BOSTON — I love the Lexus LX.
For years, it was the more luxurious version of the Toyota Land Cruiser which, for years, was the most expensive Toyota-badged vehicle by far. And, if I’m honest, it wasn’t entirely clear why Toyota and Lexus sold both the Land Cruiser and the LX.
They were nearly identical, differing primarily in name only. That’s probably why the company decided not to bring it to the US for the new generation. Instead, we only get the new Lexus LX 600 while the rest of the world gets the Toyota Land Cruiser version. I’m slightly disappointed that the venerable Land Cruiser nameplate is gone from our shores. Still, the LX is assembled on the same production line and is essentially the same vehicle, so it may not matter.
The old flagship Lexus SUV was the LX 570, so named because it had a 5.7-liter V8 under the hood. Many automakers used to name their cars with reference to engine size, but that got tossed by the wayside as smaller-displacement, turbo- and supercharged engines became the norm.
The new one is the LX 600, an inexplicable increase in digits only explainable by the fact that it’s larger and nicely round. Under the hood is a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 making 409 horsepower, the same engine you can find in the new Sequoia and Toyota Tundra. It’s a terrific engine, providing plentiful oomph at all speeds. It’s a pleasure to drive.
And, since it’s a rebadged Land Cruiser, it’s appropriately equipped for nearly any off-road expedition. There’s 4WD, of course, with both high- and low-range gearboxes, plus lockable differentials and adjustable air suspension. But I’m boggled by where the designers put these offroad controls. I’d be shocked if these vehicles ever see anything approaching proper four-wheelin’ in their lives. Yet, the drive mode and high/low range get prime control placement with big chunky knobs right where the temperature controls or radio volume should be. Aside from the steering wheel, these are the most prominent controls in the car, and you’ll barely touch them.
The placement is inexplicable, other than perhaps to show people how much of a Real Off-Roader it is. Instead, we get silly up/down toggles to change the cabin temperature, and both driver and passenger are forever reaching for the wrong knobs.
At least the infernal Lexus trackpad control scheme is replaced by an enormous touchscreen positioned high atop the center stack, supporting the new Toyota/Lexus UI and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. CarPlay looks and works great, and the new Toyota UI is far better than it used to be, although I still prefer the Apple interface.
There are only two cupholders in the center console, although there’s theoretically room for a half-dozen more. Instead, you get a wireless charging mat in the middle of everything just behind the gear shift, plus more storage below the climate controls and the second of two screens. I like this setup, however, with CarPlay on the top screen and all the climate and vehicle controls on a smaller, lower screen. It means I don’t have to toggle away from navigation to change the temperature.
Of course, it’s incredibly comfortable and rides well, with four-corner air suspension and clever Lexus engineering belying the truck’s massive girth. The hourglass Lexus front grille is almost shockingly large, but it suits the vehicle, framed by tri-beam LED headlights and an all-around pleasingly gigantic front end.
The rear is similarly situated, with a new interpretation of the Lexus design language showcasing an edge-to-edge LED taillight situation that looks terrific and helps showcase the sheer bulk of the LX.
I’m running out of words to describe how large this thing feels, which is a little unfair because it’s not any larger than any of the other full-size luxury SUVs like the Jeep Grand Wagoneer or the Cadillac Escalade. But somehow, the LX does feel even bigger than those other trucks, though I can’t put my finger on why.
When I reviewed the old Lexus LX 570 a few years ago, I called it “an impress-mobile,” designed to go anywhere, do anything, and conquer any obstacle, complete with a cooling box in the center console. This new LX does all that with a (slightly) more fuel-efficient engine under the hood and absolutely no pretense about what it is and who it’s for.
This is a giant, three-row full-size luxury SUV for more than $100,000, ready to explore the world in style and comfort. And there’s even an F-Sport version with a wild bright-red leather interior that’ll catch anyone’s eye. Perhaps that’s what the Lexus LX does best: garnering attention and then cruising away, ready to conquer whatever obstacle comes next.