Automotive

Lexus makes the minivan a proper luxury car with chauffeur-ready LM MPV

Lexus makes the minivan a prop...
Lexus shows the world what a luxury minivan looks like at Auto Shanghai 2019
Lexus shows the world what a luxury minivan looks like at Auto Shanghai 2019
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Lexus shows the world what a luxury minivan looks like at Auto Shanghai 2019
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Lexus shows the world what a luxury minivan looks like at Auto Shanghai 2019
World premiere of the Lexus LM 
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World premiere of the Lexus LM 
The Lexus spindle grille is already a controversial styling cue, and the massive iteration on the LM should only prove even more controversial
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The Lexus spindle grille is already a controversial styling cue, and the massive iteration on the LM should only prove even more controversial
Lexus slides a different style of luxury vehicle into its lineup at Auto Shanghai 2019
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Lexus slides a different style of luxury vehicle into its lineup at Auto Shanghai 2019
The available four-seater features a divider wall with built-in display
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The available four-seater features a divider wall with built-in display
Lexus gussies up its Toyota Alphard with rich black or white paint and plenty of chrome
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Lexus gussies up its Toyota Alphard with rich black or white paint and plenty of chrome
Lexus promises a smooth ride courtesy of the ES-derived suspension
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Lexus promises a smooth ride courtesy of the ES-derived suspension
Lexus premieres the all-new LM MPV
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Lexus premieres the all-new LM MPV
Lexus premieres the all-new LM MPV
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Lexus premieres the all-new LM MPV
The four-seat VIP rear cabin features two recliners, an entertainment system, a refrigerator and a touchscreen controller
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The four-seat VIP rear cabin features two recliners, an entertainment system, a refrigerator and a touchscreen controller
The LM was developed specifically for Asian markets, where chauffeured vehicles with VIP rear cabins are popular
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The LM was developed specifically for Asian markets, where chauffeured vehicles with VIP rear cabins are popular
The LM will come in both 3.5-liter and hybrid models
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The LM will come in both 3.5-liter and hybrid models
Enjoying the ride in the back of the Lexus LM
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Enjoying the ride in the back of the Lexus LM
The Lexus LM is the style of luxury business van we usually expect from aftermarket upfitters like Brabus
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The Lexus LM is the style of luxury business van we usually expect from aftermarket upfitters like Brabus

Far from the world of stretched luxury sedans, minivans are among the least glamorous vehicles on global roadways. Fair or not, the minivan is often dismissed as a frumpy, unattractive grocery-getter driven begrudgingly by those who have given up automotive passion for no-frills practicality. With Lexus jumping in the game, though, the minivan is getting a new lease on life and might even become something of an object of desire. Will the new Lexus LM help raise the minivan image from "soccer dad" to "jet-setting international power broker?" Probably not, but it does bring some fresh style and luxury to the MPV segment.

Looking the LM over, it appears quite closely based on the Toyota Alphard, dressed up with a Lexus-emblemed spindle grille and all the luxury upfitting that goes along with it. And what of that grill? The spindle grille is a polarizing design element in general, but this absolutely massive version all but swallowing the entire front-end is certain to attract some detractors. But the Alphard itself has a huge grille, so we suppose there was no stopping Lexus designers from going hog wild with the spindle.

Lexus gussies up its Toyota Alphard with rich black or white paint and plenty of chrome
Lexus gussies up its Toyota Alphard with rich black or white paint and plenty of chrome

Behind the grille, the strong, level roofline and wraparound rear glasshouse provide a convincing foundation for a luxury minivan, and Lexus drives the look home with bumper-to-bumper chrome accenting atop rich, deep-black paint. Those that prefer something brighter can opt for the other paint option, White Pearl Crystal Shine. Outside of the hard-to-love grille, Lexus does a nice job of keeping things understated and elegant, giving the LM the look of an aftermarket business van conversion that comes straight from the factory.

The drama really intensifies once the door slides open. Buyers can opt for the everyday seven-seat family-hauler, but why would they when they can go full-on private business cabin? The four-seat configuration follows Asian preferences for chauffeured luxury vehicles with VIP-style rear seating. The two rear recliners are split off from the driver's area by a divider wall with integrated 26-in display accompanied by Mark Levinson audio. A retractable window makes for easy communication between rear and front.

The four-seat VIP rear cabin features two recliners, an entertainment system, a refrigerator and a touchscreen controller
The four-seat VIP rear cabin features two recliners, an entertainment system, a refrigerator and a touchscreen controller

Rear passengers can kick back in their first-class cocoon and enjoy multimedia content during the ride, controlling everything from seating position to climate with the centralized touch panel. Lexus promises the utmost in comfort thanks to the suction-ventilated rear seating that cushions like a TV room recliner with its low-density urethane foam padding. The cabin also includes a champagne refrigerator and dedicated umbrella holder.

Helping to isolate those very important rear passengers from the road outside is a suspension system relying on the swing-valve shock absorbers introduced on the ES sedan. As Lexus explained last year, the system's ultra low velocity valve is able to react to the slightest jostling of the vehicle's wheels and suspension, ensuring a velvety smooth ride.

The seven-seat configuration drops the status down from exclusive lounge to family restaurant, but it's still a fancy restaurant you'll want to reserve a table at ahead of time. The layout includes a center row with two captain's chairs and a three-seat rear bench, all seats wrapped in leather. Lexus imagines this configuration being popular with business professionals who also want to use the van for family trips.

Lexus premieres the all-new LM MPV
Lexus premieres the all-new LM MPV

Lexus will offer its luxury MPV 3.5-liter petrol LM 350 and 2.5-liter hybrid LM 250h variants. All-wheel and front-wheel drive options will be available. Unfortunately for Americans and others outside Asia daydreaming about becoming the envy of travel club soccer practice, the LM has been designed strictly for China and select Asian markets. It makes its debut at the 2019 Shanghai auto show.

Get acquainted with the LM in the short video below.

Introducing the Lexus LM

Source: Lexus

9 comments
CAVUMark
Can't say enough about that front grill.
yawood
That is even more ugly than the rest of the Lexus lineup, and that's saying something. That corporate grill is soooo bad!
Nobody
They can keep it in Asia. It's too ugly for our roads. I can't even stand the newer Toyota grills with that bottom sucking carp grill they have.
craig_a
That cow-catcher grill is really awful, but maybe that's the style in the target market. I sure hope it doesn't leak over into this market.
Thinker
Looks to me like a beached whale ...... with its mouth open.
Biker Bill
I have a Lexus and love the reliability factor, but this thing is hideous. Until Toyota gets rid of that insane grill on ALL their cars, I am just going to look elsewhere in the future. Whatever happened to "bumpers"?
ljaques
So totally rad, man. A Hearse with a Bigarse Mouth Grille! Needs more rhinestones in the grille, though. And rims. More hip, less hop.
Jason Catterall
My fridge is considerably better looking than this...
warren52nz
I agree with the others. I love my Lexus GS450h but they need to get designers who know how to make a car look great. This ain't it.