2022 Lexus LX Review: Flagship Four-wheeler

For the first time in a long time, a redesigned LX tops the Lexus SUV roster.

2022 Lexus LXChristian Wardlaw

Review QuickTakes:

Read through the Lexus website to learn about the new 2022 LX 600, and you'll find nary a mention of the Toyota Land Cruiser, which exited the US market in 2021. That's odd, considering the Lexus LX is that legendary SUV wrapped in the trappings of luxury. Maybe company insiders are counting on the Cruiser faithful to spread the word, leaving the marketing team to focus on people who care more about leather, wood, technology, a great stereo, design presence, and a brag-worthy price tag.

In any case, the redesigned 2022 Lexus LX is a Toyota Land Cruiser that’s been properly modernized, appropriately silenced, and is now rewardingly powerful. The big Lexus is ready to patiently wait at suburban security gates or tackle tough trails at a moment's notice. But, as is usually the case with single-purpose vehicles modified for alternate uses, those modifications tend to compromise the "luxury" part of the large luxury SUV class.

For this 2022 Lexus LX review, I test-drove the F Sport Handling model in Southern California. It came with a high-end Mark Levinson premium audio system, an active height control suspension, a carpeted cargo mat, and roof-rack crossbars, bringing the manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) to $107,490, including the $1,345 destination charge. Lexus provided the vehicle for this LX 600 review.

2022 Lexus LX Review: The Design

There is nothing subtle about the Lexus LX 600. With its big grille, blistered wheel arches, and bold lighting elements, you cannot mistake it for anything but a top-of-the-line Lexus SUV.

2022 Lexus LXChristian Wardlaw

My test vehicle wore Manganese Luster paint (dark gray), one of four hues you can choose for the F Sport Handling model. The others are black, white, and Atomic Silver, which has a warm undertone. Lexus makes up for this bland exterior palette with an available Circuit Red semi-aniline leather interior. Unfortunately, it is the only other choice aside from black, and my opinion is that it’s too bright for what is supposed to be a dignified vehicle. Even one with F Sport badges on it.

Though you'll catch whiffs of Toyota here and there, Lexus decks out the LX 600's cabin with quality materials assembled with care. The leather is soft, smooth, and supple, and the F Sport's genuine aluminum trim matches nicely with the gray dashboard stitching.

2022 Lexus LX interior front seatsChristian Wardlaw

Lexus logically lays out most of the controls. Large knobs on the center dashboard panel look like stereo volume and tuning knobs, but instead, they control the driving modes and the 4WD system's transfer case. Three digital displays show instrumentation, infotainment, climate, and other data but are not arranged optimally and lack a cohesive appearance.

In my experience, the LX 600's running boards are helpful only when loading people into the third-row seat or when getting in and out with the SUV's available height-adjustable suspension in a high setting, such as when off-roading. Otherwise, they get in the way. They ought to be power-deploying units that owners can turn off if they prefer — a feature present in the LX’s competition.

Once aboard the LX 600 F Sport Handling, you'll find richly upholstered, widely adjustable, heated and ventilated front seats. After hours on the road, they remain comfortable. A single-panel power sunroof over the front seats is standard. However, unlike several competitors, the Lexus LX does not offer a panoramic sunroof.

2022 Lexus LX interior rear seatsChristian Wardlaw

The rear door frames can impede second-row entry and exit, and this seating location offers just enough legroom for taller adults. The test vehicle had a four-zone automatic climate control system, heated and ventilated rear seats, and window shades that covered the entire window.

There is nothing graceful about entering and exiting the third row. The pathway is exceptionally narrow, and once you squeeze through, you'll find a short seat cushion lacking leg support and no foot room underneath the second-row seats. The knee room is decent, though. Nevertheless, the third row is likely to be found comfortable by children.

Storage space is lacking, too. Up front, Lexus provides cupholders, a tray, and door panel bins. A coin box to the left of the steering wheel is unlined, allowing things you place there to potentially vibrate and rattle. Surprisingly, the glove compartment is also unlined, paneled in hard, slippery plastic instead of the expected black felt material.

