Maybe I just don’t get it.
The idea of a serious four-wheel-drive like the Toyota LandCruiser 300 Series being turned into a luxury SUV, aka the Lexus LX, just seems like an exercise in compromise.
Look, I know the Mercedes G-Wagen exists – but the Lexus LX is a very, very different kind of car.
Like, who on Earth is going to take a $175,000 SUV with 22-inch wheels off-road? Even if it has low-range, height-adjustable air suspension, Crawl Control, a camera that can help you see through the car to the ground ahead, and a heap of different drive modes?
The ladder-chassis, body-on-frame design might mean that the LX can tow 3.5 tonnes, too… but it also means this luxury SUV isn’t as luxurious as it could be. I’ll tell you why in this review.
The LX 600 Sports Luxury tested here is one of the more affordable versions of this range – though if you can call this car ‘affordable’, good for you!
The Sports Luxury grade has a few really nice added items over the base model, which I’ll detail below, but unlike that base grade it’s strictly a five-seater. So, if you need seven seats you need to buy the most basic version of the LX.
When it comes to rivals, the obvious alternative is the related Toyota LandCruiser 300, which is more affordable but likely less attainable given its extensive wait times.
The LX’s mainstream-branded sibling is priced from $92,861 plus on-road costs for the GX, and tops out at $141,461 for the Sahara ZX, which has a fair few nice features for a lot less cash than the Lexus.
When it comes to colours, none of the paint finishes cost any extra on the LX – so, you can have your pick of Liquid Metal grey (as tested), or Onyx black, Sonic Quartz white, Graphite Black, Khaki Metal green, or Titanium silver.
2023 Lexus LX pricing
Lexus LX 500d
- LX 500d: $153,091
- LX 500d Sports Luxury: $170,091
- LX 500d F Sport: $176,091
Lexus LX 600
- LX 600: $156,591
- LX600 Sports Luxury: $173,591
- LX600 F Sport: $179,591
- LX600 Ultra Luxury: $215,091
The front seat experience in the LX is quite nice, and it feels like you’re in your own little pod – like a business class suite on a long-haul flight.
That’s because the centre console area is huge, and divides the front seats dramatically with its bulk. Part of that is because there’s a front centre armrest section that includes a cool box, and it takes up a lot of room.
In front of it is a wireless phone charger and a pair of cupholders as well, plus there are also controls for the height adjustable suspension and other controls for different settings.
Near the shifter there’s a storage tray, and the controls for the heated and cooled front seats and heated steering wheel, as well as a couple of USB ports (1x USB-C, 1x USB-A) and a 12-volt plug.
Above it is the screen for the climate controls, but it has multiple display applications including the height adjustment and a G-force meter, and brake and accelerometer, and the fan speed ‘buttons’ are there, too. It’s a busy little screen, but it is actually easy to get your head around.
Above it is a big 12.3-inch touchscreen media system, which does have a bit of a menus-upon-menus setup, so spending a bit of time getting to know it is something you should do if you’re planning on buying one of these.
There’s satellite navigation as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – available wired or wirelessly – so that’s a nice plus. And, the 25-speaker Mark Levinson premium audio system is better than excellent.
In front of the driver there is a digital instrument display that isn’t quite as high-res as the main infotainment screen, and it also doesn’t have as much information.
But it does have some dials beside it, with some of the conventional things that drivers might want to know about if they are into off-roading – i.e. battery voltage, engine temperature, oil temperature, fuel gauge.
The part-wood, part-leather steering wheel is a bit old-school, but it does match nicely with the wood finishes throughout the cabin.
I’m not so sure the red leather seen here is going to appeal to everyone, but in combination with the black headliner and black carpet, at least it adds a bit of colour and distinction to the cabin.
This might be picky (it’s my job) but I found the seats to be lacking in support – they are big and wide, but they don’t have much in terms of comfort adjustment.
In the back, the seat comfort situation is similar – flat.
Space is okay, but certainly not as accommodating as you might expect it would be for a car of this size.
Part of that comes down to the fact that there are rear entertainment displays in this grade, which impose on leg-space; and if you’re a parent, your child will probably end up trying to touch the screen with their feet. Mine did.
