2022 Lexus LX 600 F Sport is a huge step forward
Should call it the Land Crusher. Heavily revised and with a new powerplant, the new LX 600 signifies its purpose to bombastic effect
Testing the new Lexus LX 600 on and off-road in Lone Pine.
Words and pictures by Mitchell Weitzman.
Let's address the elephant right away: this isn't a cheap vehicle. At a towering $107,585 asking price as-tested, it costs as much as four years of university for your kid. Shoot, you could put two kids through for that much! But boy oh boy is this an amazing machine. I've always had a soft spot the outgoing LX 570 for its nostalgic and indulgent charms despite being a bit of a homo robustus, but the new edition makes a case for itself on pure all-use merit.
What an interior. Not that the old one was bad, but it did suffer from a lipstick on a pig stigma of just simply having nice leather wrapped around old plastics. The new 600, however, has had a complete overhaul with updated materials everywhere, even better leather, attractive new screens (actually, two of them), and just a thoroughly modern yet classy aesthetic everywhere you look straight out of Architectural Digest. It's massively comfortable, with the LX 600 hauling four adults over 5 hours towards Mt. Whitney in complete serenity; It makes for an incredible road-trip machine.
I like the size of the LX 600, being a full-size SUV at 200" long and with a 112" wheelbase, but it's not ridiculously huge like a Suburban (the LX's wheelbase and overall length are 20 and 25 inches shorter!), and therefore makes it relatively wieldy on any road. Inside, there's enough space in the first two rows for any-sized adults, with only the third-row best reserved as a jump seat, which it did come in handy a few times for shorter trips. Oh, and did I mention the third row raises and lowers completely electronically? Yes, none of that manual labor peasantry here. And when the third-row is folded flat, there's a gratuitous amount of space to fill with suitcases or some new furniture from West Elm. An expensive Mark Levinson stereo with 25 speakers will keep your tunes pumping at all times, too, like when want to hear Darude's Sandstorm when blazing through the desert for your inevitable Instagram and TikTok posting. Another positive is an improved seating position, allowing the driver to sit lower in the car and not feel like you're operating a school bus.
What I love most about this new and improved LX is how it crushes the land beneath you, no matter the surface. Toyota might have previously sold the Land Cruiser (basically identical to the last LX 570) in the United States, but Lexus ought to call this the Land Crusher. With a new chassis underneath, this still retains the old-school body-on-frame architecture for soaring strength and purpose. What's most impressive now, perhaps, is how well behaved the big SUV is on paved roads. While the old model had slow steering that would wander around at freeway speeds, the new 600 tracks arrow-straight and with far more accuracy courtesy of an electrically assisted rack; Suddenly, it doesn't feel like a 20 year old SUV underneath! Bumps and potholes are simply obliterated, with only the harshest ones making their presence known, but for the most part, the ride is great and composed. On winding roads best suited for a Porsche GT car, the LX can carve its way through canyons like a tactical glacier that prior models had no hopes of doing. Gone also is the inevitable dread of feeling like you're going to tip over in turns. Grip isn't high of course, but the balance and willingness to change direction and handle corners at speed were profoundly surprising. Independent tests have verified that new LX 600s weigh a whopping 300 pounds less than comparable old LX 570 models, so this also makes for positive effects. Like I said, it's a great road-trip choice, but also makes for a really great vehicle to drive every day.
And then there's what happens when the road turns to dirt, or mud, or water, or ash, or sand - whatever it is - it just works. Featuring a full-time 4WD system with a rotary knob to select 4L or 4H (normal), air suspension with ride height adjustments, axle locking, and terrain selector controls, the LX 600 will get you there in style and utter comfort. Only large rocks will ultimately thwart the Lexus due to ground clearance issues and the lack of true all-terrain tires, but what is most remarkable is the ease at which it operates, and the luxury it provides while doing so. To put it into perspective, drive the Lexus on dirt roads at 50+ MPH and it rides better (and is quieter, too) than most cars do on a paved road, and it won't even wander around like a lost puppy.
