This luxury minivan’s face seems to share in our reaction to its surely six-figure price tag.
- This executive van from Lexus is making its debut at the Shanghai auto show.
- It’s intended as luxurious chauffeured transportation for the business executive who has everything.
- The Lexus LM is similar in size to the long-wheelbase Ford Transit Connect while seating only four.
Luxurious executive vans are a thing pretty much everywhere but America. These lavishly appointed boxes serve generally the same purpose that limousines do here, only with more headroom, and they can be just as expensive as a Mercedes-Benz S-class or similar. For as much sense as that makes, we’re grasping at straws to explain Lexus’s new LM luxury van beyond that programmatic purpose.
So, for help, we’ve turned to the Google-translated version of Lexus’s Chinese-language press release for the van. It makes almost no sense, but even then, it makes slightly more sense than this van does from our foreign, not-intended-market perspective. To be clear, there is no threat at present that this LM will be sold outside of China and other select Asian markets, and it is making its debut at the Shanghai auto show.
Let’s begin with the LM’s exterior, which Lexus describes as having “eye-catching style” and “a family-style chrome-plated spindle grille.” This is no turn for the absurd, as there’s plenty about the LM’s face that is both arresting and sure to be hated uniformly by the whole family at the same time. What Mercedes-Benz fosters togetherness and consensus?
There are many intriguing styling touches beyond that . . . grille. Like, why do those chrome spears running under the front windows and above the rear windows almost meet in the middle of the B-pillar? Why not? It’s dramatic, like two lovers who’ve lost touch and reach futilely in the dark for each other’s embrace. The little humps on each side of the rear spoiler remind us of those winter hats worn by children, you know, the ones with animal faces on them and ears sprouting from the top. Adorable! And the LM has perhaps the widest size disparity of any modern vehicle between its ambitiously blistered fenders and its wheels, a maximal statement that surely counts for something in the luxury space.
Inside there is even more world-beating luxury to be found. The LM, which, running on our knowledge of the Toyota Alphard on which it is based, is about the size of a long-wheelbase Ford Transit Connect, only seats four people. Most of the focus is on those passengers seated in the second row, which is made up of what look like two first-class airline seats that recline. They face a partition that, to carry the airplane theme further, resembles an airplane bulkhead but in fact references Chinese screen walls. In that wall is a 26.0-inch display, as well as a figurative display of modern income disparity standing between the moneyed riders and the plebes up front.
You’ll be glad to know that Lexus claims the LM’s “cockpit” to be “temperature-filled.” Not like those other luxury vans, see, the ones that relegate you to cabins with the vacuousness of deep space. Here, the only open space should be in the occupants’ heads, as Lexus puts it: “The embellishment and white space, the driver and the passengers’ minds, in the landscape, taste the art of life journey; elegant stitching and leather finishes are dotted in the cockpit, so that the occupants in the subtleties taste the temperature-filled ingenuity Process.” Fire your therapist; the LM will massage your chakras from here on out.
There also is a 0.5-cubic-foot refrigerator that Lexus suggests can be used to store “2 bottles of champagne or wine” for “wonderful moments on the trip,” even though the automaker seems ambivalent toward sober LM riders with the credo “Whether you have a drink or a discretion, there is always a good wine.” We’ll drink to that?
Beyond promising “sincere hospitality,” probably somewhere in its facilitating of drunken pleasure, the LM’s cabin is further described as “a luxurious study room with tranquility and peace of mind, and an elegant tea room with a welcoming friend and unique charm,” which we take to mean it can shape-shift between an office and a tea room, although either way it comes with a human companion. That saying about money not buying you friends? That was a lie, and Lexus proves it.
We know almost nothing about the LM’s mechanical package beyond its suspension consisting of “swing-valve dampers” and apparently having been carefully tuned for comfort. And that’s about all we think we need to know, frankly.
So there you have it—the Lexus LM is a nice, luxurious van with plenty of meta, cosmic-boundary-expanding appeal. But mostly, it’s a sure-to-be-pricey van that’s hideously ugly. And now, some parting words from Lexus China marketing director Chen Hao: “Lexus users in China will soon exceed one million. In the future, we will stand in the millions and be the best. Through a comprehensive product lineup, fully meet the needs of Chinese users. Personalized needs, the Lexus craftsmanship and unique ‘temperature luxury’ are passed on to more users. I hope that in the future, more and more Chinese consumers, together with Lexus, will be able to enjoy it. The world; calmly explore the extraordinary new world, see the mind in the details of the ingenuity, and share the world of life with a broad mind.”