There’s a HDMI port to connect up to those screens, but who uses HDMI these days? You can mirror smartphone menus there, but you can’t watch YouTube or anything on them. Maybe hooking up the kids’ Nintendo Switch via HDMI is the best bet.
There is also a pair of headphone jacks and USB-C ports for backseat riders, and those in the back have heated and ventilated seats like the front. Plus ,there is dual-zone climate control with a fan controller, and central directional air-vents as well as overhead vents – it does feel like those in the back are getting a very good experience.
I even had two friends and my daughter in the back at one stage, and the middle-seat rider said that it was the best middle-seat experience they’d ever had.
The space isn’t too bad, but it’s not as accommodating as it could be for a vehicle of this size because the rear seats don’t slide fore and aft, so you can’t make it so you’ve got more legroom if you want it – which seems very silly.
However, there is a decent amount of storage on offer, including a flip-down armrest with pop-up cup-holders, storage crannies on the backs of both seats, and big bottle holders in the doors. There are outboard ISOFIX points and three top-tethers as well.
One comment from all the people who I drove with over the week I had this car was about the height of the cabin. It’s on air suspension, so you can lower it down when you’re parked, but even so, it’s a hike to get up in to the seat if you’re small or less agile.
It cannot hide its body-on-frame design in that regard, despite having a set of side steps and access handles near the doors to help aid ingress and egress.
The cargo area is enormous – as it should be for a vehicle that’s designed to have three rows of seats but only has two.
There’s ample room to fit a pram and luggage… or camping gear, if you insist. But there’s also a full-size alloy spare wheel under the body of the car.
The boot area also has a 220-volt powerpoint, buttons for the rear seats to electronically release to fold, and – despite the fact that it doesn’t have third row seats – it still has third row air-vents and cup-holders in the wheel-arches.
This version of the LX comes with a 6.0-litre engine – no, no… WRONG. That’s what the name suggests it should come with, since the old 5.7L model came with the LX 570 badge.
Instead, LX 600 models have a 3.5-litre twin-turbocharged petrol V6 – that’s one thing that sets it apart from the the LandCruiser 300 in Australia, which is diesel only.
The petrol engine makes a huge 305kW of power (5200rpm) and 650Nm of torque (2000-3600rpm), which means it has 35kW and 120Nm more than the old naturally-aspirated 5.7-litre V8.
It has a 10-speed automatic transmission with a full-time all-wheel drive system, a low-range transfer case for off-roading, and a centre differential lock, too.
There is an array of off-road features, like the Multi-Terrain Select system with multiple modes – Auto, Dirt, Sand, Mud, Deep Snow and Rock. Plus, the chassis features active height control suspension with Normal, High 1 and High 2 settings.
However, this review isn’t going to be an off-road test. The insurance excess and potential for damage put me off the idea of taking it through the rough stuff. You can see how it went in our 4WD SUV Mega Test here.
For those who plan to tow, there’s a trailer wiring harness with towing hitch fitted to all grades. The maximum braked towing capacity is 3.5 tonnes (or 750kg unbraked).
Well, it doesn’t drive like a BMW X7, Volkswagen Touareg, a Range Rover, or even a Land Rover Defender.
In my opinion, it drives like a ladder-chassis SUV with wheels that are too big and suspension that cannot keep up with the rims.
The ride of this $175,000 SUV is not nearly as good as it should be, and for context I had an Isuzu MU-X at the same time I was driving this LX, and the ride in it was far more controlled and enjoyable. Yep – you read that right.
It feels as though the weight of the body is working against the suspension when you hit sharp bumps or lumpy sections of road, and it never feels as settled as it arguably should, considering the cost.
I’ve driven a lower spec model with the 20-inch wheels before, and it was better. However, I’ve also heard luxury brands say that ride comfort is not a high priority for high-end SUV buyers – they’re more concerned about power and ease of driving, as well as status (obviously).
And in those regards, the LX makes a few strong statements.
The petrol powertrain is a corker, with more than enough grunt for daily duties, and it has a nice snarl to it when you ask more of the engine, too.
The 10-speed automatic was also faultless during my time in the car, with smooth shifts and a nice logic that allows the engine to use its torque when it should, rather than constantly shifting up and down through the ratios as some other 10-coggers can.
