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Lexus LX Review: A Rolls-Royce Mixed With A Toyota LandCruiser

"A very fancy off-road monster."

Lexus LX Review: A Rolls-Royce Mixed With A Toyota LandCruiser

Image: Jamie Weiss/DMARGE

Big, bold, capable and very luxurious: Lexus‘ new flagship SUV, the LX, is more than just a tarted-up Toyota LandCruiser LC300… Yet those 4×4 underpinnings make it an exceptionally capable off-roader that doesn’t compromise on luxury.

  • Genuinely sumptuous interior belies its tough exterior and capabilities
  • Bulletproof construction and lack of ‘faff’ gives drivers and passengers confidence
  • Only major weak point: a slightly agricultural drivetrain

Few vehicles were as hotly anticipated in Australia as the new Toyota LandCruiser LC300. Toyota’s first new comfort-oriented LandCruiser in a whopping 15 years, it’s charted a new course for the venerable SUV, ditching the V8 for good while adding adaptive variable suspension, modern infotainment tech and a GR Sport variant for the first time. Read our review of the Toyota LandCruiser LC300 here.

But while the LC300 officially went on sale in Australia in October 2021, demand for the capable 4×4 has been so immense that only a fraction of the Aussies who’ve put an order down for one have actually received their LC300 yet – and with the base GX model now priced over $100,000, second-hand prices for the LC300 are well into the six figures.

Yet the new Lexus LX, which is based on the LC300, doesn’t have the same waiting list woes… And considering how much more luxurious it is compared to its Toyota sibling (for not an insane price premium), we really don’t understand why more Australians aren’t jumping in LXs instead.

WATCH our 60-second review of the new Lexus LX below.

First impressions

The first thing that strikes you with the Lexus LX is, well, how striking it is. The LC300 is already a pretty imposing car, but the LX’s more angular front end gives it even more presence.

Jump inside and you’ll be very impressed by the quality of its interior. The LX 600 Sports Luxury I tested had very tasteful real wood trim, truly sumptuous leather seats and the most solid switchgear I’ve felt in a car. The steering wheel is similarly robust and confidence-inspiring.

I really can’t overstate how nice the interior of the LX is. Not only is it properly bougie, but the fit and finish is unparalleled. It feels bulletproof in the same way that early Lexus models like the first-gen LS were; in that old-school, bulletproof Japanese car way – except with a great deal more sophistication.

The dual-touchscreen infotainment system is a massive improvement over older Lexus systems as well as many rival brands’ systems. Image: Romer Macapuno/DMARGE

Those familiar with the LC300’s interior will also be pleased to know that the LX’s infotainment system is significantly better, with a cool dual touch screen setup where the lower screen is dedicated to climate control as well as information about the car’s braking, acceleration, weight distribution, suspension height and off-road modes.

The coolest thing about the LX? The huge centre console doubles as a cooler. (See what we did there?) But that’s not the only fun gimmick this big Japanese luxury car boasts. Passengers in the back benefit from two headrest-mounted screens – long gone are the days of stringing up a DVD player between the front seats! The top-spec LX 600 Ultra Luxury even goes full Bentley or Rolls-Royce mode and ditches the middle seat in the back in favour of ‘first class’-style rear seating.

RELATED: Bentley Brings First Class Airline Luxury To Cars

The Lexus LX also benefits from active sound control, which is effectively like noise-cancelling headphones just for a car cabin. A big box of a car like the LX would normally generate a lot of wind noise barrelling down the highway at 110km/h, but thanks to its active sound control, it’s very quiet – except for the roar of the engine up front. More on that later.

The screens in the back are a great party trick.
Privacy shades are a characteristic Lexus touch.

Also, more on the LX’s suspension: unlike the LC300, the LX has adjustable air suspension, which you can easily raise or lower at the push of a button. This means you can lower the car to help passengers get in or out (or to have a more conventional driving experience around town), or you can raise the car when you go off-road… Or you just want to show off.

Lexus LX performance

Actually, off-road is where the LX really shines, because – in case I hadn’t made it clear enough – it’s just a LandCruiser underneath, which is to say that it’s one of the best 4x4s ever made and more than capable of conquering anything the Aussie bush and beyond can throw at it. Cleverly tuned off-road modes, its gem of a 10-speed auto transmission and its over ‘see through’ view camera system make it easy for even the most inexperienced off-roader to tackle challenging conditions.

On the tarmac, it’s also very impressive. Put it in Sports+ mode and it is downright dynamic, despite its enormous proportions and high-riding stance. I’m pleased to report that on a long road trip, I scared my passengers more than a few times with the Lexus LX’s overtaking ability.

Despite its genteel Lexus badge, the heart of a rugged LandCruiser beats inside the LX. Image: Jamie Weiss/DMARGE

The downsides (not that there are many)

The only thing that really lets the Lexus down (much like the similarly large and luxurious Jeep Grand Cherokee L I reviewed last year) is its powertrain options. Let’s be clear: the engines available in the LX are both great. The diesel option is the same 3.3L twin-turbo V6 that’s the only option for the LandCruiser, while the LX additionally offers a 3.4L petrol twin-turbo V6, which is what was in the LX 600 Sports Luxury I drove. The diesel is good for 227kW/700Nm while the petrol does 305kW/650Nm.

Both engines are responsive, torquey and powerful – but they’re also both pretty agricultural. When you put your foot down, they really sound truck-like, which you might expect from the diesel powertrain but it was surprisingly coarse to hear the petrol engine sound so similar. I even had to get out and check what engine was under the bonnet the first time I drove the LX, to make sure it wasn’t a diesel! It’s not the sort of engine note you’d expect from a luxury car.

It’s really the only major weak point of the LX, alongside the Dunlop Grandtrek types the car was shod in, which felt a little underwhelming – especially considering the LX gets more premium Yokohama Geolandar tyres fitted in other markets. But these are really nitpicking on what’s otherwise a pretty faultless luxury 4×4.

The Lexus LX is the ultimate road trip vehicle. Image: Jamie Weiss/DMARGE

A value proposition?

As we mentioned above, it’s not that easy to get your hands on an LC300 right now, and LC300s are increasingly rather expensive. As of publishing, a LandCruiser Sahara ZX has an MSRP of $143,101 while the base model Lexus LX 500d has an MSRP of $153,091 – a less than $10,000 difference.

However, the Lexus has a lot more features, including a better infotainment system, a much more refined interior, a more handsome exterior, the option of a third row and is even better off-road out of the box. Yet it’s just as well-built and reliable; it can tow and ford just as much, and it’s just as fast… You get the picture.

The real question is, why not buy the Lexus? Reverse badge snobbery? The Lexus LX is simply a better LandCruiser, with levels of luxury that rival brands that cost double or triple the price. It’s an utterly compelling package and we’re still scratching our heads as to why more Aussies aren’t jumping in LXs.

Find out more about the Lexus LX range at Lexus’ online showroom here.