We’ve featured a lot of chauffeur-oriented vehicles this week, from the Mercedes-Maybach EQS SUV to the Volvo EX90 Excellence. This isn’t hugely surprising given that Auto Shanghai 2023 is going on right now, but what might be surprising to some is that Lexus appears to have everyone else beat. This is the new Lexus LM and it might just be the ultimate stealth limo. Best of all, it might appear outside of China. While the outgoing Lexus LM is a decked-out Toyota Alphard for the Chinese market, the new one sets its sights on other shores. So, how does Lexus plan on rivaling Maybach with a minivan? By offering incredible space and opulence, simple as.
It’s hard to ignore how designers have given the new Lexus LM a crazy front end. Since it’s both a van and a Lexus, it features a grille large enough to swallow up low-flying helicopters. Oh sure, it’s been toned down with body-color mesh, but it’s still enormous. That being said, it does feel proportionate for a vehicle this tall.
Once you get used to the grille, you’ll notice that Lexus has played some clever tricks with the greenhouse. Not only is there a ton of glass, but all pillars have been visually minimized to some extent with black accents. The result is a real fishbowl look, which is refreshing in an age of rolling bunkers. If that isn’t weird enough for you, check out how the daylight opening is shaped, with painted surfaces and metal accents jutting into the shape. How wonderfully bizarre. The strangeness continues with the rear full-width taillight that actually dips in the middle. Oh, and how’s this for unusual: The LM gets two moonroofs, although neither are where you’d expect them to be.
Instead of a moonroof for the front occupants and a moonroof for the rear occupants separated by a lateral support member, the LM gets two moonroofs above the rear seats, one on either side of the roof. I’m getting third-generation Nissan Quest vibes here, and I like what I’m seeing.
The Lexus LM is available in six-seat and seven-seat configurations for traditional minivan use, but we’re really interested in the four-seat chauffeur-focused seating arrangement. Instead of two rows of flexible rear seats, the four-seat LM gets two massive recliners that genuinely look like high-end furniture. Each headrest is roughly the size of one Yaris (I’m exaggerating, but only kinda), the backrests are articulated, proper footrests pop up for full support, and the ottomans and armrests are heated. Even better, occupants won’t need to dig through virtual menus to adjust the seats as traditional controls sit on either side of a massive fixed console. Speaking of the console, it hides non-slip leather-covered tables for doing business on the go, along with a variety of storage spaces.
Although the rear seats use physical controls, virtual controls still exist for certain functions. Two detachable tablets sit in the rear console to control the sunshades, climate controls, sound system, and 64-color ambient lighting. Impressive stuff, but that’s nothing compared to the sheer solitude available in the back of the LM. Behind the front seats is a full-height partition featuring retractable electrochromic glass that can tint on command, ensuring privacy for whatever activities are going on in the back. Beneath the glass sits an enormous 48-inch widescreen monitor that’s said to be useful for both entertainment and teleconferences, presumably so you can Zoom while you zoom. Beneath that sits the obligatory fridge for keeping passengers refreshed on the go.
While the fridge should keep drinks cool, an insane climate control system aims to keep passengers comfortable. An infrared matrix sensor scans every surface of the rear compartment and its occupants to determine how comfortable the passengers feel in their faces, chests, thighs, and lower legs, and then the climate controls work together with the seat heaters to envelop each passenger in one consistent temperature from head to toe. It’s exactly the sort of obsessive gadget you expect in a high-end Lexus.
Under the hood sits either a 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder hybrid powertrain or a more economical 2.5-liter naturally-aspirated four-cylinder hybrid. Both of these should be familiar as they’re found in various new Toyota products from the Crown to the Grand Highlander. That being said, I’m not sure the powertrain really matters in a vehicle like this. It’s a van, not a performance vehicle. As long as it gets out of its own way, whatever’s under the hood should be just fine. What matters more is that Lexus has fitted the new LM with computer-controlled dampers that have a special rear seat comfort mode for ironing out the ride. It sounds like a fabulous solution that isn’t as maintenance-intensive as air suspension.
While previous Lexus LM models have been almost exclusively for China, Lexus hopes that this new one can carry to new markets. A report from Motor 1 claims that the new LM will be sold in more than 60 countries including in Europe, a market perhaps more accepting of a posh minivan than North America. Sadly, the LM won’t be crossing the U.S. border anytime soon, but there’s a chance that’s shortsighted.
It’s a shame that the Lexus LM won’t make it to America because I reckon it would do fairly well among a subset of the rich and famous. A whole bunch of celebrities own Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans, but those aren’t entourage vehicles meant to carry a whole bunch of luggage. Instead, they’re fully kitted-out living rooms on wheels with reclining chairs, TVs, drinks cabinets, and the like.
Think of these as private jets for the road. A first-party warrantied alternative with the Lexus promise of reliability would make a very compelling alternative to pimped-out cargo vans.
(Photo credits: Lexus)
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I like it but
… it’s destined for BangBus.
I would pay to never have to look at this godless whisk broom again.
Kinda gives me a Snowpiercer vibe.