Dramatic new Lexus LM premiers as definition of luxury in a box
Standout is the four-seater model complete with a 23-speaker sound system and massive 48-inch HD screen behind the front seats.
Second generation LM a dramatic visual departure from the original. Image: Lexus
Easily one of the most dramatic unveilings of the recent Shanghai Auto Show, Lexus has detailed the second generation version of the ultra-luxurious LM minivan destined for sales, for the first time, outside of the People’s Republic.
Introduced three years ago as an alternative to the hugely popular Buick GL8 that has dominated the lucrative and luxury MPV segment in China for over two decades, the LM shares its fundamentals with the Toyota Alphard and besides its intended market, will also be offered in select European countries as well as in Japan.
Forget the LS and LX
Essentially the preview of what to expect from the fourth generation Alphard and its sportier offshoot, the Vellfire due for unveiling later this year, the LM, its name denoting luxury mover, rides on the same TNGA-K platform as the Toyota RAV4 and RX and as before, comes as standard with seven seats, or optionally with six in a captain’s style second row arrangement.
Measuring 5 130 mm long, 1 945 mm tall and 1 890 mm wide, the LM rides on an exact 3 000 mm wheelbase and besides sporting a massively oversized Spindle Grille with chrome accents, sports a pair of dual sliding electric doors, a blacked-out D-pillar and so-called sonic 17 or 19-inch alloy wheels.
Said to be 50% more rigid than the previous model, in addition to being quieter thanks to upgraded sound deadening materials, the LM debuts as the first non-F Sport Lexus to receive the Adaptive Variable Suspension, albeit retuned for comfort and with frequency sensitive piston valve dampers designed to provide an “excellent ride quality regardless of speed”.
Claimed to also reduce vibration and aid rear seat comfort, the suspension lacks the F Sport drive mode selector as this goes against the principle of what the LM represents, according to Lexus.
Opulent luxury and space
What it does, however, signify, according to Lexus, is the ultimate in Omotenashi that denotes the Japanese philosophy for hospitality.
Besides the front seats being new, the cabin is dominated by an expansive centre console, still with a gear lever, as well as a new dual 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and infotainment system.
Unsurprisingly, the rear takes centre stage where both six and seven-seats models receive an overhead climate control panel with sensors that monitors and adjusts based on occupant’s body temperature, seats designed to support posture and with heating and cooling, and in the case of the latter, a 14-inch display that operates separately from the main infotainment system up front.
Also unique to the seven-seat model is a 21-speaker Mark Levinson 3D sound system developed specifically for the LM.
When the ultimate is still not enough…
The main highlight though is the flagship four-seat model that only sports reclining rear seats, but also a five-layer sound eliminating roofliner, wood inserts, a centre console with an armrest, cupholders, wireless smartphone charger and various USB port between the seats, and an uprated 23-speaker Mark Levinson audio.
While the seats themselves are also electric, heated and ventilated, the centrepiece of the four-seater is a 48-inch HD monitor integrated into a partition that separates the cabin from the rear.
According to Lexus, the screen functions as both an entertainment device and for business meetings on the move. Positioned underneath it is a pair of storage holds on the sides and in the centre, a refrigerator.
Not surprisingly, the LM receives almost every conceivable safety and driver assistance system Lexus has to offer, such as a 360-degree surround-view camera, Driver Attention Alert, Pre-Collision with Steering Assist, Dynamic Radar Cruiser Control, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Change Assist, Front and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Safe Exit Assist and what Lexus calls Abnormal Driver Response that uses sensors and activates warnings when it detects abnormal driving behaviour methods.
Providing motivation, a choice of two hybrid powerplants have been selected; a conventional 2.5 that produces a combined a 184 kW in the LM 350h and a new 2.4-litre turbo in the LM 500h likely to be similar to the unit that powers the NX and LX.
Although Lexus didn’t disclose any power figures related to the latter, in the RX, it pumps out 273 kW delivered to all four corners through a six-speed automatic gearbox.
On the LM 350h, drive also goes to all four corners thanks an electric motor mounted on the rear axle, albeit though a CVT instead of the torque-converter automatic.
South Africa misses out
Going on-sale in the European autumn that runs from September to November, the LM hasn’t been earmarked for South Africa as a result of the greater popularity of SUVs versus MPVs.