New, but plenty old school
For starters, the 2022 Lexus LX 600 rolls on the same 112.2-inch wheelbase it has since 1995. Lexus calls this, in conjunction with the vehicle’s tread and suspension articulation, the “golden ratio” because it supposedly delivers excellent off-road capability and riding comfort, though on pavement that second claim is pretty untrue (more on that in a moment). As before, the LX features body-on-frame construction, a double-wishbone front suspension and a live axle ’round back for rock-crushing ruggedness. This vehicle is now built on the automaker’s Global Architecture F platform, which is 20% stiffer than before, thanks in part to additional spot welds and more structural adhesive.
Depending on the trim level and suspension setting, the chassis provides up to a 27.4-degree approach angle and a 26.3-degree departure angle. The LX 600 can climb hills at up to 45 degrees, tackle 44-degree stable inclinations and drive through 28 inches of water.
For even greater off-road prowess, the LX can be equipped with Active Height Control, a $1,300 option that includes special actuators on each shock absorber. Using hydraulic pressure, they provide four different ride heights: low, which makes it easier to get in and out of the vehicle, normal for everyday use, and then High 1 and High 2 for trail-pounding duty. Thanks to new hydraulic circuits and controls, the time it takes to adjust this SUV’s height has been cut in half.
Other off-road-specific features include six driver-selectable terrain modes, low-range gearing and crawl control, which maintains a set speed while creeping along the trail. A phalanx of exterior cameras help you see obstacles around the vehicle while rock crawling, and they should complain a lot less than having a buddy spot for you.
Size-wise, the 2022 Lexus LX 600 is 0.8-inch longer than its predecessor and 0.4-inch wider. Its overall height remains the same, though the A-pillars have been pushed rearward by 2.8 inches for a more planted look. Helping this luxury SUV slim down, the doors, fenders, hood and roof are all made of aluminum, changes that help reduce the curb weight by a claimed 441 pounds.
F Sport upgrades
The LX 600 is offered with four, five or seven seats and is available in five trims. F Sport Handling and Ultra Luxury are both new grades for 2022. The latter has seating for four, courtesy of two VIP second-row chairs. Those cushy buckets are divided by a generous center console that features a control screen. These models also benefit from additional sunshades, overhead air vents for added comfort, and an ottoman integrated into the rear of the passenger-side front seat backrest, an opulent touch.
The example seen in this review is the boldly styled F Sport variant. These models feature unique suspension tuning and a Torsen limited-slip rear differential. Inside, you’ll also find a sprinkling of model-specific logos and striped aluminum trim that looks great. Special front seats with more bolstering and unique interior colors (including bright red) are also offered. But more noticeable than any of these cabin fitments is the F Sport’s blacked-out, mesh-filled grille and rear diffuser. Lesser grades feature 18- or 20-inch wheels, but this model — and the Ultra Luxury trim — rolls on 22-inch forged aluminum wheels.
A luxurious but cramped interior
Unlike its, um, bold exterior, the LX’s cabin is much more cleanly designed. The dashboard is elegantly shaped and the leather used throughout is creamy soft. Three screens are included, with a broad-but-short 12.3-incher serving as the multimedia hub. The infotainment system that lives there is extremely snappy and intuitive, with a fresh, flat aesthetic. This look, however, clashes with the 7-inch display that lives beneath it and the 8-inch digital instrument cluster. With gradients and shadows, the interfaces on these smaller panels look like they were designed by a different team.
The LX 600’s front buckets are lovely, soft and supportive, though the second row isn’t as nice, being noticeably snugger. The third row is tighter still, barely able to accommodate 6-foot-tall adults, though they will fit in a pinch. The lower cushion is practically on the floor and headroom is a bit limited, but there’s more legroom back there than you might expect.
Cargo space, however, is a bit disappointing. Behind the third row there’s just 11 cubic feet, which sounds like more than it is. Practically speaking, there’s enough room for a few grocery bags, though the space is so shallow they’ll probably get squished a little when the hatch closes. It’s more realistic to drive around with that aft-most bench folded, in which case you get a much more reasonable 44 cubes. Drop the second row and that number grows to 64, though the backrests leave a large step in the floor, so don’t expect to just slide cargo in.
