Premium large SUV; Built in Japan
  • 4-door wagon
  • longitudinal front-engine/4-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $5,800 – $7,800*

1997 Lexus LX 450

1997 Lexus LX 450

1996 Lexus LX 450 interior

1996 Lexus LX 450

1996 Lexus LX 450

  • Antilock brakes
  • Cargo room
  • Passenger room
  • Entry/exit
  • Fuel economy
  • Ride

When new, an LX 450 cost some $7000 more than its Toyota Land Cruiser counterpart. Quite a premium to pay for the prestige of the Lexus name and the more attentive service expected from a Lexus dealer. Secondhand prices don’t differ quite so much.


Essentially a dressed-up version of the Toyota Land Cruiser, the Lexus rendition debuted early in 1996 to compete against the growing number of upscale sport-utility vehicles. Like the Land Cruiser, the LX 450 was a 4-door wagon with a 212-horsepower, 4.5-liter twin-cam 6-cylinder engine, 4-speed automatic transmission, and permanently engaged 4-wheel drive. Dual airbags and antilock brakes were standard. According to Lexus, the LX 450 combined “luxury car convenience with superior on/off-road performance.”

Appearance differences from the Land Cruiser included the grille, headlamps, wheels, and exterior trim. Befitting its upscale target audience, the LX 450 also contained a softer suspension, standard leather upholstery, wood interior trim, automatic climate control, and a premium stereo system.

Seating for seven was standard, including two front buckets, a 3-place bench in the middle, and two folding rear seats. Only three options were available: a power moonroof, CD changer, and locking differentials. Principal rivals included the Range Rover, Acura SLX (itself a dolled-up Isuzu Trooper), and top-line versions of the Ford Explorer and Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Yearly Updates

1997 LX 450
Nothing changed much in the Lexus SUV’s second season, which was destined to be its last. Lexus did not leave the sport-utility market, however. Instead, it redesigned the SUV for 1998, dropped in a different engine, and renamed it the LX 470. By 1997, another competitor had appeared: the Infiniti QX4, from Nissan’s luxury division–a higher-level variant of the Pathfinder.


longitudinal front-engine/4-wheel drive

Only one powertrain was available: a 4.5-liter, dual-overhead-cam inline 6-cylinder engine rated at 212 horsepower, driving a 4-speed automatic transmission.

dohc I6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.5/275
Engine HP 212
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 275
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic



Road Test

As with Toyota’s version, acceleration with the 6-cylinder engine is adequate, but fuel economy ranks as dismal. A test LX 450 averaged a miserable 11 mpg in a mix of city, suburban, and highway driving–markedly below the EPA rating.

Although the softer suspension irons out road bumps better than the Land Cruiser can manage, this abundantly sized vehicle feels heavy, even ponderous. It doesn’t even approach the cushy ride of a Lexus sedan, and definitely does not ease past every pavement imperfection.

With more sound insulation than a Land Cruiser, the LX 450 suffers less road noise and feels more isolated from the outside world. The huge interior offers bountiful passenger and cargo room. Simulated wood trim and standard aromatic leather help give it a luxury feel. On the down side, getting in and out is a chore because the vehicle sits so high off the ground.


Model Tested: 1997 Lexus LX 450

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 4
Fuel Economy - 2
Ride Quality - 6
Steering/Handling - 4
Quietness - 5


Controls/Materials - 5
Room/Comfort Front - 5
Room/Comfort Rear - 4
Cargo Room - 7


Value - 3

Total: 45


4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
112.2 189.8 76.0 73.6
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
90.9 25.1 7
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
40.3 39.7 41.7 32.8
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: N/A


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Front Passenger Injury - N/A

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Dashboard lights
Description: The check-engine light may come on indicating a problem with the evaporate-control system which is fixed by replacing several vacuum hoses. (1997)
Description: Problems with the radio-antenna ground connection corroding causes static, especially on AM stations.
Transmission noise
Description: The automatic transmission makes a clattering noise when shifted into neutral or park from reverse requiring a special check-ball to be installed in the valve body. (1997)
Electrical problem
Description: Using the wrong cigarette lighter or accessory plug can easily damage the socket.
Check-engine light
Description: The check-engine light may come on because of a problem with the fuel vapor emissions system. (1996-97)

Recall History

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.

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