With the LM 350h, Lexus is bringing a luxury van to Europe for the first time. As an alternative to a luxury sedan, the Lexus LM is a vehicle that brands such as Audi, BMW or Mercedes lack in their portfolios. In Asia, the luxury vans have been real bestsellers for many years.
In general, vans in Europe are on the decline – and how. In the late 1980s, the segment experienced a real boom, driven by the Renault Espace and the Chrysler Voyager. More and more station wagon fans switched to the very practical vans from the compact, middle and upper class. But the moderate image as a family car remained and so vans such as the Peugeot 807, a VW Sharan or a Ford Galaxy have become unpopular candidates in the portfolios of the various manufacturers over the past ten years. Chrysler also painted its Voyager in many markets and Renault is making a completely normal SUV or upper middle class out of its new Espace. If you want to drive a van, you are more likely to be traveling with a minibus with a VW ID Buzz, VW T7 or Mercedes V-Class.
The fact that there is another way is not only evident in the Asian and especially the Chinese market, where a number of vans also play a role in the luxury and upper classes, but maybe soon in Europe as well. The noble Toyota offshoot Lexus dares something and puts on its 5.13 meter long LM, which is on the variable GA-K platform. At least unofficially, LM stands for Luxury Mover – a cross between van and luxury sedan – with a correspondingly high quality of stay and all the comfort you know from a luxury sedan like the Lexus LS, a Mercedes S-Class or an Audi A8. Unlike a family van, the LM is not about transporting as many people and their luggage as possible, but about offering the few occupants a particularly high level of travel comfort. The Lexus LM is not only available as a seven-seater, but also in a particularly elegant version that offers only two single seats with a rest function behind the two electric sliding doors. In addition to air-conditioned leather seats, ambient lighting, separate automatic climate control, connectivity and control via a central display, the LM offers a gigantic 48-inch widescreen monitor and a 3D sound system by Mark Levinson in the rear.
The occupants – driven safely by a chauffeur – can work on fold-out tables or their tablets in the rear or find peace in the sleeper chairs, as is otherwise the case in a private jet. The armchairs are constructed in such a way that they counteract unnecessary head movements and reduce low-frequency vibrations. The powerful headrests support the upper part of the back and not the neck, keeping the core of the body as stable as possible. Adjustable ottomans support the legs and at the push of a button, the two rear seats can be placed in the horizontal position like an airplane bed. The seat cushions are made of two different materials to provide a soft surface on a hard base and have a tilting function that prevents the occupant from sliding forward when the vehicle brakes.
In Europe, the Lexus will be available from autumn as the LM 350h with a 2.5-liter hybrid drive, which is already known from models such as the NX 350h and RX 350h. The power is 184 kW / 250 hp and a maximum torque of 239 Nm. The top speed is limited to 190 km/h. The Lexus 350h Van has electronic all-wheel drive as standard, which can vary torque between front and rear wheel drive between 100:0 and 20:80. An electronic chassis with special pitch control should ensure that the rear passengers are not uncomfortable even in traffic jams. Perhaps the Lexus LM will launch a new segment of luxury vans.
I’m a recent graduate of the University of Missouri with a degree in journalism. I started working as a news reporter for 24 Hours World about two years ago, and I’ve been writing articles ever since. My main focus is automotive news, but I’ve also written about politics, lifestyle, and entertainment.