“There’s some mud on the trail. Don’t feel like you need to avoid it.” That’s not the typical sort of instruction you get when a car manufacturer sends you off in their $130,000 luxury SUV....but the Lexus LX has never been your typical luxury SUV.
After all, when you get past the top hat and tails, at its core, the LX is a badass, trail-ready Toyota Land Cruiser. Last year, Toyota redesigned the Land Cruiser for the first time since the Bush administration. We aren’t getting that new model in America — at least, not with Toyota badging. Luckily, we are still getting its snazzier sibling: the 2022 Lexus LX 600.
Lexus invited us to New Mexico to drive their new flagship LX both on and off-road (and later loaned me an LX to drive around for a week in Michigan). The big, friendly dinosaur of yore is now a svelte, sophisticated and remarkably efficient Toyota truck. And somehow, it managed to get even glitzier.
The LX is Lexus’s largest full-size, body-on-frame SUV. The previous model was the LX 570, the number representing its engine displacement (5.7 liters). LX 600 signifies that it’s an advancement over the departing 570 model, even though the number no longer correlates to the motor's size. (Its internal designation is J300, because it's a rebadged version of the J300 Toyota Land Cruiser.)
Affirmative. The LX is all-new for the first time since 2007, and it brings some big-time changes. Lexus migrated the LX to the Toyota New Global Architecture truck platform (TNGA-F). The new LX abandons the tried, true and markedly inefficient 5.7-liter V8 engine for a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6.
It also receives some major modernizations for the interior. And, yes, the Lexus LX now supports Apple CarPlay.
Well, the Land Cruiser is special — and the LX has always been special because it’s a Land Cruiser. There just aren’t that many vehicles where you can cart the kids to school, climb a mountain without breaking a sweat and then have your driver chauffeur you into work in sublime comfort. By joining the 2020s, the new LX 600 has the chance to go beyond being a placeholder and become a true flagship for the Lexus brand.
Yes. During the last generation, you chose between a two-row or three-row LX. This time around, Lexus offers more variety and goes further upmarket. There are five trims — LX, LX Premium, LX F Sport Handling, LX Luxury and LX Ultra Luxury. Lexus thinks the three middle trims will make up about 90% of LX sales.
LX F Sport Handling is an on-road performance trim with an F Sport-tuned suspension, performance dampers, a limited-slip differential and a rear stabilizer bar. It also gets Hadori aluminum trim instead of open-pore wood. Ultra Luxury is a fully-loaded four-seater chauffeur-spec model, where the prime seat is the massaging rear passenger side with extra legroom. (Lexus, alas, does not offer the LX Offroad trim available in Japan here.)
Yes. For now, Lexus is only offering the LX 600 in the States with a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6. The new engine bumps the fuel efficiency up from 14 mpg combined to 19 mpg, a 36% improvement.
Per Lexus, the decision came down to the R&D budget, which could accommodate two engines. Lexus sells the LX in 50 markets, some of which require a diesel. As a result, the LX does not get the iForce Max hybrid Toyota uses in the new Tundra...but Lexus did not rule out the LX getting that at some point.
It’s excellent. The LX 600 delivers the classic LX experience — looking out over a hood scoop a small adult could curl up in and wondering why all the roads are so narrow — without the drawbacks you had in years past.
“Lexus LX, three and a half” does not have quite the same ring to it, but the new 3.5-liter V6 engine is a comprehensive upgrade. It’s much more powerful, bumping the truck up to 409 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque, from 383 hp and 403 lb-ft. And it’s even smoother and quieter than the old one, thanks in part to the 10-speed automatic. I didn't experience a coarse note or an ill-considered shift over an entire day of driving.
A stiffer chassis than before offers dramatically better body control. And unlike past Land Cruiser generations that have packed on the insulation, the LX 600 is about 440 pounds lighter than the outgoing model. The combined result of all that is a car that maneuvers deftly (even in tight spaces) and accelerates far less glacially.
I drove two versions on-road, the F Sport Handling and the Ultra Luxury. I wasn’t a huge fan of the F Sport Handling. It looks cool, but it felt a bit too jittery on bumpy pavement. Even though it also rode on 22-inch wheels, the Ultra Luxury felt more tuned for comfort with its adaptive variable suspension. And hey, comfort is why you buy a Lexus LX.
The LX 600 is not a rock crawler — you don’t want to smash up that prominent grille — but it lives up to the Land Cruiser pedigree. It’s exceedingly competent for the off-road situations most buyers will use it for.