Likewise, the steering is surprisingly good. It’s easy to turn at lower speeds, making parking moves more simple than you’d expect, and that’s aided by the standard-fit surround-view camera and parking sensors front and rear – which come on automatically at low speeds, unlike some that require you to engage reverse before the front sensors activate.
And at higher speeds the steering is decent too. Not as involving or inspiring as some of the other like-priced SUVs out there, but it’s predictable and responsive enough.
It’s also incredibly quiet at pace, with highway driving over unpleasant coarse-chip surfaces being a non-issue, as there’s pretty minimal tyre roar intrusion into the cabin.
The Sports Luxury grade is pretty sweet in terms of standard gear, with a comprehensive range of equipment.
LX 600 Sports Luxury highlights:
- 22-inch alloy wheels
- Tri-beam LED headlights, adaptive high-beam
- 12.3-inch central touchscreen
- 7.0-inch lower screen
- 8.0-inch digital driver display
- Head-up display
- “Hey Lexus” natural speech recognition
- 25-speaker Mark Levinson sound system
- 4-zone climate control
- Premium leather-accented seats
- 10-way driver, 8-way front passenger power seat adjustment
- Heated, ventilated front seats
- Heated, ventilated rear seats
- Heated steering wheel
- Centre console cooler box
- ‘Takanoha’ ornamentation – wood veneer
- DAB+ digital radio
- Satellite navigation
- Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
- Wireless phone charging
- Surround-view camera
- Multi-terrain monitor
- Digital rear-view mirror
- Dual 11.6-inch rear-seat screens
- Soft-close doors
- Fingerprint identification push-button start
- Lexus Connected Services
- Stolen vehicle tracking
- Auto collision notification
- SOS call functionality
There is no ANCAP safety rating for the Lexus LX, despite the fact the Toyota LandCruiser 300 it’s based on scored the maximum five-star rating against 2022 criteria.
Standard safety features include:
- Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
- Pedestrian detection (day/night)
- Cyclist detection (day)
- Intersection turn assist
- Parking Support Brake incl. obstacle, vehicle detection
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Adaptive cruise control
- Lane Tracing Assist
- Traffic sign recognition
- Emergency steering assist
There are 10 airbags fitted to most grades: driver and front passenger, driver’s knee, front-centre, front and rear side, as well as curtain airbags. The Ultra Luxury top-spec model has 12 – the rear seats are fitted with additional cushion airbags.
Obviously if you’re spending this kind of money on a luxury SUV, the running costs probably aren’t going to be a dealbreaker for you.
Lexus now covers its range with a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty which is the industry standard these days, but just note that the LX 600 is a thirsty thing.
It has an official combined cycle fuel use figure of 12.1 litres per 100 kilometres, and in my testing in this Sports Luxury – which was mainly highway and freeway driving – I didn’t see that low. My week-long average was 12.3L/100km.
It needs 95 RON premium unleaded, and it’ll take a while to fill up at the servo – fuel tank capacity is 110 litres (80L main tank, 30L sub-tank).
However, for those who realise that time is the only luxury we truly have in life, the service intervals on this big rig might be a bit frustrating. That’s because the LX requires servicing every six months or 10,000km, not every year and 15,000km like most other cars on the market.
The services cost $495 per visit, too, meaning you’re bombing a grand a year just to have it serviced, and the service plan only runs to three years/60,000km – less than many of Lexus’ other models.
The brand does have a great reputation for ownership stuff, though, including the option to have your car collected and returned to you, and the choice to have a loan car for the period it’s away, too.
The Lexus Encore ownership plan included at purchase also incorporates three years of roadside assistance.
There are plenty of reasons why you might want a Lexus LX.
It has a vast amount of technology and equipment, a superb petrol powertrain, a massive boot, and it’s surprisingly liveable in day-to-day driving, for the most part.
So, just because I don’t personally understand how you could spend this amount of money on something like this, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t if it’s exactly what you want.
And if what you want is a more luxurious petrol-powered five-seat take on the LandCruiser 300, then this is the perfect car for you!
Click the images for the full gallery
MORE: Everything Lexus LX