Sea of Tranquillity

by Petrol Mum
Lexus LX500d Khaki Metal with boats at Empire Marina Bobbin Head

Step up into the Lexus LX500d, close the door, and listen. You will not only hear the silence, but feel it as well. Lexus vehicles are renowned for their lack of interior rattles and this LX500d was no exception. But I also felt a closeness in the cabin, a bit like I was driving in noise cancelling ear phones, uncanny for a large diesel-powered SUV.

The sense of tranquillity I felt may have been a result of the Tazuna Concept, a new cockpit design incorporated into the LX cabin that allows the driver to connect more intuitively with the vehicle and better concentrate on driving. The central digital driver’s dash and coloured head-up display form part of this philosophy.

In addition, the materials used in the cabin add to the luxury feel and aroma of the cabin with leather-accented trim, this colour is called Hazel, and wood marquetry handmade by Japanese craftspeople, in Shimamoku Black on the LX500d I drove. Genuine woodgrain forms part of the top and bottom sections of the leather-accented covered steering wheel as well with metal wheel-mounted paddle shifters, which I did not feel the need to use in this luxury SUV that is better equipped for cruising rather than outright performance.

Both front seats are heated in the LX500d with power adjustment for recline, forward/back, seat height front and rear and 2-way lumbar support. The driver’s seat also gets powered front leg extension and three memory positions. I was impressed that the leather on front seats did not look worn even though this vehicle had more than 13,000kms on the odometer.

Between the two seats there is a wide arm rest that can be flipped up from either side and inside it is deep enough to store two full-size wine bottles, but sadly this cubby is not cooled on the LX500d. The centre console has a wireless phone charging pad for compatible devices, however this pad does not secure your phone, so it may slide around or even fall off if you were off-roading. The two cup holders in the centre console have grippy sides and a removable rubber mat for easy cleaning and the drink bottle storage cubby in the front doors is awkwardly shaped and not suitable for taller rigid drink bottles.

At the front of the centre console is another cubby for phone storage with one USB-C port, one USB-A port and a 12V outlet. Wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connect your smartphone to the Lexus infotainment system. Other media sources include AM/FM radio, DAB and Bluetooth to be enjoyed on the Mark Levinson Reference 3D Surround Sound System. Special attention has even been paid to the speaker grilles that feature a leaf vein-inspired pattern that expresses the warmth of nature. Voice control can be activated by pressing the button on the steering wheel with the masculine looking silhouette on it and it worked well for me for making phone calls, changing the radio station and entering a destination on the sat nav.

Lexus LX500d dual screens

The LX has a dual screen set-up with upper and lower touch displays that can be optioned to show various information for on or off-road driving. For example, the upper 12.3-inch touch screen can have navigation on the full screen while the lower 7-inch touch display shows air conditioning information. During off-road driving, the 12.3-inch touch display shows the Multi-terrain Monitor with road surface and other conditions, while the 7-inch touch display shows driving conditions such as vehicle height, vehicle inclinometer, and acceleration/braking pedal operation.

The LX500d is a seven seat SUV with the third row being accessed by flipping either of the outer second row seats completely up and out of the way at the push of a button. The gap created was large enough for me to step into the third-row seat and I did fit, sort of. My head was touching the roof and my knees were up very high. This and because the third row does not have any child seat restraint points makes them really only suitable for tween-sized children or for temporary adult use only. The third row seats have power adjustment for recline and in each wheel arch there are two rigid drink holders and one USB-C port with air vents in the roof and one mat across the floor. The third-row passenger is able to release the second-row seat themselves to get out and the third row seats can be raised and lowered using the buttons on the either C-pillar or in the boot, but if the second row seat is slightly obstructing the seats it doesn’t work and you need to move the second row seat and try again.

The second row seats have ample head and leg room for two adults to comfortably sit back there or three car seats could be fitted across the back seat with careful selection, using the two ISOFIX/three rear tether child seat restraint points available. There is plenty of luxury here too thanks to the quad-zone digital climate control for mode, air speed and temperature with central air vents and roof vents. In a flip down cubby under the climate controls there are two USB-C ports and one 12V outlet.  The thick carpet mat completely covers the footwell including over the transmission tunnel and manual blinds on the rear windows add a final touch of indulgence.

With the third row seats in use the space available in the boot is not even large enough for school bags, which is another reason why these seats should only be used on a temporary basis. With the third-row seats folded down the boot space is very large and would fit a pram and the weekly shop. There are four substantial tie down points in the boot with one 220V 100W three-pronged plug and a full-size spare tyre under the vehicle. The tailgate has powered open/close with a button under the boot lid, on the key fob and in the cabin.

Active safety on the LX500d comprises the Lexus Safety System+, including Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection & Daytime Cyclist Detection, Lane Tracing Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Blind Spot Monitor System with Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Passive safety includes 10 airbags incorporating driver and front passenger: Front, Knee, Side; and Rear: Side airbags, but the Lexus LX range does not have an ANCAP safety rating. For convenience you get auto lights, auto wipers, and automatic high beam. Plus, the reversing camera has a 360o view with a button you can press that takes a virtual walk around the vehicle and front and rear parking sensors and if you get the rear camera dirty it has a washer to clean it.  

The LX 500d features a newly-developed 3.3-litre V6 twin-turbo diesel engine with smooth power delivery that generates 227kW of power and 700Nm of torque, paired with a new 10-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive with a L4 setting. The official combined fuel consumption is 8.9L/100km and for my week I used 9.9L/100km of diesel. The LX500d has six on-road drive modes, Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport, Sport+ and Custom. I felt that Comfort mode best suited the relaxed and calm driving style of the LX500d and the only time I noticed this LX was actually powered by a diesel engine was under hard acceleration. I did not drive the LX500d off-road, but it is fitted with Multi-Terrain Select, Downhill Assist Control, Hill-Start Assist, Crawl Control, and centre diff lock should you want to go further afield in your Lexus.

A Lexus LX purchase comes with added benefits that go beyond the luxury driving experience with three years access to Encore Platinum. Encore Platinum includes three years Capped Price Servicing ($495 each for up to six services with an interval of 6 months/10,000km whichever occurs first), a Service Loan car and Lexus DriveCare. Plus, the ability to borrow a different Lexus vehicle from selected dealerships for work or leisure for up to four trips, of up to 8 days each, over your 3-year membership period. Or if you head to Westfield or Chadstone shopping centres for a hit of retail therapy, just drop your keys off and enjoy complimentary valet parking for up to eight visits at selected locations over your 3-year membership period. All new Lexus vehicles now come with a 5 Year/Unlimited Kilometre warranty.

Driving the Lexus LX500d felt a bit confusing at times for me because I knew I was driving a large diesel-engine SUV yet my senses repeatedly told me otherwise thanks to the tranquil cabin atmosphere. The Lexus LX500d is priced at $153,091 excluding on-road costs. Visit your preferred Lexus dealer to experience this luxury SUV for yourself.

The serene cabin experienceThird row seats only suitable for temporary use
Quad-zone digital climate control No cooled box under the arm rest
Access to Encore PlatinumNo ANCAP safety rating

Photographs by Driven Women Magazine. Special thanks to Nikki from Empire Marina at Bobbin Head for the beautiful backdrop for these photographs.

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