After 14 years, Lexus has a new flagship SUV. It’s still related to the LandCruiser, which means it can tow and go off-road with the best of them. However, it’s got a lot of unique elements that help set it apart. We get behind the wheel of the new 2022 Lexus LX.
- Still capable off-road, big wheels notwithstanding
- Spacious and comfortable through all three rows of seating
- More options and specification levels for buyers
- Six-month service intervals won’t suit some buyers
- Four-wheel-drive bones mean it’s not as refined as other big luxos
- Large-diameter wheels limit off-road appeal
The all-new 2022 Lexus LX has arrived in Australia, in both petrol LX600 and diesel LX500d form.
It has been 14 years since a new Lexus LX model, which is the flagship SUV of the Japanese manufacturer’s range. Why such a long wait? The Lexus LX uses the same platform as the Toyota LandCruiser, which just recently went through a full model change after a similarly long period of time.
Using Toyota’s new GA-F ladder-chassis platform, the 2022 Lexus LX is also the only vehicle in Lexus Australia’s range to offer a diesel powertrain, 3500kg towing, and a low-range transfer case.
It’s also the only Lexus in Australia to carry some solid off-road chops. It’s a proper four-wheel-drive vehicle.
The new Lexus LX will be available in four specification grades – more than the previous-generation model. Only the eponymous entry-level variant is available as a seven-seater, while the top-of-the-range Ultra Luxury model seats only four and is available only with petrol power. In between are five-seat Sports Luxury and F Sport variants.
While this big Lexus might share many bones with the Toyota LandCruiser, there is a unique treatment inside and out for the LX, along with a high level of standard equipment. This includes 12.3-inch infotainment and 7.0-inch instrument displays, plus a third 8.0-inch multi-information display. There are 20-inch wheels, a 25-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, leather-accented upholstery and heated/powered front seats.
The seven-seat model has a $5500 Enhancement Pack available, which adds a moon roof, 22-inch wheels, and hands-free kick sensor for the electric tailgate.
Five-seat F Sport gets a sportier treatment of the interior, heating and venting for front and rear seats, and a unique outside look (the black spindle grille being the most prominent part). In terms of running gear, there is a Torsen limited-slip rear differential and sports-tuned dampers.
Sports Luxury doesn’t get the sporty stuff but gains rear-seat entertainment screens, Takanoha wood trim and premium leather seating trim.
Those who like their music will appreciate the inclusion of the 25-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, which is standard fare across the range. I certainly enjoyed it for a while during the test drive, and the speaker covers also carry a unique, eye-catching design.
Both of these specifications benefit from a cooled centre console, easy-close doors and a digital rear-view mirror, among many other things. For the full details, read our pricing and specifications story.
Many of the benefits that came with the Toyota LandCruiser 300 Series are present here: a lower centre of gravity thanks to the lower and more central mounting of the powertrain. The weight has also been reduced by around 100kg thanks to aluminium panels and parts of the chassis being hot-stamped ultra-high-tensile steel.
What are the important differences, then? There’s a unique look, obviously, and a completely different interior treatment. Technology is on a different level as well.
Mechanical differences are most notable through the steering and suspension. Instead of an electro-hydraulic steering system that the LandCruiser has, the Lexus’s steering system is fully electric.
Suspension for the Lexus LX is also different. While there is a familiar layout of a strut-based independent front suspension and four-link live rear axle (shared with the LandCruiser), the Lexus LX carries some extra tricks up its sleeve.
The suspension is height-adjustable through a hydraulic oil system that is linked up to each shock absorber. Along with the typical benefits of being able to be lower (for easier access) or higher (which is better off-road), the hydraulically controlled shock absorbers also mean that the spring rates and damping rates are adjustable through the variety of on-road and off-road driving modes available.
The interior layout is – in many ways – classic Lexus. The quality of materials – along with the overall fit and finish – is first-rate. There are loads of buttons and dials available for the operation of things like air-conditioning and driving modes, which flies in the face of some modern designs.
It might not be the last word in avant-garde modernity, but the flip side here is that it’s easy to use. A traditional layout of climate-control buttons sits below the lower (smaller) display, which allows you to acclimatise quickly to operations.
Ergonomically, the LX is quite comfortable. While there aren’t a huge number of electric adjustments through the seat, the important ones are all there – including lumbar support. And with an electrically adjustable steering column, the Lexus LX is very comfortable to drive.