The test vehicle had a refrigerated storage box between the front seats. The opening is laughably small, but the box is deep. You can stack four single-serving beverages in there, but using it for other purposes is problematic. Rear-seat passengers get a minimum of storage unless you spring for the Ultra Luxury model and its individual, fixed rear seats separated by a massive console.

Essentially, you can use the third-row seat, or you can carry things, but you can't do both at the same time. Cargo space behind the third-row seat measures 11 cubic feet, enough to line up a row of paper grocery bags, and that's about it. Scant underfloor storage exists, forcing Lexus to Velcro the first-aid kit to the third-row seatback. There are no hooks on which to hang plastic grocery sacks, and there isn't a lower ledge to hold items in the vehicle, so when you open the tailgate, things can easily tumble out of the SUV.

2022 Lexus LX interior cargo area luggageChristian Wardlaw

Fold the third-row seat down, and you have 44 cubic feet of space behind the back seats, plenty for a long road trip for four people. (With Ultra Luxury trim, which doesn't have a third-row seat, the measurement is 41 cu.-ft.) Fold the second-row seat down, and the Lexus LX carries 64 cu.-ft. of cargo (71 cu.-ft. with the base trim level). Unfortunately, the Ultra Luxury model's second-row seats do not fold, so you cannot expand its cargo capacity.

2022 Lexus LX Review: The Technology

Lexus equips the 2022 LX 600 with an 8-inch digital instrumentation panel, a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system, and a 7-inch vehicle information display. Additionally, a head-up display is standard on all but the base version of the SUV.

2022 Lexus LXChristian Wardlaw

In my opinion, these four displays lack a cohesive appearance, as though separate teams developed them and didn't communicate much with one another. Also, the digital instrumentation display is smaller than I’d like for how much information is displayed together, which makes it hard to find what you seek at a glance. In addition, the head-up display is illegible if you're wearing polarized sunglasses.

The Lexus Interface infotainment system uses the company's latest hardware and software, and the test vehicle had an active connected services plan, so it responded promptly and accurately to my usual voice command tests. To the screen's left is a power/volume knob with shallow depth, which can make it hard to use. Below that, near the bottom left corner of the display, is the engine start/stop button, which I kept reaching for to adjust the stereo volume because it lives in the typical location for that function. Unfortunately, the wireless smartphone charger on the center console seemed to work haphazardly.

The test vehicle had the optional Mark Levinson Reference Surround Sound system with 2,400 watts of power and 25 speakers. It was fantastic, and the speaker grilles have an intricate, compelling design.

2022 Lexus LX safety featuresChristian Wardlaw

Every LX 600 comes with Lexus Safety System+ 2.5 (LSS+ 2.5). It includes a long list of advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS), including adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, lane-centering assist, and automatic high-beam headlights. Lexus further fortifies the LX with blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, parking sensors, automatic rear braking, and a surround-view camera system.

My experience with the driver-assistance systems in the LX proved similar to that with other Lexus and Toyota models: It works well, but the lane-centering assist system can be irritating. The system makes minor, noticeable steering corrections that don't always align with what you want or expect.

Also, I experienced an incident while driving on the freeway when the LSS+ 2.5 lost its ability to "see" as the road crested a couple of small hills, resulting in lane departure without any warning or lane-keeping assistance.

2022 Lexus LXChristian Wardlaw

2022 Lexus LX Review: The Drive

By swapping the previous-generation LX's 5.7-liter V8 engine for a new twin-turbocharged 3.4-liter V6, Lexus adds power and considerably improves EPA-rated fuel economy from 14 mpg to 19 mpg in combined driving. Lexus says the twin-turbo V6 makes 409 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque, employs a 10-speed automatic transmission and full-time four-wheel-drive (4WD) system, and accelerates to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds.

Multiple driving modes alter the LX 600's driving character. They include Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport+, Sport S+, and Custom, which allows you to choose specific powertrain, steering, and suspension calibrations. Additionally, the 4WD system equips the Lexus LX with a choice between 4-Hi and 4-Lo and features Multi-Terrain Select (MTS). Activate MTS, and you can select Auto, Dirt, Sand, Mud, Deep Snow, and Rock traction settings. Furthermore, the LX has a locking center differential, Downhill Assist Control, and Crawl Control, a low-speed, off-road cruise control system.

