It’s big, beautiful and built to handle brutal terrain within posh surroundings.
Unlike a majority of five-door vehicles posing as off-road warriors, the full-size 2023 Lexus LX 600 carries the Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) designation with humble pride. It’s a doer promising to forge just about any terrain thrown under it thanks to a heavy-duty body-on-frame structure. Most five-door crossovers get by with a uni-body, car-like design cozy when motoring the highway, but may find themselves in deep peril when treacherous paths impede forward progress.
How many times luxury vehicle owners actually take these vessels off-road remains up for debate. Just knowing off-road chops are aboard and available provides LX 600 owners peace of mind and bragging rights.
Lexus, the luxury arm of Toyota, introduced an all-new fourth-generation GA-F platform to its hulking three-row LX in the 2022 model year while shedding 441 pounds from its predecessor. The LX represents the Flagship choice of a half-dozen crossovers/SUVs sold by Lexus. Heavy-duty, GA-F underpinnings share family ties with the respected full-size Tundra pickup truck and the latest generation Toyota Land Cruiser SUV, returning to the U.S. showrooms in the 2024 model year after a brief hiatus. The GA-F represents one of a half-dozen platforms introduced in 2015 under the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) underpinning subsequent Toyota/Lexus products.
Expect few changes in the LX world from the 2022 Gen Four intro, save for a standard heated steering wheel and rear seat screen covers in all trims. Our F-Sport test trim now offers a unique Nori Green exterior paint specs and the Ultra-Luxury trim introduces Takanoha interior wood. Lexus christened the LX luxury yacht back in 1995.
Five available trim include: Base, Premium, F Sport, Luxury and top-tier Ultra Luxury. All power from a traditional, 3.5-liter twin turbo V-6 generating an impressive 409 horsepower mating with a 10-speed automatic transmission. Towing capacity checks in at an impressive 8,000 pounds.
The long-running 5.7-liter, naturally aspirated V-8 powertrain retired at the end of Gen three, produced 26 less horses while delivering a paltry 15 miles per gallon in combined city/highway travel and connected with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The sizeable fuel tank swallows 21.1 gallons of required premium fuel and generates a respectable 17 miles per gallon city and 22 mpg highway. As of now, no all-electric (EV), plug-in hybrid electric version (PHEV) or gas-electric hybrid vehicle (self-charging HEV) versions of LX exists. However, Toyota’s Full-size Tundra pickup offers a gas-electric hybrid version of the 3.5-liter V-6. It’s not a stretch to think this variant could make its way into future LX 600 mixes.
The Ultra Luxury trim is the first LX offering two rows of seats accommodating four riders. All other trims promote three seating rows with ample storage behind the far-flung backrest.
The F Sport brand designation has adorned Lexus products since 2007 and now makes its way to LX, but what exactly does ‘F Sport’ bring to the table? And how does F Sport differ from the ‘F’ Sub brand introduced a year earlier in 2006 by Lexus?
Historically speaking F Sport began as a line of performance accessories. By contrast, the ‘F’ sub brand delivered factory-installed performance upgrades including finer-tuned chassis and calibrated suspensions, delivering sharper, more precise handling.
The capital “F” references Japan’s Fuji Speedway where Lexus incubates and tests concepts before sending forth to the worldwide mass market. Needless to say, similar sounding ‘F’ and ‘F Sport’ created confusion among performance-minded shoppers and those entrusted to explain the automotive sector. Lines started blurring between F Sport and F during the subsequent 15 years.
In 2021, Lexus finer tuned F Sport accessories and the F sub brand, merging the two and creating four F levels or tiers: F Sport (Design), F Sport (Handling), F Sport (Performance) and just plain F. Think of F as the highest performing of the quad adorning track-ready brakes, advanced aerodynamics and lighter weight materials.
Fast forward a couple years, and our 2023 LX 600 F Sport (Handling) tester includes adaptive suspension delivering confidence-inspired cornering and responsiveness. Also unique to F Sport, Torsen-type limited slip differential and a rear stabilizer help keep the SUV level and folks planted in their leather seats during sharp turns. Front and rear performance dampers receive specialized tunning. All providing a comfortable, yet floaty on-road highway ride.
The LX 600 starts at $89,165 with our mid-grade F-Sport tester registering a $102,025 intro price point. After factoring in an advanced 25-speaker sound system ($2,660) premium exterior paint ($595), carpeted floor mats ($150), illuminated dash sill ($475), Lexus dash cam ($375) and Adventure Package ($875), the bottom line stretched to $108,465 including the $1,345 destination charge.
