Lexus had no way of knowing, of course, when they first started designing the brawny, plush, magnificent $102,000 (with options and delivery charge) LX 600 F-Sport, that gas prices would be what they are today.
But if you’ve got the coin, and you’ve perused all the big lugs available for sale in 2022, this might be your ride. On the surface, it’s not all that distinguishable from a lot of behemoths on the highway, especially for a “flagship.” Its one instantly recognizable feature is its gargantuan front grille, so I used that to find it in parking lots.
But! Inside, it’s got plush, gorgeous red leather, seats that are more comfortable than your living room easy chair, and driving manners that are smooth and satisfying. You really feel expensive in this thing.
The good news is that the badge has been completely redesigned – its first redesign since 2007. It’s big, all right, coming in at 5,665 pounds, but it’s still not as big as the Navigator or Escalade, so it’s (a bit) more manageable.
What’s more, the new LX is now available in five grades: Standard, Premium, Luxury — and for the first time ever, the F Sport – our tester – and Ultra Luxury. Check out the website for trims, prices and features.
The old LX’s gulpy, naturally aspirated V-8 engine is kaput, replaced by a new twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 making 409 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque. That’s coupled with a 10-speed automatic transmission that you barely notice exists – it’s that smooth. Four-wheel drive and a 2-speed transfer case are standard. You’re no speed demon – and you don’t want to be with mileage hovering around 18 city, 21 highway – but you’ll get from 0-60 in about 6.9 seconds. You can also tow up to 8,000 pounds, according to press materials.
You’ve got a new infotainment system with a 12.3-inch touchscreen over a 7.0-inch climate control screen. The old mouse pad, which Lexus clung to for years and was so sensitive it was hard to even use while driving over anything but the smoothest of roads, is gone, replaced by a much more intuitive system.
The F Sport trim offers much in the way of goodies, including a Mark Levinson sound system that goes for $2,600. The sound is right on, with boomy bass, crispy treble and none of the infuriating and incomprehensible features of some Lexus where you’ve been sitting there 15 minutes and still can’t get to the comedy stations. Bravo, Lexus.
You also get F Sport badges, trim-specific front and rear bumpers, smart-looking aluminum pedal covers, a perforated heated leather steering wheel,,22-inch wheels, and seating for seven, where base models only seat five. A Torsen limited-slip rear differential and a sport-tuned suspension system is here for your use, too – odd for an elephantine vehicle, but it’s nice to know you’re so equipped.
One especially cool feature – literally – is a coolbox located in the front center arm rest.
Wireless Apple CarPlay comes with as well as wired Android Auto. There’s also a pad to charge your phone, which worked and then didn’t work and then worked, so I finally just started using my cord. I had no real complaints with the sound/nav/climate system, though – I was just so relieved I didn’t have to deal with the mouse pad.
It’s a thrill once you get rolling – all solid and sure and grippy whether on straightaways or curves, smooth roads or bumpy. You don’t really feel the urge to slam it around as the steering and brakes are ever-so-numb. Slow and steady’s the way to go, and there you will find your fun. But if you need a burst of speed, it’s there.
It does have that maddening mechanism whereby you cannot drive at low speeds with your driver door cracked so as to ease into a parking space and leave just a few inches between, say, a wall and your front bumper. You’ll have to have your passenger jump out and guide you, or use the cameras. At very low speeds, you’ll feel like the parking brake is on. It’s not, it’s designed that way.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not rated this vehicle, but there are a plethora of safety features to either prevent crashes or protect you in the event of one. They include the requisite side and front airbags, automatic braking, automatic wipers, traction control and more.
Gripes aside, I really enjoyed this week’s test, once I discovered what the LX 600 F Sport can and cannot do. It’s a great vehicle for a family road trip, but it’s a really elegant and pleasant ride all by yourself, too. Lexus has eliminated a lot of what people didn’t care for in previous incarnations, and for that reason, as well as its beautiful interior, it’s worth a test-drive and a tire-kick.