The test vehicle's double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension came with an adaptive damping suspension (standard on all but the base trim) and an optional Active Height Control air suspension with five settings. Lexus says it tunes the suspension for on-road performance in the F Sport Handling specification. In addition, this model gets a larger set of 22-inch forged aluminum wheels wrapped in lower-profile tires, a rear stabilizer bar, and a limited-slip differential.

2022 Lexus LXChristian Wardlaw

While this sounds appealing, I found the suspension to be the least pleasing thing about driving the new LX. No matter the driving mode, the SUV's ride and handling qualities feel unnatural from behind the steering wheel in nearly all daily-driving scenarios.

For example, when driving on Los Angeles freeways and crossing bridges that are not precisely level with the road surface, the LX first reacts to the transition with soft compliance. Then, it suddenly stiffens, creating a momentarily choppy, fore-and-aft rocking motion. Any road with dips, humps, and undulations can cause these spasms, and it feels like what I presume you might experience if you were driving an old luxury SUV with a collapsed air suspension. Overall, it is a disquieting sensation.

2022 Lexus LXChristian Wardlaw

Of course, when you're off-roading, this doesn't happen. And the Lexus LX can conquer trails that few owners would dare attempt. Using 4-Lo, the suspension's highest setting, the locking center differential, and the MTS in Auto mode, I effortlessly navigated some deep moguls on a perilous hillside trail that no mere crossover could ever travel. The Lexus remained steady, level, and in contact with the ground. The off-road camera views added confidence, too.

While traveling the tight, twisty roads of the Santa Monica Mountains near Los Angeles, the LX 600 F Sport Handling surprised me with its dynamism. Here, driven in Sport S+ mode, the SUV seemed to defy the laws of physics as I tossed its nearly three-ton curb weight around corner after corner. There is some body lean, and I thought the steering effort level was too heavy in this mode (a problem easily fixed if you use Custom mode instead), but the SUV proved unexpectedly capable in this environment.

The trouble is that drivers spend most of their time slogging through traffic, competing for parking spaces, and droning along on highways. In these situations, the LX 600 isn't as satisfying.

In addition to the wonky suspension motions, the SUV's brake pedal exhibits unpredictable responses in stop-and-go traffic, making it hard to drive the LX smoothly. Additionally, while heading into the Los Angeles area on Interstate 10 in thickening traffic, the LX's brakes began to shudder a little on the long descent into Redlands, which is entirely unexpected in an SUV that is rated to tow 8,000 pounds.

The twin-turbo V6 is quiet and feels more powerful than the automaker's official acceleration time would suggest. You can credit the surge of torque for that. However, based on my experience, the real-world fuel economy disappoints in relation to the official EPA fuel economy rating of 19 mpg in combined driving. During a lengthy round-trip from the northwestern L.A. suburbs to the desert north of Palm Springs, the SUV averaged 19.1 mpg in nearly all highway driving. During the week-long loan, the LX slurped premium gas at 16.8 mpg.

2022 Lexus LXChristian Wardlaw

Is the 2022 Lexus LX a Good SUV?

As it always has been, the Lexus LX is an excellent choice if you're going to travel well off the beaten path. At its core, it is a serious off-roader, gentrified for use as a luxury SUV. And while Lexus makes a valiant effort to mask that original mission, the compromises forced by its true purpose remain evident. That's why I think Lexus should embrace the LX 600's Land Cruiser lineage rather than ignore it.

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Christian Wardlaw
My first word was “car.” That’s what I’m told, anyway. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with them. The design. The engineering. The performance. And the purpose. I’m a car enthusiast who loves to drive, but I’m also most interested in the cars, trucks, and SUVs that people actually buy. Anybody can tell you that a sports car is fast. What you need to know is whether or not you should buy that new SUV, and why. My life purpose is to help you make that decision.