What do you get when you combine luxury with off-road capabilities?  Well, the Lexus LX 450 of course!

The LX 450 was actually a pioneer of sorts, entering the luxury SUV market when there was barely one to enter.  It debuted in 1996 and at that time an SUV was something most people had never heard of let alone driven.   Suddenly Lexus offered a luxurious warrior that could handle anything you would face on a commute or errand-filled day and do it with refinement and comfort.  Consumers took one look or one test drive of this top-dollar SUV and decided that if in fact there was a need for go-anywhere capabilities that they needed to be comfortable in the process.

If you think about it, this was something of an odd combination, one that should never have sounded like a good idea in the Lexus boardroom.  Asking people to pay a premium price for a vehicle that would probably never be needed to demonstrate its off-road abilities sounds a bit foolish, but a round of applause goes to Lexus for knowing more than the rest of us armchair critics.  It turned out to be a smashing success and allowed Lexus to corner a barely existing market before it grew to what it is today.

The LX450 was not the most powerful option in this field.  It was powered by a rather sluggish 4.5-liter six-cylinder engine that gave 212 horsepower with a permanent four-wheel drive ride, and it only offered a 5000 pound towing capacity while getting a horrific 13 mpg in the city and 15 mph on the open road.  By today’s standards those are ugly figures.

And yet it sold, as did its successor the LX 470, a much more powerful replacement.  What really sold the LX 450 was the rich interior which Lexus has never been stingy about.  No, let’s be honest: what really sold this model was the idea that you could go anywhere while driving something big and comfortable.  It had a feeling of status and power even though it never delivered on the power part of that illusion.

As usual, any Lexus vehicle is built to last.  As a general rule any Japanese import car is designed to be a part of the permanent landscape of America and as such one can still find a used LX 450 around today. Chances are the miles will be high on it but chances are also good that structurally and mechanically it is still sound and worth the $5000 you are likely to pay for it.

Think the Toyota Land Cruiser and all it had to offer and then give it a face-lift and you have the LX 450, a true workhorse in a satin gown.