The Car Connection Lexus LX Overview
The Lexus LX is the rugged, gargantuan anchor at the top of the Lexus SUV lineup. A cousin of the Toyota Land Cruiser, it layers glitzy trim and luxury features over a hardcore off-road machine with immense capability.
Like the rest of the Japanese luxury brand's lineup, the LX now wears the corporate spindle-shaped grille. Even the similar face can't hide the fact that the LX is strikingly different from the other vehicles in the showroom, however. Only the Lexus GX is similarly off-road-capable, although it is much more differentiated from its Toyota-brand sibling, the 4Runner.
With the LX, Lexus has a full-size luxury SUV with a pedigree that few can match. It may be more capable than most need, but it's there for those that want it.
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 LX 570—changing to coincide with the engine displacement at each step. It competes with other big, luxurious, V-8-powered SUVs, such as the Land Rover Range Rover, Cadillac Escalade, Infiniti QX80, and Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class.
For 2017, the LX 570 added a host of collision-avoiding safety tech as standard equipment but otherwise remained unchanged. Changes for the 2018 included removing the cramped third row.
The new Lexus LX
The current generation of the LX was introduced for the 2008 model year as the LX 570. It features a 5.7-liter V-8 that makes 383 horsepower and 403 pound-feet of torque, with a 8-speed automatic transmission and a new electronically controlled four-wheel-drive system. The LX again shares 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, things other Lexus models rarely do. The cabin is tall but somewhat narrow and can feel tight 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 and cargo versatility. While the big V-8 is torquey and the truck is relatively quick as a result, the LX still feels big and heavy—because it is. 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. That new look helped differentiate it a little further from its Land Cruiser sibling. The big SUV also gained some additional standard features then, including heated and ventilated seats, a rear-seat entertainment system, trim made of African Bubinga wood, and a 19-speaker Mark Levinson audio system with the Lexus Enform connectivity suite built in. There have been very few changes to the LX 570 since that update.
For 2016, the LX 570 added two more forward cogs—it's now fitted with an 8-speed transmission.
Lexus LX history
In the 1990s, Americans couldn't get enough of the rugged mystique of SUVs. At the same time, the Lexus brand was on the rise 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 well-off 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 inline-6, four-wheel drive, and solid front and rear axles with separate locking front and rear differentials, 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 received 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, just like in the Land Cruiser.
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 5-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.