The Toyota Tundra and Lexus NX gave us a peek at what the LX promises, which looks to be really good. Really, really good.
It’s been a long time since the Lexus LX had a facelift—since 2015, in fact. And anyone who hasn’t updated their look and gotten smarter since 2015 is due for a makeover, right? The LX 3 row luxury SUV is so near and dear to our hearts, so the 2022 Lexus LX 600 is one we’re excited about.
Our hearts beat just a bit faster about the future of LX when Toyota announced the full-on renovation of the Tundra, which is essentially the foundation of the LX— of all Toyota’s SUVs, for that matter.
You can see what we mean about changes to the Tundra here and here:
And then, Lexus rolled out the all new NX compact SUV, which we got a chance to drive, and our suspicions were confirmed. This is really good, from the fundamental drive and ride capabilities, to the refined and updated cabins to the multimedia and connected technologies. The LX will, no doubt, give Lexus fans and loyalists all they’ve been waiting for in terms of passenger amenities and comforts, smart connected media, advanced driver assist and safety systems and off road chops that are tempting enough to (maybe) entice you to take a $100,000 luxury family car off road.
Let’s Start with Luxury: The Ultimate Perch for Back Seat Drivers?
The top of the line LX 600, as it looks from the media materials, offers a limo-like experience in the rear seat, especially in the passenger-side seat, which is the seat to call dibs on. Not only is the seat heated, massaging and cushioned for pampering support, but a foot rest lowers from the seat back, the front seat slides and folds forward, and the entertainment screen folds, giving the rear seat passenger a full view of the road ahead. This is not the place to park a picky back seat driver, unless it’s you, of course.
Rear seat passengers can both have heated and massaging seats, and there are 3 screens available for them: Individual seat back entertainment screens and a command center screen that appears to have seat and climate controls. This screen is on a cantilevered console between the seats; it reminds us of the rear seat luxury advancements we saw in the Mercedes-Benz S Class and the Jeep Grand Wagoneer.
Luxury Seating… And a Wait and See Verdict for the Third Row
Lexus says that passenger seats are sculpted and crafted for ultimate passenger comfort, especially when off roading or on bumpy city streets—who has those?—though we wonder, will they accommodate child passenger safety seats very well? That’s one test we will definitely put this car to when we have the chance.
The rear cabin, according to the media materials, looks quite sumptuous but also raises a question (which we think we know the answer to): Is some or all of this customizable? If we need the third row even occasionally, the center seat center console can make accessing the third row a challenge.
It does look like the third row has been redesigned to function more conventionally: for 2022, the seats fold into the floor, creating a flat cargo space (in prior models the seats fold up against the cargo area wall). With center row captains chairs and a passthrough, this is a great configuration. With a center console and slide and fold center row seats, many families will find getting into the third row, especially if you have kids car seats installed, to be a challenge. So this is one of the first questions we’ll ask when we get the chance to take a test drive.
Lexus Multimedia System – for the Win
The driver and front seat passenger, however, will also be be pampered a-plenty. Not only is the space much more refined and elegant, but there are new functions two media screens so no function goes undisplayed.
Probably our favorite is the “Hey Lexus” voice assistant. This is a wonder; Lexus calls it ‘voice first’ controls, so behind the wheel you only need to ask for what you want or need, rather than looking for buttons and controls. You can ask for things you need such as navigation directions, cabin temperature change or a radio station setting; this isn’t all that new, but having a wake word (Hey, Lexus) is. Also new is the intelligent voice assist, which uses cloud-based services to deliver things you’d like to know, such as the temperature at your destination or if Nordstrom is open yet.
This system is integrated into the WiFi and subscription navigation system; the intelligent VA comes along with the subscription. When I first heard about this, I wasn’t so enamored; why not just use Apple CarPlay? But, then I learned that the subscription package includes updated maps that download to the unit based on your search and location, and, it will display on the head up display (if your model is equipped). So, you’re fully connected anywhere you go, whether it’s completely off the grid in the California mountains or sitting in a traffic jam on the 405 and sharing a single cell tower with tens of thousands of other phones. Even though you can’t get a cell signal, you’ll still have some function, such as maps.
Did Someone Say Off the Grid? Oh, Yes, She Can Do That, Too
Another off-shoot of the Tundra framework that is pretty exciting is the off road capability in the 2022 Lexus LX 600. We took the Tundra on a short course and learned some of the great features, including crawl control— set it and let the system crawl up a hill or out of a quagmire; you can adjust the ride height for more ground clearance and a standard skid plate covers the oil pan and automatic transmission so no, sticks and stones can’t break these bones.
Then, Lexus has added multi-terrain select; you can pick your situation: dirt, sand, mud, snow or rock; the default is auto. Unlike the Tundra, which requires the driver to shift to neutral and then select 4 wheel high (for faster 4 wheel drive situations) or 4 wheel low (for slow driving, water fording or crawling through mud, deep snow or over rocks), the Lexus lets you simply push a button. And then, if you want to system to regulate speed, also activate crawl control or on a hill, downhill descent assist; these systems will regulate your speed based on the traction and conditions.
Lexus also added the off road camera system so you can see what’s in front of you, beside you and right under your wheels. I found this really helpful when crawling up a hill; from the driver’s seat I could not see the nice fellow spotting me, but I could see him on the media screen, as well as the rocks I was crawling over. It was awesome.
What Else is New?
This makeover was pretty complete without looking like a disfiguring plastic surgery tragedy. The LX still looks like the LX, just more refined and modernized. The interior looks completely new, though still large and spacious. There’s a new grille, new rear tail lights and a rear light bar with the Lexus name spelled out under it (similar to the NX). Some other notable changes to the Lexus LX 600 include:
- A new design to the entire cabin that gives it an elegant, refined feel; in addition to the streamlined look, there’s open poor wood accents and a large arm rest console that reminds us of the arm rest in the Tundra
- A 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 engine with a 10 speed transmission; while this replaces the V8 it should offer both more power and better fuel economy. Because, really, the prior model averaged 12 MPG in the city! This HAS to get better.
- It’s lighter overall by 441 lbs. due to aluminum doors and other weight savings
- A new Lexus multimedia system with a 12.3-inch upper screen and 7-inch lower screen
- A F Sport model is now part of the LX family; this package offers a sportier look and feel
- Over-the-air updates to the multimedia system that means real-time updates for the map and other media
- Lexus Safety System+ 2.5 is standard and this includes a pre-collision system with front collision warning and automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection and bicyclist detection, adaptive cruise control, lane change assist (when using ACC and signaling a lane change, this system will automate the lane change then resume the set speed); lane departure alert, lane tracing assist and steering assist, and automatic high beam headlights
Pricing and trim levels haven’t been announced yet, but 2021 pricing at least gives us a starting point. The 2021 LX 570 starts at $86,930 for the two row option and $91,330 for 3 row version; both feature 4WD as a standard feature.
And, For Toyota SUV Fans, the Bad News (and Some Potential Good News)
Fans of the Toyota Land Cruiser may find this news disappointing: The company is offering the updated LX in North America but not the Land Cruiser, which will be updated and available in other countries. Rumor has it that the Land Cruiser and LX have such close pricing structures it doesn’t make sense to offer both here, so they went with the more popular LX. However, as Toyota rolls out the revamped lineup of capable trucks and SUVs, we do expect a makeover for the Sequoia.
So those who want all the capability and connected car technology but not the luxe details and limo-like features, there should be a model for you soon. Stay tuned.