The Lexus LX is a full-size luxury SUV with strong towing and off-road ability. Underneath it all, it's a Toyota Land Cruiser with the Lexus luxury makeover, making it a comfortable, high-tech go-anywhere car.
Over the years, it's come in many configurations based on engine size, as the Lexus LX 460, Lexus LX 470, or LX 570, depending on the model year. Alternatives to the LX include the Cadillac Escalade, Infiniti QX80 (formerly the QX56), Land Rover Range Rover, 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.
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.
Even with this current generation, we found packaging not to be quite up to par with many other larger luxury SUVs. While refinement and comfort are impressive, the LX can feel cramped when more than four adults climb in, and its third-row seats remain ones that flip up and rotate to the side—and can't be removed. And although the big, torquey V-8 can move the LX 570 plenty quick, this monstrous vehicle's size and weight are never far out of mind when a corner comes—or when the need comes to find a parking spot.
The LX 570 went on hiatus for 2012, then Lexus brought it back for 2013 with more standard features, now including rear-seat entertainment, heated and ventilated seats, African Bubinga trim, and a 19-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, as well as the new Enform connectivity system.