Used to be that if you wanted a luxury automobile – especially one to be chauffeured around in – your choices were basically limited to a sedan. It could be bigger or smaller, more or less expensive, depending on your needs and budget, but it was always going to have four doors and a trunk. But these days the rich and famous are looking elsewhere for their commodious forms of pampering transportation. There are, of course, the crossovers and SUVs, which only seem to be getting bigger and more expensive thanks to the likes of the Mercedes-Benz G-Class, Range Rover L and upcoming Bentley sport-ute. But luxury vans are becoming the new big thing.

That's the point that one dealer in Japan is trying to make to Toyota. The dealership owner himself reasons that if he's going out on the town, he's likely to take his chauffeured Lexus LS. But if he's taking a few friends along, even the biggest sedan isn't going to cut it. So he takes a Toyota Alphard (pictured above, also known as the Vellfire), a JDM van that's even bigger than a Voxy/Noah or Sienna but hardly a high-end affair. That's why he's asking Lexus to make a luxury van.

The idea may seem a little far-fetched, but isn't without precedent. It didn't take much for Lexus to transform the Land Cruiser into the LX and thus create its first luxury SUV. And as Mercedes has shown with pimped-out versions of the Sprinter and now with the debut of the new V-Class in Geneva, there's clearly a market for it... in some countries, anyway. The only question in our minds is how long it's going to take other luxury automakers to catch on, because let's face it: the Chrysler Town & Country ain't gonna cut it for those used to be driven around in a Maybach.



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  • 46 Comments
      Matthew Fensterwald
      • 9 Months Ago
      Smash lots of tech into it, make it a plug in, and they will make tons of money off the soccer moms.
      Ryan
      • 9 Months Ago
      With how you can spec out a Sienna, I am wondering what else the Lexus could offer? I think it's a law of diminishing returns, the amount of people that need a "luxury" van above and beyond the Sienna isn't worth the investment. Plus, it has been mentioned that both the Odyssey and Sienna at the highest levels are equivalent to Acura and Lexus in terms of technology and features.
        owen brown
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Ryan
        I agree 100% .There is very little you could do to our limited Sienna to differentiate it from a Lexus.
        kmac1036
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Ryan
        the minivan segment is way overpriced as it is, no way would I buy one to begin with let alone pay over top of that for a Lexus logo to boot.
      Willy
      • 9 Months Ago
      They already got them in Asia and Europe. Seen luxury vans customized by their clients from specialized shops. Pretty nice on the inside, unsuspectious outside. And more room than a Rolls Royce!
      ctsmith1066
      • 9 Months Ago
      Why not. Something like this would do very well in East Asia. You see so many chauffeur vans in Hong Kong; I'm sure a decent number of riders would prefer something more lux. Now, if only China and Japan could defuse their little Cold War, Lexus would have a hit on their hands.
        chanonissan
        • 9 Months Ago
        @ctsmith1066
        You might not know, but these vans already have leather seats, DVD ETC, the only thing toyota could put in it would probably be the markvision radio, and put on the lexus badge.
      Richard
      • 9 Months Ago
      This would sell like hotcakes where I live (Northeastern QueensNY)
      SethG
      • 9 Months Ago
      This is a huge question for luxury makers and there's no reason to believe they're not all struggling with it. All you need to do is look in the driveways of BMW, Lexus, Audi, etc. owners and see how often there's a heavily-optioned Odyssey or Sienna or Town & Country parked right next to the luxury car. There is a huge market of people who would love to pay a premium price for a luxury minivan. So why doesn't this car exist? Because minivans carry a stigma that could hurt the image of a luxury brand. The luxury minivan will sell great but what will it do to the brand's ability to sell sports sedans, 6-figure cars, etc? So far nobody's been willing to roll the dice on this one. If anyone can do it, you'd bet it would be Lexus. They have a decent starting point with the Sienna that is available with AWD. They have a history of being the first luxury brand to dip their toes in a new segment as they did with the RX to tremendous success. Also, the timing is probably right as all the luxury makes are taking risks by moving into segments that are new for luxury automakers. Look at all the new FWD compact sedans and B segment cars. It's probably a good time for a luxury automaker to take a stab at a minivan.
        chanonissan
        • 9 Months Ago
        @SethG
        Toyota do have a 4wd siennna, but nissan also have 4wd minivan in japan, so toyota is not at any advantage, when you talk about dip in water the nissan Elgrand and serena out sell toyota minivans in Japan. Toyota mini van is more efficient then nissan in the usa, in japan nissan minvans are more efficient. You see Japan and USA are two different market. this video show an older model Elgrand with 4WD http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrkCOpxWaKQ
      Jonathan
      • 9 Months Ago
      Yeah, why not? The R class sold really well...
      Jason
      • 9 Months Ago
      I think that there is likely a market for a premium minivan in the US, whether it is a Lexus, Acura, MB, or another. Lexus' capabilities with the Sienna as a base vehicle to work from would make them a likely source if anyone would have the guts to move ahead with one.
      chanonissan
      • 9 Months Ago
      the Japan minivans look more better than the USA models, look at this toyota Alphard and look at the nissan Elgrand which the Quest base off. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:NISSAN_ELGRAND_E52_Highway_Star.JPG
        kmac1036
        • 9 Months Ago
        @chanonissan
        I'll ignore the grammar issues (I'm no master myself ;) but seriously??? the ugliest thing on the road made worse!
          Firefly
          • 9 Months Ago
          @kmac1036
          Typical American mindset...
          kmac1036
          • 9 Months Ago
          @kmac1036
          fine firefly go buy it & spend all your $ on it make yourself happy. I'll drive what I drive that fits me & doesn't look like this awful vehicle.
      pickles
      • 9 Months Ago
      It's money on the table. Affluent families will do whatever they can to cart their kids in comfort, style and safety. I actually can't believe Volvo has missed this opportunity for so long. For those who think the R-Class was a minivan- it wasn't it was a gargantuan wagon. I shopped it as I wanted something premium for my business van. The space inside was a joke for the largess of the footprint. The 'luxury' was casual at best in the MB, (lousy nav, rare heated seats, no backup camera.. etc). The Sienna XLE was about the same price (I went used) and vastly more premium, despite the brand.
      Karfreek
      • 9 Months Ago
      The US market already has a Luxury van, it's called the Honda Odyssey Touring Elite.
        _I_I_II_I_I_
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Karfreek
        no idea why people are downvoting this, take a look at the vehicle people.
      Matt Frawley
      • 9 Months Ago
      It is lot of waste money for luxury minivan. I am sick and tired of it.
        Firefly
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Matt Frawley
        I guess a luxury off-roader makes just as much sense, right?
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