The second row isn’t what I would call massive, but it’s spacious enough. Legroom is good enough for adults, and headroom is good as well. The seats are comfortable, and the backrests with a 40/20/40 split can be tilted backwards for extra comfort. There’s room for a bottle in the door cards and hard seat-backs with a map pocket.
There are air-conditioning controls on the back of the centre console, along with some air vents (plus more vents in the roof). Power outlets include two USB-C points along with a 12V outlet.
Naturally, the Ultra Luxury is in another league. There are all kinds of massaging options and seat positioning available. The passenger-side rear seat is the one you want, though, which allows a completely reclined position that includes an ottoman. The fully reclined seating position is inspired by a NASA-researched posture designed for the ultimate in comfort and relaxation.
Perhaps more importantly for family buyers is the inclusion of a third row on the least expensive LX500d and LX600 grades. The good news here is that the rearmost seats are easy to access – with a tumble-forward second row – and comfortable enough for adults to sit for a reasonable amount of time.
Sydney to Melbourne might be a big ask, but the more resilient among us would handle a couple of hours in the back without too much complaint.
There are also power outlets in the rearmost rows, with USB-C points and a 220V household plug in the boot area.
In seven-seat mode, the amount of available boot isn’t huge, but there is enough space for something like a family load of groceries. Fold down that third row and the story changes: 982L is fairly massive, and five-seat models get a slight advantage of extra space (1109L).
One big advantage of this Lexus LX over other big SUVs is the inclusion of a full-size spare wheel. It’s underslung and will be a welcome addition to those who spend time on rough, regional and remote roads.
|2022 Lexus LX|
|Seats||Four, five or seven|
|Boot volume (seven-seat)||174L (all seats up)
982L (3rd-row seats folded)
1871L (2nd, 3rd row seats folded)
|Boot volume (five-seat)||1109L (all seats up)
1960L (rear seats folded)
|Boot volume (four-seat)||767L|
Infotainment and Connectivity
Infotainment centres around a 12.3-inch display that has a letterbox-style landscape orientation. And while 12.3 inches of size is similar to what you get in other Toyota vehicles (like the LandCruiser), the Lexus’s system uses the next-generation operating system that debuted on the NX mid-sized SUV.
The operating system is smartphone-inspired with a simple icon-style layout. Having an array of buttons and dials at the ready helps with easy general usage, especially when on the move. And as one would expect, the essentials of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both present and accessible by a USB-A point in front of the shifter. This is joined by a USB-C point along with a 12V power outlet.
The operating system also has a slick navigation system built-in, along with digital radio, ‘Hey Lexus’ voice commands, and software updates over the air.
An extra touch of technology comes through the fingerprint scanner built into the start/stop button. This isn’t there to replace a key, but can be linked up to things like the driver’s seating position.
The second display, lower down on the central stack and measuring in at 7.0 inches, handles climate controls plus off-road and driving mode information. It works well, but Lexus hasn’t thrown the baby out with the bathwater. Physical climate-control buttons – in a traditional layout no less – make the operation of climate control a cinch.
In front of the driver are some unique features for a luxury SUV, and a strong nod to the connection between LX and LandCruiser: battery voltage, oil pressure, and even an idle-up button for the LX500d. These analogue gauges flank an 8.0-inch multifunction display that runs through a typical array of information.
There’s plenty of safety gear available on the Lexus LX that is standard across the range.
Active safety technology uses cameras and radars, with the Lexus Safety System suite included on all models. There’s autonomous emergency braking, which includes intersection detection for pedestrians and vehicles. The system also has steering assistance for emergency manoeuvres through the electric steering system.
There’s also blind-spot monitoring – which also works for people alighting the vehicle – tyre pressure monitoring, low-speed autonomous emergency braking (in forward and reverse), rear cross-traffic alert, lane-trace assistance (a kind of semi-autonomous driving mode), traffic sign recognition and adaptive cruise control.
These systems are well-tuned and don’t get in the way of everyday driving with overzealous reactions. The system seems to pick up on dodgy lane markings and haphazard speed limit signs.
Because the Lexus LX is so new, it is yet to be crash-tested by ANCAP. Considering the LandCruiser 300 Series picked up five stars not long ago, the Lexus has the bones for a good result. However, we won’t know exactly how well it folds up until the test happens.
The starting price of $148,800 puts the Lexus LX in line against an Audi SQ7, whose cheaper starting price gives room for some options. The BMW X7 XDrive30d is 10 grand cheaper at $138,900, and goes up to $184,900 for the 390kW/750Nm M50i grade. And the Mercedes-Benz GLS – which starts from around $164,000 – would be lining up against a Sports Luxury grade.
