed automatic gearbox replacing the old four-speed unit, stability control, self-levelling suspension for a marginally better ride, and a host of other little luxuries.
But, compared to the third-generation Range Rover the Lexus competed with, there was no silk purse present in this particular sow’s ear – no matter how good the iconic Toyota LandCruiser is off road.