Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: June 6, 2022
Luxury three-row SUVs are more popular than ever with competitors like the Cadillac Escalade, Lincoln Navigator, Jeep Grand Wagoneer, BMW X7, and the Range Rover all fighting for a piece of the lucrative pie. And it’s not just the sales charts that tell the story, it’s the fact that every one of the SUVs we mentioned has recently been refreshed with larger platforms, more efficient powertrains, and modern sheetmetal. But many forget that Lexus also has their skin in the game too, with the LX 600.
New from the ground up for 2022, the Lexus LX 600 now sits on the same platform as the Toyota Tundra, and it retains its conventional ladder frame for proper durability and off-roading chops. Unlike its competitors though, the LX’s dimensions haven’t changed or swollen at all, keeping the same wheelbase but crucially, it has shed weight with better distribution of it across the platform, which has also allowed for improved interior packaging.
The Toyota Land Cruiser, which the LX is based upon, is forbidden fruit here in Canada. In its first three generations, the LX was pretty much a lux’ed up variant of the Land Cruiser, simply lathered in better leather and wood veneers. This fourth-generation LX tries to extend that disparity a little more with edgier sheetmetal and a massive front grill. The F Sport grill we had on our test vehicle slims down the front end significantly to appear sleeker and more compact, while the standard seven-slat grill is much more imposing on the road. The taillights and the full-width light bar are sourced from the redesigned NX SUV, but it does little to mask its old bones. Overall, the LX 600 is still a chunky SUV with bulbous shoulders and a substantial rear end, and it lacks the sophisticated lines and smooth contours offered by the new Range Rover or Cadillac Escalade.
The LX 600 comes in four distinct trims, Premium, Luxury, Executive VIP, and F Sport, each offering a slightly different persona. The F Sport ($13,000) that we are driving is actually the second cheapest option. It adds semi-aniline leather seats, 22-inch wheels, a 25-speaker Mark Levinson audio system, and a torque-sensing limited-slip differential for sportier handling.
The more upscale Luxury Package ($20,250) focuses on amenities and creature comforts like a head-up display, leather and wood steering wheel, soft closing doors, and a dual rear-seat entertainment system. But what truly elevates the LX 600 into the competitive sphere is the Executive VIP Package ($44,250). For the price of a new MINI Countryman, it adds on the full rear-seat experience with contoured headrests, rear seat massage and seat ventilation, semi-aniline leather on all surfaces, and a reclined first-class seating position. The third row of seats is also removed for a more spacious rear cabin. In all, it’s a similar configuration to the LS 500 Sedan.
The powertrain has also been upgraded in the name of efficiency. The 5.7-litre V8 is replaced by a twin-turbocharged 3.5-litre V6 producing 409 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque. It’s the same one powering the Toyota Tundra and Lexus LS 500. That’s 26 hp and 76 lb-ft more than the V8, and it runs that output through a 10-speed automatic transmission via a four-wheel-drive system with adjustable low and high ranges.
We don’t miss the V8 at all. There were a few instances on the highway, where we had to hammer down the gas pedal for some overtaking manuevers, and the V6 just seemed to feel a tad lethargic. But once woken up, the rush of torque was more than enough to get this land yacht moving. It just never felt, shall we say, energetic. At low speeds it’s fine. The 10-speed works well in tandem with the V6 to keep itself in the meaty area of the powerband, whilst also reaching for top gear when it senses efficiency is the best route. Overall, it’s a strong unit with palpable strength to motivate the LX’s giant footprint, and we averaged an impressive 13.8 L/100km over a mix of both city and highway driving as well, one of the best yields for a three-row SUV. The LX requires 91-octane fuel though, so keep that in mind when budgeting.
And it’s an incredibly quiet and refined engine at that, barely making any noise as it transitions between gears and chugs along behind the scenes unnoticed - exactly what you want. Furthermore, the cabin insulation is very effective, shutting out most of the discernible tire and wind noise. Lexus even made an effort to make all the cabin touch points as silent as possible - windows roll down in a soft gentle manner, and even the signal stalks emit a calming ASMR-like click.
