Lexus‘ first luxury people mover, the LM, has been approved for sale in Australia.
CarExpert understands the LM will launch in the fourth quarter of 2023. It’s one of three new vehicles in three new segments for the Japanese brand that will arrive by mid-2024, with the other two expected to be the LBX crossover and GX off-roader.
The company had confirmed earlier this year it would launch the second-generation LM locally, but declined to reveal more specific launch timing, specification and pricing.
Government approval documents, however, list two variants: both with seven seats, a 2.5-litre four-cylinder hybrid powertrain, and a choice of 17- or 19-inch alloy wheels. One variant is front-wheel drive, the other all-wheel drive.
While these documents omit perhaps the most intriguing LM options, being a more powerful hybrid powertrain and a sumptuous four-seat interior, CarExpert understands both of these are coming to Australia.
The 3.5-litre V6 of the old LM, exclusive to Asia, has been replaced with a 2.4-litre turbocharged hybrid “similar” to that of the RX500h F Sport Performance.
While outputs have yet to be released, the RX500h has a total system output of 273kW. Should the LM500h offer a similar output, it would be easily the most powerful people mover on the market.
This turbo hybrid powertrain will be available only in a flagship four-seat model, which features a partition between the two rows, the upper part of which has a plate of smoked glass and boasts a 48-inch widescreen display that can be used to watch media or conduct meetings.
The second row comprises individual captain’s chairs with armrests and a retractable ottoman, with a centre armrest including a retractable table finished in non-slip leather trim that’s large enough for a laptop.
Other luxe touches include multi-operation panels on the armrests and a ‘Rear Climate Concierge’ function.
Posh people movers have long been popular in Japan, and China has embraced them wholeheartedly – even the Honda Odyssey is available with a similar four-seat set-up there, complete with partition.
The 2.5-litre four in the LM350h produces 140kW according to the documents, however this doesn’t appear to be the total system output of the engine combined with the electric motor(s).
The same powertrain in a Toyota Kluger Hybrid, for example, pumps out 184kW. As in models like the Kluger, the hybrid powertrain uses a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
The LM features Adaptive Variable Suspension, while a new Rear Comfort drive mode prioritises what its name suggests, minimising pitch and roll during acceleration and deceleration.
The people mover measures 5125mm long, 1890mm wide and 1945mm tall on a 3000mm wheelbase.
That makes it 30mm shorter, 95mm narrower and 190mm taller than a Kia Carnival on a 90mm shorter wheelbase. It’s also smaller than the HiAce-based Toyota Granvia, currently the poshest people mover the company offers locally.
However, it’s relatively close in size to its most direct rival, the Mercedes-Benz V-Class. The rival people mover measures 5140mm long, 1928mm wide and 1880mm tall on a 3200mm wheelbase.
While the previous LM, derived from the Toyota Alphard/Vellfire common in Australia as grey imports, was offered only in select Asian markets, Lexus has more global aspirations for the new model.
It’ll be offered not only in Japan and Australia for the first time, but also in Europe. In total, Lexus says it’ll offer it in more than 60 countries.