The Lexus LX sport utility vehicle is built to go just about anywhere while wrapped in Lexus comfort and quiet. It’s a low-volume vessel not fitting every budget as pricing starts in the low $80,000s and ticks up close to $130,000 when optioned out. Still, it continues as one of the longest-serving Lexus SUVs, on the road since 1996 and in 2022 builds upon an all-new GA-F platform. As with generations past, four-wheel drive comes standard.
Sales in the pandemic-laden 2021 model year reached 3,563 in the U.S, down about 20 percent from the previous year. Historically, sales rarely top 6,000 units annually but with a bottom line reaching six figures, customer satisfaction takes priority over volume. By comparison, the mid-size RX crossover topped 115,000 U.S. sales units in 2021. As of August 2021, more than a half-million LX units sold worldwide since its inception.
Don’t let good looks fool anybody, this beast is built for hard-nosed off-road play. A sturdy body-on-frame truck-like structure returns in the new fourth-generation effort. Most five-door hatchbacks have migrated to a more pedestrian, car-like, gentler uni-body structure. Benefits of a body-on-frame build include decent towing numbers and ultimate off-road travel.
Both towing and fuel economy numbers increase in 2022 while overall weight reduces by 441 pounds while welcoming improved body rigidity adding to its deftness in handling. Wheelbase (distance between front and rear axle) remains unchanged from the previous generation at 112 inches and little changed from 1996. The new platform also underpins parent company Toyota’s hearty full-size Tundra pickup truck.
The 2022 model year marks the first time in LX history V-6 power takes center stage. All previous years a naturally-aspirated (non turbo-charged) V-8 entry provided potency. The newly added 3.5-liter twin turbo generates more than 400 horsepower (409 to be exact) and connects with a 10-speed automatic transmission.
It recommends premium 91-octane fuel for optimal performance when refilling the 21.1-gallon tank. Fuel economy dramatically improves from the former V8’s 13 miles per gallon city and 18 mpg highway, now at 17 city and 22 highway with towing capabilities up 1,000 pounds.
As of this writing, no lower-emissions, alternative-powered hybrid-electric, plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) or all-electric versions are yet proposed for this LX generation.
A few domestic rivals add an extended “L” version with a dozen or so more inches of length. Lexus is just fine with one huge opportunity.
The posh LX was always a proud sibling of Toyota’s rugged and just-as-massive Land Cruiser, but Toyota quietly retired Land Cruiser from the U.S. market after the close of the 2021 model year. Plans remain in the works for a Land Cruiser replacement, most likely, boasting a twin turbo V-6.
For the past decade or so, Lexus began transitioning to its can’t-miss spindle grille onto all its offerings. Most incorporate a diamond-like or checkered fill inside. The LX 600 opts for seven horizontal chrome-like narrow rectangles building from top to bottom sporting different lengths matching the hourglass-like frame. Pinching the grille’s waist; narrow headlight housings consisting of three bejeweled LED bulbs and underside eyeliner combining the effects of daylight running lights with amber blinkers during turns. In the back, a narrow band of red LED lighting stretches end to end with a neon-type effect at night, a design borrowed from the compact 2022 NX crossover.
Wheel wells incorporate a squared, not round design with the upper rear roof also squared, not curved contributing to a stable, tall-standing presence. Lexus LX provides 7.8 inches of ground clearance, presenting drivers with good road perceptions in all directions.
Standard “Active Height Control” (AHC) Suspension returns but with welcome upgrades. This system allows vehicle height adjustment with an expanded array of height positions. Previous generations employed shock absorbers along with gas, hydraulic and metal springs monitoring front wheels. This new system adds rear-wheel activation as well, reducing the time needed to height adjust. A pair of vertically-arranged buttons (along with electronic brake and traction control deactivation) near the vertically sliding automatic transmission grab shifter between front buckets activates the up and down AHC motion.