On the sandier trails that surround the famous Alabama Hills near Lone Pine, the LX 600 just glides over the earth like nobody's business, without even jostling occupants over minor bumps. At one point, there was a creek with over a foot of water depth that separated a trail, and after seeing there were no rocks that would cause problems, I switched to 4L (likely completely unnecessary) and just powered through, making a wave of water that even splashed onto the windshield for a bit of fun. At one point, I aimed the Lexus up a steep dirt and uneven slope (I reckoned close to 40 degrees up), steep enough to make a friend ask, "Are you sure?" to which I didn't even respond - I wasn't about to doubt this beast! With 4L for the best crawling action and the ride height raised to the max, I just pitched it right up with the throttle on, with some low rocks and bumps being afterthoughts, and the Lexus never losing traction. Could other cars like a Subaru do it? Sure, but what makes the Lexus so outstanding is how easy tasks like this are for it, the lack of effort needed, and how comfortable passengers are when doing so. That's the power and beauty of a luxury off-roader.
New for the LX 600 is a 3.4-liter twin-turbo V6 engine, replacing the aging, but charismatic 5.7-liter V8. Horsepower is now 409 for an increase of 26, but torque is way up at 479 foot-pounds (a gain of 76), making for a flexible and efficient engine, at least on paper. Why do I say on paper? Well, there is some turbo lag here, meaning a lack of response, but once the engine is making some boost, the LX 600 is vastly quicker than before, with 0-60 MPH happening in a reasonable 6.2 seconds, about a full second quicker than a prior LX 570. The new 10-speed automatic shifts smoothly, but did notice some delays when needing to pass as it needs to shuffle from sometimes 10th gear all the way to third or fourth. But in normal driving, the transmission works superbly and also quite good on the trails as long as you keep a steady and sure throttle applied - it's only abrupt changes where you notice some delays.
For a such a space-consuming vehicle, fuel economy is actually not terrible, with 23 MPG being seen on level freeways at 72 MPH. My overall road trip economy was 20, and that included a fair bit of trail-blazing. I would expect to see a real world average of 18-19, which is a huge improvement of over 5 MPG between the old V8 model.
What can be better
It's not all good things, though, with a few quibbles here and there. The new infotainment system may be better than before, but it's not perfect. I think two screens is frankly dumb, with one for media and navigation and another for vehicle information and climate control, it just doesn't seem necessary, and especially with how close together they are. They're also not the easiest to use and the main screen is also far from a visually pretty screen with stark white backgrounds and plain graphics. Apple CarPlay does improve things, but this is a system that still needs work. I also dislike the climate controls, which are a combination of digital buttons and physical buttons weirdly. But, the biggest flaw with this design is some things you see on the screen can't be touched for adjustment, only displayed. You can digitally see your seat cooler or warmer, but you can't change it from the screen, but rather the physical switches ahead of the shifter. Just some strange choices there. The ignition button is in a strange location, too, being on the main media screen.
This being the F Sport model brings sharpened looks with the massive 22" wheels (that somehow don't look big) and such, but these choices do not make for the best choice in off-roading, with the front bumper hanging too low even with the ride height raised; A Premium model with 18"wheels and chunkier tires might be your best bet for overlanding here. But, and this is a big but, the single biggest problem with the LX 600 is the price. At $107,585 this isn't even close to being the most expensive one, with that 'privilege' being given to the Ultra Luxury trim that comes in at close to $130,000. That model only has four seats, but the rear seats do have full reclining abilities and seat massagers even. As impressive and nice as that must be, it doesn't seem like a good way to spend that much money. A full-size Range Rover starts at a similar price, but maybe more worrying is that the new GMC Yukon AT4 (their reasonably capable off-road variant) can be had for over $20,000 less. It won't come close in terms of luxury and quality, but it has to be thought of from a price perspective. Luckily, the 'base' working-class LX 600 comes in at $90,000, but c'mon, do you really want your fancy Lexus SUV in 'base' flavor?
Who cares? Because it's brilliant
Honestly, I could care less about the disappointing infotainment screens and learn to acclimate and instead marvel at the everyday breadth of talents the Lexus offers. It's supremely comfortable and luxurious and drives great on any surface. There is competition in this luxury space, more than ever, but the LX 600 makes its case in a convincing package and manner that represents a large leap for the brand.
2022 Lexus LX 600 F Sport
As-tested price: $107,585