The LX is the Lexus equivalent of the big Land Cruiser 300 Series, with the emphasis here on big.
It’s a prodigious machine capable of taking you places you never dreamed possible, but in reality it will probably never be used for this purpose.
With a 3.5 tonne towing capacity, it’s more likely that the LX will find duty as a tow vehicle, with a boat or horse float on the back.
Inside, Lexus lays it on thick.
What’s it cost?
LX comes with the choice of four, five or seven seats depending on grade.
Prices range from $148,800 for the entry LX 500d seven-seater rising to $210,800 for the LX 600 Ultra Luxury, both prices before on-road costs.
Our test vehicle, the five-seat LX 600 Sports Luxury, is priced at $173,591 and features leather-accented seats with heating and ventilation, heated steering wheel, cool box, hands-free tailgate, dual rear-seat entertainment system and the new ‘Takanoha’ ornamentation – a wood veneer precisely shaved down to create a pattern resembling hawk feathers.
Additional security comes from a new Lexus-first fingerprint sensor to authorise operation of the push-button starter.
Up to 10 fingerprints can be registered and linked to the memory function that enables the seat, wheel and exterior mirror settings to be automatically adjusted to the user’s preference.
LX, Sports Luxury and Ultra Luxury versions feature a brushed chrome ‘spindle’ grille with seven twin horizontal bars.
In the sporty F Sport this grille is replaced by a black honeycomb-style grille with floating badge and number plate.
It’s the grille that clearly distinguishes the LX from its Land Cruiser counterpart, with only minor differences at the rear.
Along with auto levelling and cornering LED headlights, the rear features LED tail lights and a bling full-width LED light bar.
Entry LX rolls on 20-inch alloys, while higher-spec versions get 22s and 50 series rubber along with a sunroof.
Inside, it’s an exercise in overkill with lots of leather and four-zone climate control air.
The centre console features not one, but two touchscreens, with a 12.3-inch touchscreen hanging like an umbrella over a smaller 7.0-inch screen immediately underneath.
The large screen handles navigation and other infotainment duties, while the smaller screen is reserved for off-road and air conditioning settings.
Lexus has had a bet each way with the instrumentation, with a largish 8.0-inch centre digital screen flanked by four old-style analogue gauges.
You can scroll through the digital screen using buttons located on the steering wheel, but you cannot change the look the way you can with fully digital setups.
Although the colours change a little depending on which drive mode is selected.
There’s also a digital rear-view mirror and head-up display with speed sign recognition, but per usual the latter is almost invisible to polarised sunglasses.
Audio is handled by a premium Mark Levinson Reference sound system with a total of 25 speakers (we did say overkill, didn’t we?)
The system supports Bluetooth, built-in navigation, Hey Lexus voice control, AM/FM and DAB+ digital radio, plus wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, along with a wireless charge pad that is conveniently located within reach of fingers in the centre console.
This model also gets twin rear entertainment screens, mounted on the back of each front seat — but in a break from tradition headphones are not supplied.
All up there are two 12 volt outlets, a 220 volt rear outlet plus three USB-C ports — one in the front and another two in the back.
Five star safety extends to 10 airbags, a 360 degree camera and autonomous emergency braking including for pedestrians and cyclists.
There’s also active traction control, dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure warning and correction, intersection turn assist, road speed sign assist, downhill assist control, hill start assist and crawl control.
Add to this front and rear parking sensors and support brake, reversing camera with washer, pre-collision safety system with emergency steering assist, multi-terrain select and monitor, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, adaptive high-beam , and tyre pressure warning.
LX is covered by a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty, with capped price servicing for three years and service intervals of six months/10,000km priced at $595 a pop for the first six services.
You also get three-year membership of the owner benefits program, which includes use of another Lexus when travelling interstate or to New Zealand on four occasions for up to eight days.
What’s it go like?
It’s impossible to avoid comparisons with the Land Cruiser.
LX comes with a choice of petrol or diesel engines. The Land Cruiser is diesel only — but it’s the same diesel.
The 3.3-litre turbo-diesel is good for 227kW/700Nm and fuel consumption of 8.9L/100km.
