New & Used Lexus LX: In Depth
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The Lexus LX is the latest vehicle in the Japanese luxury brand's lineup to adopt its spindle-style grille, but the new front end doesn't disguise the fact that the LX is strikingly different from the other vehicles in the showroom.
The LX is a brute: it's a large sport-utility vehicle that shares its running gear with the Toyota Land Cruiser. All the hardcore towing and off-roading ability built into the Land Cruiser is available in the LX, just behind a layer of features and trim.
The current generation of the LX was introduced for the 2008 model year, as the LX 570, and featured a new 5.7-liter V-8, making 383 horsepower and 403 lb-ft of torque, with a six-speed automatic transmission and new electronically controlled four-wheel drive system. The new LX again shared its frame and construction with the Land Cruiser, but it introduced even more modern airs, including Crawl Control for low-speed boulder crawling, and a new version of the height-adjustable suspension.
Because the LX 570 is designed for true off-road capability, it makes some compromises for passenger comfort and packaging, making it the only Lexus to do so. The tall cabin can feel small with more than four adults onboard. Its third-row seats don't help much, as they're fold-down jump seats that live in the cargo area; the fact that they can't be removed also impinges on usability. While the big V-8 is torquey and the truck relatively quick as a result, the LX still feels big and heavy. Cornering and simply navigating a parking lot can get iffy if you're not careful.
Lexus gave the LX 570 a year off for 2012, bringing it back for 2013 with a modified front end that features the brand's new spindle grille design. The big SUV also gained some additional standard features, including heated and ventilated seats, a rear-seat entertainment system, trim made of African Bubinga wood, and a 19-speaker Mark Levinson speaker system with the Lexus Enform connectivity suite built in. There have been very few changes to the LX 570 since that update.
Lexus LX history
The Lexus LX has always been offered with a single V-8 powertrain over the years, with the full model name—LX 460, LX 470, or LX570—coinciding with the engine displacement at each step. It competes with other big, V-8-powered SUVs, such as the Land Rover Range Rover, Cadillac Escalade, Infiniti QX, and Mercedes-Benz GL-Class.
In the 1990s, Americans couldn't get enough of the rugged mystique of SUVs. At the same time, Lexus was on the rise as a brand and broadening its lineup of vehicles; so it seemed natural for the luxury brand to get a somewhat more luxury-laden and refined version of the Toyota Land Cruiser—one with a little more driveway cachet for upper-class suburbanites.
That's exactly what was delivered when the LX made its debut, for the 1996 model year. As one of the first rivals to the Range Rover, the LX charted new territory for Lexus and brought the brand its first truck entry. With a 212-hp, 4.5-liter in-line six-cylinder engine, four-wheel drive, and solid front and rear axles with separate locking front and rear diffs, the Lexus LX 450 was a serious truck underneath and nearly identical in layout to the Land Cruiser. Extras on the LX 450, other than the badge were limited to mostly cosmetic items like body cladding, wheels, and running boards (which made the LX less practical off-road, enthusiasts were quick to point out), while the LX did get luxury-car must-haves like automatic climate control, premium leather seats, and a little more noise insulation. A third row of seats was included, but these were side-folding jump seats, essentially.
While the first-generation LX (LX 450) models are surely less refined, their powertrains have a rock-solid reputation for durability. But for 1998, a next-generation LX was introduced, called the LX 470 and coinciding with a redesign of the Land Cruiser. This time the LX gained a V-8 under the hood—a 230-hp, 4.7-liter V-8—along with some new electronically controlled aids like an Adaptive Variable Suspension with adjustable height, which greatly improved ride quality (as did the independent front suspension) while maintaining some off-road ability. This generation of LX got some running changes along its long run—first with a power boost to 235 hp and a five-speed automatic, in 2003; then with a new version of the engine, making 275 hp, for 2006. Also in 2006 Lexus broadened standard equipment. Throughout this generation, the LX offered many of the same features found in the LS flagship, including Nakamichi premium sound, a navigation system, and xenon headlamps.