The Lexus of minivans

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By Manny N. de los Reyes

I’VE BEEN to just about every major motor show in every corner of the globe. I’m used to seeing sleek new models being unveiled. I’m used to seeing racecars and supercars that look incredibly fast (and often are). I’m used to seeing concept cars that are so outlandish that they often don’t even see the light of day.

What I’m not used to seeing, however, is a corporate booth being mobbed by legions of media members jostling to take a better look or to take photos of…. a minivan.

Yes, a minivan. You read that right. But this is no glorified people-carrier or mom mobile.

It is, to put it succinctly, the Lexus of minivans. That’s also putting it literally.

And that’s because Lexus has finally seen fit to make a minivan — one that is poised to redefine the genre the way the seminal Lexus LS 400 redefined luxury sedans way back in 1989.

And it is this very Lexus, debuting with the name LM, that stopped me in my tracks while I wandered the halls of the Shanghai Motor Show. “LM” stands for Luxury Mover, and it emphasizes Lexus’ commitment to delivering amazing experiences, and reveals their vision for a new luxury mobile lifestyle.

The spacious yet sophisticated Luxury Mover, soon to be available in China and select Asian markets, responds to the increased demand for products tailored to local and individual tastes.

The unique flexibility and spaciousness inherent to the luxury MPV category has helped its evolution into an unrivaled form of luxury transport in Asia, driving stable segment growth over the past five years. The Lexus LM aims to create a luxury rear seat experience unlike any other to help cater to the growing demands for chauffeured vehicles from Asia’s luxury consumers.

The Lexus LM seeks to meet the needs of the modern, driven, always on-the-go professionals who view their luxury vehicle as more than mere transportation. Compared to traditional luxury vehicles, Lexus envisions a luxury environment creating a personal space that helps occupants perform better in business and also maximizes time when on the move. The height and width of the LM allows its four-seat configuration to offer a crafted mobile space equally adept at supporting business ambitions with a private space that has been optimized for both work and relaxation.

The Lexus LM will be offered in two models (LM 350 and LM 300h) and two drive types (front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive). Availability will vary by market. The LM 350 uses a 3.5-liter DOHC petrol engine while the LM 300h employs a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine in a hybrid system.

Based on the already luxurious Toyota Alphard, the LM’s exterior is defined by the Lexus spindle grille, and chrome accentuation of the side body. The center pillar is adorned with dual arrowhead chrome ornamentation that enhances the vehicle’s side-view and hints to its premium nature. The grille is chrome plated with flowing accents that help create the sense of dynamism necessary to distinguish this vehicle. Two exterior color options are available for the LM: Black and White Pearl Crystal Shine.

Unique headlamps integrate the distinctive arrowhead shape of Lexus daytime running lamps, and offer composite projection beams. In addition, the rear LED lamps inspired by the Lexus new design signature use a wide lens spanning the entire rear width of the LM.

Lexus helps define the MPV segment’s luxury class by offering a choice of optimized interior configurations. Expertly crafted details such as leather wrapped surfaces and stitched panels create an interior with a premium feel. Newly developed Gin-Sui-Boku (Silver Ink) ornamentation inspired by the art of ink wash painting adorns the interior giving it a distinctive appeal.

The Lexus LM is equipped with a Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound System that delivers clear, live-sounding in-car audio entertainment. The use of acoustic glass helps achieve an extraordinary level of quietness that further elevates luxury.

The opulent four-seat configuration of the LM is suited to the chauffeured needs of the urban, business-focused professional as it provides a relaxing, private environment. The four-seat layout boasts two large, throne-style, high back supportive seats in the rear of the luxury mobile space. In this configuration, the LM aims to create a rear seat experience unrivaled among luxury vehicles. The reclining angle was carefully designed for optimum relaxation, and the position of the occupant’s face relative to the window. The seats rely on plush low-density urethane foam that offers ideal support with couch-like comfort. These seats are also cooled using suction ventilation that draws air through the seat surface to enhance comfort.

The rear cabin features a 26-inch screen, a 14-liter refrigerator, umbrella storage, and center console with touch control panel. The panel controls the seat position, relaxation function, climate control and audio for the rear private space. The refrigerator accommodates wine bottles and glasses.

The glass of the rear partition is adjustable to help regulate the privacy of the rear space. The 26-inch screen interfaces with computers, smartphones, and tablets, and plays Blu-ray DVDs.

The LM is also available in a seven-seat configuration. This layout offers two separate luxury bucket seats for the first two rows and a third rear row of three seats across, finished in leather. The seats of the center row are distinguished by larger, more supportive armrests. This seven-seat configuration of the LM is ideally suited for business professionals who also intend to use the vehicle for family duty transportation.