However, something that none of these competitors offer is proper off-road capability. None of them have things like a low-range transfer case, live rear axle and locking centre differential. And while they proffer to tow 3500kg, I would suggest that the Lexus would be better suited to regular hauling of heavy loads.
These competitors – and their more car-like bones – might hold an advantage in terms of refinement, weight and driving dynamics, but the appeal of a more heavy-duty four-wheel drive with all of the luxury trimmings is a clear one. And in that sense, one could argue that the Lexus LX lines up against things like a Range Rover or even Mercedes-Benz G-Class. And both of those vehicles are on a different plane in terms of pricing.
And, of course, one would need to consider the Toyota LandCruiser as a competitor as well – with the Sahara ZX grade being the most poignant.
Fuel economy is a tricky discipline to decipher on a launch event like this, where you’re jumping in between different specifications and powertrains through a variety of driving conditions. I did manage to eke out around 12 litres per 100 kilometres during a highway run in the LX600, but town driving would likely see a significantly higher number. Lexus suggests around 17L/100km.
Single-figure fuel economy for the diesel LX500d is possible – Lexus quotes 8.9L/100km on the combined cycle. My short experience so far suggests that such a number is unlikely. It’s a big lump of a vehicle, after all.
|At a glance||2022 Lexus LX|
|Warranty||Five years / unlimited km|
|Service intervals||6 months or 10,000km|
|Servicing costs||$3570 (3 years)|
Servicing of the Lexus LX is covered by a capped-price program costing $595 per visit. Intervals are set at every six months or 10,000km, which is twice as often as some competitors.
This could be an annoyance for some buyers, especially if the Lexus is living a cushy life cruising through the leafy suburbs. But on the other hand, those who want to regularly use the towing and off-road capability of the LX will appreciate the closer service intervals.
|Fuel Usage||Fuel Stats|
|LX500d fuel cons. (claimed)||8.9L/100km|
|LX600 fuel cons. (claimed)||12.1L/100km|
|LX500d fuel tank size||80L, 110L (Sports Luxury, F Sport)|
|LX600 fuel tank size||110L (80L main tank, 30L sub tank)|
While the previous-generation Lexus LX launched only with the petrol-powered LX570 variant, Australians’ desire for diesel saw the later introduction of the LX450d, which directly pinched the 200kW/650Nm 4.5-litre turbo diesel V8 from the Toyota LandCruiser.
This time, the Lexus LX is launching with petrol and diesel power straight off the bat. The 3.3-litre twin-turbocharged V6 diesel engine is, again, the same as what you’d find under the bonnet of a LandCruiser, with a hot-vee, sequentially turbocharged configuration and 227kW/700Nm available running through a 10-speed automatic gearbox and full-time four-wheel drive.
The diesel engine is available on all specifications bar the four-seat Ultra Luxury at the top of the pile.
Alongside that familar motor – and with a $3500 price premium – comes a 3.4-litre twin-turbocharged V6 that uses 95-octane premium unleaded fuel.
This engine doesn’t have the same hot-vee configuration as the diesel. Instead of a couple of turbochargers nestled in between cylinder banks, this engine has the cold piping on this side, with an air intake and water-to-air intercooler. The turbochargers are instead located on the outside of the engine, with each unit responsible for three cylinders each.
Something interesting here is that the Toyota LandCruiser got the same bigger, more powerful 5.7-litre 3UR-FSE in other markets around the world. Australia was stuck with the 4.6-litre 1UR-FSE instead, before it got axed and the LandCruiser went diesel only.
Anyway, I digress. While the cylinder count and overall capacity have been reduced on both counts, power and torque have both been improved, along with fuel economy.
The 3.4-litre – Lexus calls it 3.5, but it’s actually 3445 cubic centimetres – V6 is much more lively and responsive than the outgoing 5.7-litre engine, which always felt a little bit lethargic and lazy through the eight-speed automatic gearbox.
It feels torquey and linear – muscular through the middle rev range for good acceleration. Keep the pedal depressed and you’ll discover an engine that’s only too happy to find that near 6000rpm redline.
In comparison, the 3.3-litre turbo diesel doesn’t carry the same kind of eagerness through the throttle. It hustles along quite happily when asked, but prefers to churn along with that healthy dose of torque in the lower end of the rev range.
In both instances, the 10-speed automatic transmission is great. While there’s no shortage of ratios to choose from, it doesn’t feel busy and fidgety as it rolls through them. And most importantly, it’s a smooth experience.