The LX begins to feel more truck-like the moment you turn the wheel. There is a new electric power steering system that replaces the outgoing hydraulic setup, so it’s much lighter to rotate, takes less effort, and is more user-friendly for those who don’t have forearms the size of Hercules. But the LX is just not as well-heeled and versed around negotiating pockmarked roads as the nimbler X7 or GLS. It heaves and pitches with gusto when braking or accelerating hard, but the F Sport model we tested corners quite well and allows you to put the power down early thanks to the limited-slip differential. Be that as it may, the LX 600 persistently shudders over smooth tarmac - the cons of the body on frame structure, but that shouldn’t be an excuse when the Escalade and Navigator seem to quell those undulations much more effectively.
We simply expected a softer, cushier, and more absorbent ride. Instead, the LX rides busy, even with its adaptive suspension, translating all those nooks and crannies on the road into vertical oscillations that you can feel through your seat. It’s not taxing per se, but it is not even as well-sorted as some pick-up trucks like the RAM 1500 that utilize an air suspension. That might have been acceptable in the humbler Land Cruiser, but not so much in a six-figure Lexus.
The LX cabin has been thoroughly revamped, falling in line with the design cues brought forth by the NX SUV. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make use of the same kind of exquisite details we know that Lexus is capable of, shown in the LS and LC, at least in the F Sport model we are driving. A missed opportunity if you ask us, to add in those details as standard fare, better leather detailing and stitching, and just an overall sense of pizzazz to wow customers away from other brands. That’s what the extra $44,250 will be for with the VIP package, but part of us thinks it should have been standard all along to give the Lexus a blip on the radar for those seriously considering the more expensive German and British SUVs instead.
Because the dimensions of the LX haven’t changed with this fourth-gen model, the cabin is clearly not as wide, roomy, or as spacious as its rivals. The third-row is manageable for six-foot adults but still admittedly cramped for lengthier journies. The third row can fold flat for a decent amount of cargo space, but there is oddly only one sunroof for the front cabin and none for the rear, which unfortunately contributes to the somewhat cramped atmosphere.
The dual touchscreens are an interesting addition, and we enjoy Lexus’ under-reliance on digital real estate. There’s a real button for nearly every high-function feature, and a multitude of shortcuts on the steering wheel as well. The screen is a bit far away from the seats, meaning you have to get off your seat to reach it. We would have much preferred just one single large screen like in the NX. Luckily, all the dials work well here, feel upscale and expensive, and are well-matched to the premium quality surfaces textured in leather and high-gloss plastics. Lexus has even kept a few analog auxiliary gauges in the instrument cluster, all of which flank the center digital screen. The LX offers excellent outward visibility too with an upright seating position, a deeply scooped front hood and low cowl, and 360-degree camera views all around.
The Lexus LX 600 continues its journey in the luxury three-row SUV segment as an attractive but not class-leading example. There are standout features like its quiet V6 powertrain, generous amenities, and wonderful cabin ergonomics, but it’s ultimately overshadowed by its flinty ride, narrow cabin, and lack of flagship SUV pizzazz. The LX 600 retains its age-old charm and off-roading credentials but we just wished Lexus didn’t rest on its laurels and instead, took a bigger gamble with the LX to truly elevate it to flagship SUV status.
Model: 2022 Lexus LX 600 F Sport Series 1
Paint Type: Manganese Lustre
Base Price: $106,950
Price as Tested: $120,600
Length/Width/Height (mm): 5,085 / 1,990 / 1,885
Curb weight (kg): 2,660
Engine: 3.5-litre twin-turbocharged V6
Horsepower: 409 hp @ 5,200 rpm
Torque: 479 lb-ft @ 2,000 rpm
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, 4WD
Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway ) L/100km: 14.2 / 10.8
Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 13.8
Tires: 22-inch wheels