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Spring cleaning has arrived early at Lexus, and boy was it was long overdue.
After 14 years, the luxury brand has finally replaced its LX flagship SUV with the all-new LX600 that’s now in showrooms.
Like the previous edition, the full-size model is based on the Toyota Land Cruiser, which is no longer sold in the U.S. but has also been fully redesigned and is engineered to be one of the toughest trucks on the planet.
The $88,245 LX600 retains a lot of what makes the Land Cruiser a formidable off-roader, but drapes it in an upscale style that includes the largest example yet of Lexus’s signature spindle grille.
Behind it is a 3.5-liter turbocharged V6 with 409 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque that is more powerful than the old LX’s V8 and drives a full-time all-wheel-drive system that can be locked in 4×4 and is equipped with a two-speed transfer case for extra grunt. It’s also more efficient that its predecessor, but don’t expect it to impersonate a Prius. The LX600 is rated at 19 mpg combined, up from the previous edition’s 14 mpg.
The LX600 remains very much a truck and still has a solid rear axle, while competitors like the Cadillac Escalade and Jeep Grand Wagoneer ride on fully-independent suspension systems. This helps it achieve a towing capacity of 8,000 pounds and can be a boon in the kind of extreme off-road situations LX’s rarely get themselves into, but knocks the on-road ride quality down a solid notch or two.
Computer-controlled shocks do their best with it and the LX600 is quieter than a library basement on both the highway and trails. If the latter happens to be particularly rough, a set of air springs can lift the body a couple of inches to get over rocks, although that solid axle ultimately means the ground clearance down the middle remains at 7.9 to 8.3 inches, depending on what wheel and tire package is fitted.
Despite its size, the LX600’s interior is snug. The second row provides less legroom than a Lexus NX compact and there’s not much cargo space behind the third row that’s included on several models. If you fold it down, however, you are rewarded with a generous cargo space.
Lexus also offers an Ultra Luxury trim that replaces the second and third rows with a pair of reclining seats, a console between them and ottomans that fold down from the backs of the front seats. It’s clearly aimed at the high-end livery service market, but I think it might be a blast to be chauffeured in one on a glamping trip.
Regardless of the trim level, the LX600 comes well-appointed with the kind of high-end materials you expect from the label, although the styling is more functional than fabulous. A large central touchscreen display features a new infotainment system that’s much better than past setups and does away with the clunky touchpad and mouse controls that have plagued Lexus models in recent years. An optional dual-screen rear seat entertainment system offers control of the audio system and inputs for mobile devices, including through HDMI. You can even get a refrigerator installed under the driver’s armrest.
A full suite of electronic driver aids including automatic emergency brakes, adaptive cruise control and a self-centering lane-tracing feature are standard along with a 360-degree virtual overhead camera system that renders a view of what’s under the vehicle as you negotiate tricky terrain.
The LX600 is very good at doing that if you don’t mind getting your pricey ride dirty. Its relatively tidy size and short overhangs pay dividends in tight spots and it has a small turning radius for a big truck that can be made even smaller on slippery surfaces thanks to a feature that locks the inside rear wheel and uses it to pivot around. There’s also hill hold, hill descent control and low speed cruise control for rock crawling at a walking pace. I like to think LX owners actually do that sort of stuff, but have never actually run into one in the wilderness. At least not a new one still on lease.
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While the LX600 is very new its keeps the same spirit as the outgoing model, which sold in small numbers, but holds its value on the used market better than any other large luxury SUV and has a rabid fan base. They’ll be happy the boat hasn’t been rocked too much, just freshened up.
As for this LX’s staying power, it arrives at an interesting time with the world transitioning to electric and all that. Check back with me in 2036 to see if it’s still on sale.
2022 Lexus LX600
Base price: $88,245
As tested: $107,805
Type: 7-passenger, 4-door, all-wheel-drive SUV
Engine: 3.5-liter turbocharged V6
Power: 409 hp, 479 lb-ft
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
MPG: 17 city/22 hwy