Lexus LX450 (1996)

Lexus LX450 (1996)

Lexus LX450 (1996)

This is essentially a Toyota Land Cruiser that's been gussied up. It comeswith all-wheel drive, with a locking differential. For seriousfour-wheel-drive types of activities, the Lexus LX 450 is magnificent. Inany kind of rough weather, it performs spectacularly. I found myselflooking for bigger and bigger snowbanks, just because I could!

It's also nice and comfortable, with leather seats, climate control, a CDchanger and everything you'd expect in a Lexus. The ride was somewhattruck-like, but what do you expect? It is a truck!

One thing we didn't like--it's a very heavy truck with only a six-cylinderengine. And while it's a big six-cylinder engine, on any kind of hillyhighways it was shifting constantly to try to find the right gear, which gotannoying.

This is a softened up-brute, which is more than you need for around town andmore luxurious than you need for serious four-wheel driving. So, it sort offalls into its own category. It's a prestige car. And Lexus will certainlysell a bunch of them.

I should also mention the safety advantage of all that weight. The LX 450performed superbly in our 20 mph crash test, which our producer, Dougie, waskind enough to perform after a day of skiing at Lake Tahoe. A BMW slidacross the road and hit him almost head-on, and not only was no one hurt,but the LX 450 came out of the incident with no more than a bent fender anda cracked directional lamp. The BMW, on the other hand, came out about 14inches shorter.

This is a unique vehicle, very easy to like and respect. If it had a V8 anda $15,000-off coupon, I'd buy one in a minute.

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