I drove the Ultra Luxury trim on two trails: a relatively mild mountain ridge and a flat, bumpy ranch road. The LX 600 was overkill for the ridge road; its outstanding crawl control system makes ascents and descents a breeze, and the Turn Assist is easy-to-use and pulls you around seemingly impossibly sharp angles. You get impressive flex and articulation. Plus, the Ultra Luxury comes standard with Active Height Control to provide additional ground clearance. Higher-speed flat trails are where Toyota trucks shine, and the LX had no problem getting its wheels dirty.
The LX 600 delivers your customary Lexus luxury — sumptuous semi-aniline leather and open-pore wood. For the new LX, rocketed its technology forward from the 2000s to the state-of-the-art 2020s. The LX went from having a CD player and no CarPlay to wireless CarPlay and Android Auto.
The center console feels modernized, but very busy. You have a 12.3-inch touchscreen with Lexus Interface, then a second screen with buttons for controlling the climate, and then more off-road controls and whatnot below that. It’s neither as elegant nor intuitive as the new 14-inch screen setup in the NX. I resorted to yelling “Hey, Lexus” at the voice control system when I wanted to do something. It worked well enough, except when I gave up trying to say “Bandelier National Monument” and typed it on the screen.
The LX 600 doors are a bit wonky. There’s a large grab handle between you and the window and mirror controls. So, to lower the window or adjust the mirrors, you must twist your wrist counterclockwise around the bar and then, somehow, flatten back out to approach the controls at a suboptimal angle. And that’s something you’ll do almost every time you enter the vehicle.
Also, note that the LX provides a spacious seven seats or a capacious trunk, but not both at the same time. If those seats are up, you have no trunk.
The Lexus LX 600 starts about where the LX 570 did, at $88,245. Most buyers will end up spending more than that. But Lexus doesn't gouge you with options the way some rivals do. The LX F Sport Handling I drove priced out to $105,005 with the Mark Levinson sound system ($2,660). The Ultra Luxury I drove came out to $127,940, with the only option being an extra $595 for premium Manganese Luster paint.
I would opt for the LX Premium trim ($96,345), which is one level up from the base model. You get a lot more of the tech you want, most notably the adaptive variable suspension. The tech you get bumping up to LX Luxury is mostly superficial. And I suspect the ride would be even more cushy on 20-inch rims instead of the 22s I drove. You can upgrade to the Mark Levinson stereo system at LX Premium. The only real drawback is not getting the active ride height adjustment, which is only standard on the Ultra Luxury.
There isn’t really a precise rival for the Lexus LX. But the LX buyer is probably cross-shopping with flagship unibody crossovers like the Mercedes GLS ($77,200), BMW X7 ($74,900) and the Range Rover ($104,000), which is also all-new. You could also throw in American luxury barges like the Cadillac Escalade ($76,295), Lincoln Navigator ($76,710) and Jeep Grand Wagoneer ($88,440) as well as the Infiniti QX80 ($70,600).
Lexus loaned me an LX 600 to drive around as my family car for a week in Michigan. Prolonged exposure sparked no second-guessing. The Lexus LX 600 is still one of our best new vehicles of 2022. And it’s still the plush luxury SUV I would buy.
The LX 600 is a dramatic upgrade from its predecessor on the road. It’s quicker. It’s nimbler. It’s remarkably more efficient. And hustling it around a tight corner no longer feels like a low-grade arm workout. It achieved that enhancement without sacrificing the LX’s main attribute: comfort. The ride quality is excellent — though I would opt for the smaller wheels in a non-F-Sport Handling trim to enhance that. And the interior brings the hygge.
The LX is the optimal car to pick up your kids from school on a crisp, 30-degree day. Our tree guys drove that point home to me when they blocked it in the driveway, and I had to take my achingly cold VW to grab my kids instead.
The biggest difference between the curated experience out West and real life in the Midwest is grappling with how large the LX 600 is. Even in car-accommodating Michigan, the LX’s length and girth make the parking experience slightly more considered and stressful. I unconsciously sought out less stressful spaces. And I ended up in a stand-off at a tight parking lot entrance with a Ram 1500.
Powertrain: Twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6; 10-speed-automatic; Full-time 4x4
Torque: 479 lb-ft
EPA Fuel Economy: 17 mpg city, 22 mpg highway
Max Towing: 8,000 lbs
Seats: 4, 5 or 7
What we know so far about the most-eagerly-awaited midsize truck.