The twin turbo 3.5-litre V6 delivers 305kW/650Nm and 12.1L/100km.
In both the Lexus and Toyota, transmission is via the same 10-speed conventional auto, with drive to all four wheels.
A low range transfer case, lockable Torsen centre differential and various off-road modes are available for when the going gets tough.
It also features adaptive variable suspension, active height control suspension and multi-terrain settings.
Sitting high off the ground, getting into and out of the big LX can be a challenge.
Some assistance is provided with side steps, grab handles and height-adjustable suspension that lowers the wagon height by 27mm.
Styling, cabin layout and fit out are all different and the two cars are equipped differently, in the name of differentiation the Lexus from the Toyota and to create a more sumptuous driving experience.
To save weight aluminium panels are used for the bonnet, roof, roof beads, upper hinges, tailgate, doors and front fenders.
Cargo space is slightly less than the older model, offering up to 1871 litres with the second row seats folded.
The bonnet features a dip down the centre almost like a slippery dip that gives the driver a better view of the road ahead.
Not sure why you’d buy the petrol model, apart from the fact it’s slicker and smoother — perhaps readers could enlighten us?
Around town the LX is a vehicle out of its element, a tight fit in carparks and lacking the vision necessary to keep from bumping into others.
In the context of country towns and out on the open road, even threading its way off-road, it feels happier and easier to manage.
With plenty of grunt from the twin-turbo V6, performance is for the most part effortless, belying its 2640 kilos.
But this weight soon comes into play pushing hard through tighter corners, so don’t get carried away.
LX is quiet inside thanks to active sound control with an expansive view of the surroundings, due to the high seating position.
We spent a day exploring back roads in the foothills of the Blue Mountains on a cold, windy, sometimes snowy autumn day in the petrol-powered LX 600 Sports Luxury.
With the windchill factor sending temperatures plunging, the heated seats and a heated steering wheel proved their worth.
Our journey took us down patchwork bitumen and many dirt roads, some deeply rutted by recent rain — and at least one signposted 4×4 only. That’s us, right?
The electronic suspension adapts automatically to the surface and none of the roads/trails required any special settings, but the thing is the LX gives the driver confidence to push on when you might consider turning back in a lesser vehicle.
As the shadows began to grow longer, however, discretion finally got the better of us and we decided to turn back after travelling only a short distance along the 4×4 trail, bookmarking the road for another day.
There’s nothing worse than getting stuck with no phone reception as the light begins to fade.
The current LX dates back to 2021, the first clean skin design in 14 years and first Lexus to use the GA-F Global Architecture platform, designed specifically for body-on-frame vehicles.
At 205mm with 22-inch wheels fitted, it rides 23mm lower than the previous model in the name of better dynamics, but drops 27mm to provide easier access when required.
Off road the active suspension can boost the ride height by up to 103mm, delivering an impressive total of 308mm of ground clearance.
We’ve taken the LX and its sibling off road many times in the past and can report it takes some stopping, although the Lexus with its larger wheels and lower profile rubber is likely to be damaged more easily — just saying.
Compared to the second generation LX 470 that we drove from Sydney to Byron Bay a few years ago, the ride is considerably firmer and — dare we say it — unLexus-like!
With a 110-litre fuel capacity, the LX prefers premium 95 unleaded. After close to 500km of mixed driving, we were getting 13.1L/100km from the petrol V6.
That’s not bad considering, but the diesel makes more sense.
What we like?
Petrol or diesel option
Smooth, comfortable and refined
Impressively low noise levels
More power lower fuel consumption
What we don’t like?
Likes a drink
Thunks into first gear
Choppy ride on bad bitumen
Dash looks far too busy
Rear legroom unexpectedly tight
Erratic rain sensing wipers
The bottom line?
The big question and the elephant in the room, is why buy the Lexus over the top of the range Land Cruiser 300 series?
Comparing apples with apples, at $170,000 the diesel 500d is almost $30,000 more than a top of the range diesel Sahara ZX. I know which one I’d buy if it was me making the decision.