All Lexus products include the hour-glass-like, sinched in the middle center spindle grille. The LX introduces a three-dimensional effect in 2022 made up of seven horizontal floating bars and frameless boundary on several trims. It’s also functional as narrow slots between bars serve to air cool the twin turbo V-6 although our tester utilized an F-Sport grille with a black diamond-shaped repeating pattern which some insist reflects a repeating F pattern (just don’t see it).
Flanking the hourglass, narrow headlight housing with three LED bejeweled bulbs underscored by a swath of daytime running light haze and an amber turn signal highlight line. The hatch door sports a light bar extending horizontally end to end with checkmark, or L type styling, at each end. As with the front, amber turn signal indicators add support underneath the Ls.
Static running board assists with entry and exit as does three settings for vehicle height while in motion and a fourth lower level used when entering/exiting. All LX trims get anchored by 22-inch wheels, the largest ever offered by Lexus, with F Sport (Handling) wheels forging aluminum styling.
The handsome interior includes a dashboard putting on quite a visual showcase with three front-row screens Including the all-digital instrument panel. The LX earns distinction as the first Lexus offering two, center screens, both of which include touch sensibility; the top flat screen, extends beyond the dashboard top in rectangular fashion, measuring 12.3 inches and the in-dash bottom screen sizes in at seven inches. A four-camera network visually assists drivers through the top screen with real-time terrain conditions when off roading.
The larger top screen also boasts a top left-side volume knob and electronic start-stop button below, a better ignition circle location than lower down on the dash where the power steering column could interfere with direct contact. Flanking the in-dash screen, diminutive vertical air vents with horizontal vents at each corner of the upper dash. Our tester included a two-tone red/black color scheme on seats, doors and dash.
Thankfully, LX retired the cumbersome ‘remote touch interface’ when the curtain fell on Generation Three with its clunky wiggle pad between front buckets controlling a very nervous in-screen curser. The larger top touch screen handles audio, navigation and Smartphone selections. The lower in-dash screen handles/illustrates many HVAC functions including fan speed and direction, with dual front temperature settings selected outside the screen via up-down toggle buttons. Two rows of pushbuttons below monitor A/C and front/rear defrosters.
The center column continues downward with three rectangular buttons below flanked by two large dials. This region supplies many commands needed when off-roading with the right tactile dial electronically selecting between four-wheel low and four-high with a flick of the wrist. The left dial offers up drive a multitude of mode selections. The three interior buttons include multi terrain select (MTS), crawl control and downhill assist control (DAC).
The MTS offers six off-road driving modes while crawl control offers five modes exclusive to the off-road low setting. The DAC allows drivers to maneuver downhill without foot traffic as the brake pedal automatically engages with zero human input.
Off-road and HVAC information gets visually reinforced within the lower, in-dash screen. Sometimes, natural reflexes confuse these two large tactile dials flanking the screen for audio control twist knobs, but that’s easily overcome with secondary sound and station select buttons on the steering wheel face.
All four side entrances include access to ceiling handles as well as grab bars on the inside A and B pillars helping with entry and exit along with height-adjustable suspension. The large storage bin/arm rest between front buckets includes a bi-hinged design, opening either from the left or right side allowing both front passengers easy access. Just ahead resides a flat, wireless charge pad to simplify and speed along charging. Ahead of the flat pad, a rather diminutive automatic transmission shifter with left-side thumb trigger. Also nearby, older-school Type A and C plug ports for tether charging Smartphones. To the far right, inline beverage holders.
In back, the power liftgate provides plenty of head clearance when open. This region includes side buttons raising and lowering row three’s 50/50- split seatbacks, expanding cargo opportunities when lowered. Third row power backrest buttons are also found within the interior B pillars, providing three locations to lower the boom.
Maneuvering into the two-person third row simplifies due to LX’s wide side doors and girth. Split 40/20/40 second row bench backs easily and manually fold down, after which the entire unit tumbles forward, creating an ample walkway. Those taller than six feet and/or those with lacky legs may find head and knee room lacking. Row three welcomes pre-teens and tweens with Smartphone power plug ports and power adjustable backrests.
Lexus covers most powertrains with a 72-month 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. 2023 Lexus LX 600
Price as tested: $108,465
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