The ride quality of the Lexus LX is different to – and better than – the LandCruiser. The adaptive nature of the suspension through the adjustable ride height allows the big Lexus to dial in a little bit of extra comfort and compliance – even on those big 22-inch wheels.
There are some more aggressive driving modes available, and the Lexus LX proved to be surprisingly capable through fast, tight corners. However, it’s a bloody big car at the end of the day, and 2.7 tonnes isn’t conducive to a great sporting platform. So while it will turn through a corner well – which does help make the car safer in emergency manoeuvres – the strength is in general ride comfort and compliance.
Off-road, our short test loop in a pretty patch of Tasmanian forest did little to stress-test or worry the big Lexus LX. Like the platform-sharing LandCruiser, this Lexus LX four-wheel drive offers good traction and overall capability.
The suspension seemed to articulate nicely on our moderately challenging off-road sections, allowing the Lexus to crawl through our loop without any issues. One would need to drive some harder tracks – and risk damage of the big alloy wheels and low-profile tyres – to find the limit.
Its traction-control systems are also very impressive, and a helpful addition to novice and expert off-roaders alike. Crawl control – a kind of off-road cruise control – operates both in low-range and high-range, allowing the driver to focus only on steering inputs. It’s smooth and easy to use as well.
Off-road traction-control systems are also a good inclusion, with four different modes to choose from. Once again, the test track wasn’t challenging enough to find the limits in this regard, as the Lexus LX didn’t even slip one wheel.
One particular strength is the Dirt driving mode, which Lexus engineers developed on Australian unsealed roads. At first, this driving mode felt too floaty and soft, but with wonderful bump-absorption capabilities. Once I acclimatised to the amount of body movement – and eased my speeds through corners slightly – this mode was great. And if you’re going to be doing some long distances on unsealed, this mode would be of great benefit.
|Key details||LX500d (diesel)||LX600 (petrol)|
|Engine||3.3-litre V6 twin-turbo diesel||3.4-litre V6 twin-turbo petrol|
|Power||227kW @ 4000rpm||305kW @ 5200rpm|
|Torque||700Nm @ 1600–2600rpm||650Nm @ 2000–3600rpm|
|Drive type||Full-time four-wheel drive||Full-time four-wheel drive|
|Transmission||10-speed torque convertor automatic,
low-range transfer case
|10-speed torque convertor automatic,
low-range transfer case
|0–100km/h (claimed)||8.0 seconds||7.0 seconds|
|Tow rating||3500kg braked, 750kg unbraked||3500kg braked, 750kg unbraked|
It feels unfair to compare this Lexus LX against such competitors directly, because it’s not apples to apples. This is an all-new platform, yes. Toyota calls it TNGA-F, but it’s a design and style firmly rooted in traditional four-wheel drive and SUV engineering.
It’s a ladder chassis four-wheel drive, something championed by off-roaders for decades, which is chosen for durability and off-road ability. And just like the platform-sharing LandCruiser, this Lexus LX brings with it independent front suspension.
Other large luxury SUVs with room for seven on board don’t share such a design. They are more car-like, with lighter-duty independent suspension and a unibody chassis. And that’s mostly where those kinds of vehicles hold an advantage in terms of refinement, dynamics and roadholding.
However, the more heavy-duty bones of the LX mean it can do what those others can’t: go off-road – as far as the 20-inch or 22-inch wheels can go at least – and tow 3500kg confidently.
That means this Lexus LX doesn’t compete directly with such vehicles. Sure, they will likely be fighting over the same buyer in some instances, but natural competition would need to be regarded as the Range Rover or Mercedes G-Class.
Both of those vehicles are significantly more expensive than the Lexus LX. I’m not going to call the Lexus LX a cheap alternative, because that would be painting it in the wrong light.
Indeed, the Lexus LX will be competing with its cousin the Toyota LandCruiser as well. Especially against the urban-focussed Sahara ZX.
The somewhat rare appeal of this Lexus LX will be the right mix of luxury, utility and practicality for many Australian buyers, 400 of which have already signed up to purchase one.
Interior Comfort & Packaging
Infotainment & Connectivity
Sam Purcell has been writing about cars, four-wheel driving and camping since 2013, and obsessed with anything that goes brum-brum longer than he can remember. Sam joined the team at CarAdvice/Drive as the off-road Editor in 2018, after cutting his teeth at Unsealed 4X4 and Pat Callinan’s 4X4 Adventures.