Three settings work while the vehicle is in motion (Normal, Hi1 and Hi2). A ‘Low’ setting performs duties when stopped for easier ingress and egress. It was a welcome perk as a triaged spouse, recovering simultaneously from knee replacement surgery and a twice-broken shoulder, used this benefit along with the static side running boards and A-Pillar interior grab handles to successfully maneuver in and out of the hulking LX 600 with minimal sweet.
This next-generation LX 600 counts five trim levels including a first-time F-Sport (available in other Lexus models) and Ultra-Luxury (specific to LX). Completing the selections: Standard, Premium and Luxury.
Our Nori Green ‘Ultra Luxury’ trim arrives ‘as is,’ loaded with every available perk and a $126,000 window sticker. A few minor dealer add-ons raised the bottom line to $128,030 after the obligatory $1,345 destination fee representing the hands-down cream-of-the-crop selection.
The Ultra-Luxury trim is the first LX exclusively designed for carting four riders (no more) in optimal comfort with ‘VIP Seating’ in row two and no third-row. For those seeking to haul weekend goods from the corner Big Box store, look elsewhere. This specific trim includes permanent, non-removable, non-forward folding second row chairs.
Entry Standard trims also come with two rows of seating standard. Middle trims (Premium, F-Sport, Luxury) include folding third-row seating.
Once inside the new Ultra-Luxury trim, seating materials in all four positions wrap within a black, semi-aniline leather, combining comfort and support. The steering wheel is covered in similar fashion.
Including the all-digital instrument panel, this latest LX counts three front-row screens with the two center varieties touch sensitive; the top version measuring 12.3 inches and the in-dash bottom at seven inches. The LX thankfully retired the cumbersome ‘remote touch interface’ with a clunky wiggle pad between front buckets controlling an on-screen curser. However, the two touchscreens take time to master.
The larger flat-back screen extends up from the mid-section and offers navigation, audio functions and a Multi-Terrain Monitor useful when scrambling off-road thanks to four cameras allowing the driver to view completely around the vehicle. The in-dash down-below screen includes two large tactile knobs with the left orb selecting one of six drive modes. Each mode selected changes instrument panel graphics. The right-side orb works four-wheel drive settings.
The top flat screen includes a single knob controlling on/off/volume, with no tuning mate in sight, although an electric push-button start/stop button locates below, up and away from the steering column. The steering wheel/column powers up and in as the vehicle shuts off, allowing easier driver exit.
Between row two’s power-operated VIP seating is a touch screen command center reminiscent of the Starship Enterprise (Starships rarely are this comforting). The screen is accessible from both rear seats with top-row icons commanding one of six sub-choices. Options include several levels of comforting massages as backrests gently power back for a slumber-inducing good time; heating and cooling is included. ‘VIP Seating,’ is not dissimilar to circa 2022 multiplex theatre chairs with adjoining cupholders.
The right-side VIP Seat includes a footrest extension jetting out from under the front shotgun seat. The entire shotgun chair first motives and tilts forward, while the corresponding inline VIP Seatback moves lower so pampered occupants better enjoy the sensation. Both rear seating positions have access to flat screens mounted onto the headrests of the seats ahead for movie or game selection.
Lexus covers most powertrains with a 72 moths or 70,000-mile warranty, longer than some rivals and that of its sister-division Toyota. The basic new-car warranty also rates above average with a 48-month 50,000-mile time horizon. Complimentary maintenance service at a Lexus dealer gets covered for the first two visits at six-and-twelve-month intervals.
2022 Lexus LX 600
Price as tested: $128,030
Engine: 3.5-liter V-6 twin turbo
Wheelbase: 112.2 inches
Overall Length: 200.5 inches
Overall Width: 66.1 inches
Overall Height: 74.6 inches
Curb Weight: 5,945 pounds
Fuel Economy: 17 mpg city/22 mpg highway
Powertrain warranty: six years/70,000 miles