Whoever coined the phrase “there’s no replacement for displacement” knew nothing about boost. The previous-gen LX’s lovely 5.7-liter V8 has been jettisoned in favor of a 3.5-liter (technically 3,445 cubic centimeters, but who’s counting?) twin-turbo V6. Small but mighty, this engine delivers 409 horsepower and a stout 479 pound-feet of torque, at least when running premium fuel as Lexus recommends. If you’re counting, that’s 26 additional hp and 76 extra lb.-ft. of twist compared to the bellowing V8 it replaces.
Hushed rather than sonorous, this new engine is entirely pleasant. It delivers loads of oomph throughout the rev range and, not surprisingly, the whole shebang feels uncannily similar to Ford’s EcoBoost V6 of the same displacement. Aside from low-end grunt, this Lexus is impressively potent up top, the engine offering an extra surge of power from about 5,000 to 6,000 rpm. Lexus claims this luxo-barge can scamper to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds, though it feels quicker than that.
Aside from its responsive new engine, the LX benefits from another important powertrain upgrade: a transmission with 10 speeds instead of eight. Smooth and servile, this gearbox fades into the background like beige wallpaper, shifting smoothly and smartly. Bury the accelerator and downshifts can be a little slow to manifest, but that’s my only complaint. This transmission also helps the LX 600 return decent fuel economy. Expect 17 mpg city and 22 mpg highway. In mixed driving I’m getting around 17.2, which is a bit off the EPA’s 19 mpg combined rating. But still, this rig is far more efficient than its predecessor, which stickers at just 14 mpg combined.
A disappointing ride
This SUV’s new powertrain is a winner, but otherwise it’s a dud to drive — on pavement at least. The F Sport model, with its unique suspension tuning, has a jiggly ride that borders on obnoxious. The adaptive shock absorbers allegedly have 650 levels of damping but seem to make little difference. Paradoxically, the ride isn’t harsh or stiff, but the body is constantly moving around, even on smooth roads. Every expansion joint or speck of dirt on the asphalt gets transmitted directly to the passenger compartment. I can’t remember testing another vehicle that feels this unsettled, and I’ve reviewed the rough-and-tumble Jeep Wrangler on many occasions.
Despite the poor ride quality, the LX 600’s electrically assisted steering is quick and accurate, which helps make this SUV feel just a bit more manageable. The electrically controlled braking system is likewise confident and modulation is seamless.
Keeping you safe, this SUV comes with the Lexus Safety System Plus 2.5. This includes features like automatic emergency braking, pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-keeping assist and automatic high beams. Adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability is included, too, and it’s smart enough to accelerate around slower-moving traffic when you signal before making a lane change. As adaptive cruise control systems go, this one is merely OK because the lane centering is inconsistent, often tugging at the steering wheel.
Overprice and underdeliver
The 2022 Lexus LX 600 starts at $88,245 including $1,345 in destination fees. That’s a lot of scratch, but it only goes up from there. This F Sport Handling model checks out for a princely $105,005. Aside from delivery, the only extra to inflate that figure is the $2,660 Mark Levinson sound system. If you opt instead for the range-topping Ultra Luxury model, you’ll be shelling out around $128 grand, which is a lot of dough, though to be fair, that’s still far less than a loaded Range Rover.
Aside from its off-road capability, refined powertrain and assumed long-term dependability, there is, unfortunately, not much I actually like about this SUV. Its styling is a bit too aggressive, the interior is cramped, and its ride is simply not competitive in the 21st century. As luxury off-roaders go, I’d take a Range Rover or Mercedes-Benz G-Class over this Lexus any day of the week. Hell, I’d rather have a bare-bones, blue-collar Chevy Tahoe, which is more spacious and comfortable inside and starts at a mere $52 grand.