Lexus LX First generation J80
|1996 to 1997|
|Also called||Toyota Land Cruiser (J80)|
|Production||November 1995 – December 1997|
|Engine||4.5 L 1FZ-FE I6|
|Transmission||4-speed A343F automatic|
|Wheelbase||2,850 mm (112.2 in)|
|Length||4,821 mm (189.8 in)|
|Width||1,930 mm (76.0 in)|
|Height||1,869 mm (73.6 in)|
Rapidly developed in the mid-1990s as a result of threatening US trade sanctions on Japanese luxury cars, the LX 450 started production in November 1995 and was released to the US in January 1996 as a 1996 model; Canada received the LX from 1997. The LX 450 was Lexus's first SUV and was almost entirely based on the sixth generation Toyota Land Cruiser (J80). Differences lay in a restyled, more luxurious interior and softer suspension settings. The first LX 450 rolled off the production line in December 1995.
The LX 450 was powered by a 4.5 liter, twin-cam, four-valve inline-six engine that produced 160 kW (215 hp) and 373 N·m (275 lb·ft) of torque. Both front and rear axles were solid. Externally, the LX 450 was identical to the J80 series Land Cruiser, with the exception of the grille, side body cladding, and wheels. Side running boards give step-up access. The vehicle had additional sound-absorbing insulation.
Amenities included leather seats and seating for seven passengers in three rows, the third row accessed by tilting the second row bench seat forward. The third row could be folded to the side and the second row folded down for further space. The vehicle was pre-wired for the Lexus remote telephone system, and had a remote entry key system.The three options consisted of a console-mounted 6-disc CD changer, electronic front and rear locking differentials, and a power moonroof. At the time of its sales debut in early 1996, the LX 450 was listed in the US at a suggested base price of $47,995, an approximately $7,000 premium over the Land Cruiser, with a base price of $40,678 in 1996.
Targeted against luxury SUV competitors such as Range Rover, the LX 450 sold over 5,000 units in 1996 and over 9,000 units in 1997. At its launch it sold out its initial production allocation, resulting in a two-month wait list, surpassing initial expectations which had called for 4,000 units that year. It was brought to market as US buyers showed greater interest in large SUVs, which had grown popular because of their high driver's vantage point and truck-like characteristics. Lexus customer research revealed that one in six owners were purchasing large SUVs to add to their garages. An additional factor was the US-Japan trade war of the mid-1990s. The US government threatened to place 100 percent tariffs on all Japanese luxury import cars, but not including SUVs. The LX 450 was produced as a rebadged model (in contrast with other Lexus efforts which were independently or divergently developed from Toyota vehicles), giving a model that was exempt from the tariff.Ultimately a gentlemen's agreement was reached and the threatened tariffs did not materialize.
The LX 450 replaced the Land Cruiser in the Canadian market starting after 1996, reducing internal competition (big expensive SUVs have traditionally faced a difficult market in Canada) and avoiding the issue of selling a rebadged model (except for GM, Ford and Chrysler, rebadged models in Canada have not met with success). For a 5,000 lb (2,300 kg) vehicle, the LX 450 was regarded by some critics as underpowered, leading to the shortening of its model cycle (despite sales increases) and replacement with a V8-powered successor.
The LX 450 was the top-ranked full-size SUV in J.D. Power and Associates' Initial Quality Survey, with the lowest number of problems during the first three months of ownership.