Side-by-sides come in all shapes and sizes, but we’ve never seen one like the Lexus ROV concept. For one, it’s a Lexus; the firm is not a big player in the side-by-side segment. It’s as luxurious as the badge on its nose suggests, and it’s powered by a hydrogen-burning engine.
Lexus explained that the ROV (an acronym that stands for Recreational Off-highway Vehicle) is its “response to the growing passion for the outdoors and adventurous spirit of luxury consumers.” It also illustrates the brand’s wish to design lifestyle-oriented products, and it showcases the engineering department’s research into new technologies. The ROV stretches 322 inches long, 68 inches wide and 71 inches wide. And, while it doesn’t wear a giant spindle grille, it falls in line with the Lexus design language thanks to angular body panels.
Inside, the ROV offers a pair of seats with harnesses and suspension elements to filter out bumps, carbon fiber accents and a relatively simple instrument cluster with an analog tachometer and a digital display. Lexus notes that the “Tazuna” approach to interior design that has shaped most of its recent concept cars permeated the ROV, meaning the cabin is human-centric. Interestingly, it also points out that the ROV meets the same quietness, durability, and reliability standards as the regular-production cars it sells, which is no small feat.
Power comes from a direct-injected 1.0-liter engine that burns compressed hydrogen stored in a tank. Lexus didn’t publish technical details so we don’t know how much horsepower or torque the engine makes. Its cylinder count wasn’t even published, though zooming in on the exhaust manifold confirms that it’s a three-cylinder. It’s likely not a coincidence that parent company Toyota tested a hydrogen-powered Corolla race car powered by a 1.0-liter hydrogen-burning triple earlier in 2021. That engine was turbocharged, however; this one is not.
Looking at the center console reveals the ROV is equipped with a two-speed transfer case and locking differentials, so it should be capable off the beaten path. Lexus also tells us its first side-by-side offers users a large amount of suspension travel.
Is this purely theoretical, or is Lexus serious about taking on Polaris? We’ve asked, and we’ll update this story if we learn more.