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SUV Test: 2022 Lexus LX 600 F Sport

Will buyers be satisfied with a tippy, not particularly attractive vehicle with a dated interior?

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The flagship 2022 Lexus LX 600 luxury SUV is new from the tires onwards, replacing the previous generation that existed for almost 15 years. An absolute eternity in car years. Based on the Toyota Land Cruiser, the souped-up LX’s mission was to add a layer of Lexus luxury to the iconic rugged Toyota. There is a new Land Cruiser in other markets and hence this fresh LX. It’s still body-on-frame, it’ll likely still get you through the Sahara unscathed, and as you’d expect, the newcomer sees big leaps in refinement, performance, technology and comfort. And grid size.

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The 2022 Lexus LX 600 starts at $106,950 in Canada. This tester comes equipped with the $13,650 F-Sport package, which includes 22-inch wheels, semi-aniline leather, vented second-row seats, 25-speaker Mark Levinson audio, limited-slip rear differential and more contains. As imposing as ever, the LX eschews the 2023 Land Rover’s chic catwalk design for the traditional upright “don’t mess with me, my grille is bigger than your grille” approach. Although the “spindle” grille is black on F-Sport trim, it’s less intrusive.

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The LX 600’s cabin is an improvement over the interior of the aging LX 570. It’s a mix of old and new, incorporating digital technology while offering a range of easy-to-use analogue controls. A new touchscreen interface replaces Lexus’ much-maligned mouse-like controller of yore, but oddly there’s no split-screen capability. It’s also far away, and scrolling through radio stations is impossible without a tuning knob. The menu structure makes accessing audio functions a frustrating exercise – almost forgivable given the excellent sound of the Mark Levinson system.

There are some real throwbacks here — the old-fashioned PRND shifter, a puny sunroof, a small cluttered digital info display in the center speedometer, and a plastic gas cap release lever hidden in the lower dash. Everything is built to the expected Lexus standard, of course, but it already feels dated here. Why doesn’t this Lexus flagship get the superb next-gen infotainment system introduced in the 2022 Lexus NX compact crossover?

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Ahead of a vintage PRND shifter is a large panel with analog controls for HVAC and off-road systems. Set a temperature with the Climate Concierge button and the LX will do its best to make you comfortable, adjusting seat heating or cooling, steering wheel heating and ambient temperature as needed. The smaller screen above the HVAC buttons displays climate and off-road functions, and there’s a large drive mode selector that calls up six modes – Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport S, Sport S+ if you’re feeling extra sporty , and a customizable mode.

This body-on-frame SUV has decades of off-road credibility in its portfolio, and the tradition continues. With the MTS (Multi Terrain Select) button the LX optimizes its systems for the chosen terrain, there is a button for accessing the hill descent and low speed crawl functions and next to it a dial for high or low range. On the console are buttons for the center differential lock and air suspension height adjustment.

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I haven’t gone off-road in my week on this gigantic luxury barge (who will?), but rest assured bragging rights are fully intact.

The old model’s split rear tailgate is replaced with a standard step-sensing power tailgate, and the third-row seat now folds flat into the floor rather than up to the sides, which hampered cargo space. Passenger space and third-row access are fairly cramped compared to some of the LX’s longer-wheelbase rivals – think Cadillac Escalade, Mercedes-Benz GL and BMW X7.

The big story of the LX 600 is under the hood. The old LX 570 ran with a 5.7-liter V8. Does that mean the new 600 model will get a 6-liter V8? nope Motivation comes from a 3.5-liter, twin-turbo V6 that, while it doesn’t elicit a classy V8 rumble, churns out more power and torque — 410 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque, and that’s 26 and 76 more, respectively than the old V8. It’s hooked up to a 10-speed intelligent shifter auto. With a hefty boost of turbo torque that hits low in the rev range, the big LX pulls effortlessly out of just about any speed.

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2022 Lexus LX600F Sport
2022 Lexus LX600F Sport Photo by Peter Bleakney

The LX 600 is around 200kg lighter than the old model and with this smaller, more efficient engine the combined fuel economy improves by 12.7 l/100km compared to the LX 570’s 16.9. Additionally, towing capacity jumps from 7,000 lbs to 8,000 lbs.

Once hoisted into the beautiful red leather armchair, one has an impressive view of the street. The V6 is smooth, powerful and quiet, and the 10-speed auto engulfs gears imperceptibly. Ride quality is up too, but tuck into a corner and there’s a lot of body roll. The LX 600 is big and wobbly, and while it does its best to hide the fact that it’s a bodyshell truck with a live rear axle, the occasional structural tremor and sluggish handling are dead giveaways. Sport’s selection softens some of the nautical tendencies, but the ride never feels completely settled.

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2022 Lexus LX600F Sport
2022 Lexus LX600F Sport Photo by Peter Bleakney

There’s no question that this new LX is miles ahead of the old model, and don’t get me wrong, it’s a mighty convincing piece of luxury off-road kit. But compared to the redesigned 2023 Range Rover, arguably its main competitor, the Lexus LX 600 feels a bit prehistoric. The Rangie has a beautifully rendered interior, is vastly superior on the road, and will likely take you just as far from civilization as the Lexus.

Toyota Land Cruiser fans will be quick to point out that Range Rover had a somewhat tenuous relationship with reliability, while when Armageddon comes your Lexus LX 600 will likely be sharing what’s left of our planet with the roaches and Keith Richards. This legendary resilience is reflected in LX’s resale values. But will buyers of full-size, luxury SUVs who don’t plan on tackling the far corners of the earth be satisfied with a tippy, not particularly handsome vehicle with a dated interior? As tough as the LX 600 is, its biggest threat comes from the handsome Range Rover.

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