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The Lexus LX 600 – F TROOP

Car Reviews

The Lexus LX 600 – F TROOP

The Lexus LX 600


Lexus’ all-new LX 600 adds two trim levels its predecessors never had: Ultra Luxury replaces an oil-field CEO’s grounded helicopter, and F Sport, which attempts to blend F-car performance traits and worldwide 4WD durability with somewhat comical results. 

For the first time in decades the badge denotes relative power rather than engine size, and there is no Toyota Land Cruiser alternative. Avoiding the temptation to go ever larger, the Lexus LX is built on the same 112.2-wheelbase and averages a foot shorter than other full-size luxo-utes, making it more manageable to live with on any terrain.

Of course, a smaller box yields a smaller cabin I’d still label full size. I comfortably parked my 75-inch frame behind where I sat to drive, and could squeeze into the third row for a brief trip. Lincoln’s Navigator or the Mercedes-Benz GLS are superior for adults back there, and binge-shoppers have more bag space in an Escalade or Wagoneer. Per the LX 570 tag frame observed, “I want it all. And I want it delivered.”

Beneath all the leather, insulation and amenities the LX 600 is what you’ll see on the news years from now (most probably in white) in locales making lane departure warning irrelevant because there are no lanes…or roads. Look to the full-size spare tire, belt-driven cooling fan, easy-clean lower cabin trim and a fuel door big enough for diesel/DEF in other markets and you’ll see the LX600 is built from the ground up to survive.

Is that overkill for a luxury utility? Maybe. But if you’re towing a two-ton outback trailer far from pavement (or a cell tower) do you really want to find out? A friend’s 210,000-mile, near-twenty-year-old Lexus GX proves another advantage; it still drove as new and had no creaks or rattles.

The LX 600’s twin-turbo 3.4-liter V6 rates 409 horses and 479 lb-ft of torque on premium unleaded (likely why it’s 20 hp above a Tundra). Offering full grunt at just 2000 revs and delivering that grunt through a ten-speed automatic, there’s excellent performance without any ruckus, while only calibrated behinds might notice the V-6 isn’t the previous models’ smoother V8 or inline-six gearing down for descents. The EPA ratings (17/22/19) are superior to all body-on-frame competition–I logged 24 mpg highway, 16 around town–but the only “economical” three-ton boxes are diesel. For the reverse, I found brake pedal response a bit dull initially and touchy beyond, but they get the job done. Although the LX tows a solid 8,000 pounds it does not offer an integrated trailer brake controller.

Cabin noise levels are typically hushed, until the sparkling Mark Levinson sound system is unleashed. Seats are quite comfortable fore and center, and while there are myriad controls—many involving four-wheel drive systems competitors don’t offer—the layout is logical rather than overwhelming. There’s also decent cabin storage and easy cargo area reconfiguration.

Operations are split between a 12.3-inch touchscreen for nav, comms and entertainment up top and a seven-inch panel for climate, terrain, and settings. The driver faces four surprisingly responsive analog gauges, and the central screen varies by drive mode. Plenty of safety systems are standard; I “tested” only the lane-departure/keeping, which (like many) struggled in the rain but didn’t bounce me between lane markers like a pinball.

On decent roads ride quality is fine, in comfort mode wafting down the Interstate like an older Cadillac of similar construction. However, beyond cosmetics, the F Sport package includes “performance” steering and suspension tuning with a rear antiroll bar, bus-size wheels and a limited-slip differential (I wager 95% of owners will never need the limited-slip and the remaining five percent will lie about it). I’ve driven Lexus F cars (the dear departed GS-F among them) that were quite entertaining and wholly appropriate, but this is a three-ton truck sitting six feet high and I don’t see the marginal handling improvement justifiable against ride comfort. You really have to want that bordello red leather to justify an F Sport over the Premium trim.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, not mine, as I much prefer the trim, clean tail—one observer thought it was a Durango or “that new Jeep”—to the nose of any trim. The huge channel down the hood is great fun in precipitation—you can teach your kids steering smoothness making them keep water and snow inside it—but the hood flutter on the highway bugged me since the head-up display was on that vision point. 

While grumbling, widescreens with image fade are less than ideal for “direction of travel up” nav displays; I was constantly reminded to “Attention: Check Rear Seat” even after just putting something or someone in and starting up; the steering wheel and console contouring look stylish but will find most dust, dog hair or fry salt you allow inside; and the metallic-looking console trim appears to be much softer metal than rings or belt buckles that had already left their mark.

The LX 600 will serve any LX owner – or GX driver upgrading – well, and statistically do so for many years. Let’s just hope yours isn’t on the news.

Mr. Whale's been breaking parts for 45 years and writing about it for 30. An award-winning writer, he's served as Technical Editor on several major magazines, been published in more than 40 outlets, and served as driving instructor and motoring book judge. He's a member of the Motor Press Guild, Texas Auto Writers Association, and if you say "It's OK, I'm a racer" to him he'll run to the nearest large body of water.

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