2023 Lexus LX 600 Ultra Lux – Expert Review by David Colman +VIDEO
An SUV Unlike Anything You’ve Seen Before
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
Pay a King’s ransom ($130,995) and you get a conveyance fit for James Bond. Here’s the latest Lexus take on the recently departed Lexus LX/Toyota Land Cruiser. Dubbed LX600, this brute of a Sports Ute stands 74.6 inches Texas tall. To cope with the lift, it comes with fixed running boards. The LX swaggers around on 22-inch forged alloy rims fitted with monster truck-sized Dunlop Grandtrek radials (265/50R22). Weighing just 99 pounds short of 3 tons, the LX600 looks particularly impressive when finished in a show-quality shade of British Racing Green called “Nori Green Pearl.” With its waterfall grill and a blocky exterior, the LX looks like a hulking NFL tackle. And given that its twin turbocharged 3.4-liter V6 produces 409hp and 479lb.-ft. of torque, the LX 600 is always ready to do some serious downfield blocking. Those impressive power numbers add up to an SUV that’s tow-rated for 8000 pounds.
Lexus sells several varieties of the LX 600, with the base model starting at $92,160. There’s also a “Luxury” version available, and both of these variants offer three rows of seating and abundant, reconfigurable storage space. But the one James Bond would select is the top-of-the-line Ultra Lux, which carries a base price of $37,245 more than the entry-level LX. What could possibly justify this kind of pricing discrepancy? Well, let’s bring in “M” from Goldfinger to give you and Agent Bond a complete dissertation on the wonders of Ultra Lux.
The instant you open the door, you recognize that this SUV is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. It’s an artist’s studio, a designer showroom, and a stage set all rolled into one and it’s guaranteed to make your mouth drop wide open, then water. Lexus has concocted the most appealing ensemble of textures, leathers, and materials in order to transform an SUV interior into a suite at the Ritz.
Gone is the third-row bench seat, jettisoned in favor of a pair of fixed-in-place second-row admiral thrones that make captain’s chairs look like folding stools. These twin respites from toil provide full or limited body massages, are equipped with multi-stage heating and chilling elements, and share a complete operational dashboard as well as a pair of video screens. After spending over half an hour in the right-hand back seat, I still hadn’t exhausted all the possible combinations of positioning available. I did, however, manage to discover that you can slide the front seat flat against the dashboard in order to make room for an ottoman which allows you to sleep in peace while your chauffeur drives on.
The front pair of seats are no slouches either. They are finished, like the rest of the interior in an appealing shade of apricot leather, with diamond-stitched inserts and “L” embossed headrests. Fitted throughout the dash, center console and door trim, you’ll find an attractive take on carbon fiber containing strands of upholstery-matching orange highlights. Other interior surfaces are finished in dark chrome that benefits from low sheen to look particularly elegant.
Perish the thought that you might be willing to sully this interior by exposing it to a trip into the outback. But should you decide to do so, you will quickly discover that Lexus has got all the bases covered to make the new LX 600 every bit as off-road competent as the legendary Land Cruiser/LX Lexus that preceded it. Adaptive Variable Suspension gives you enough ride settings to track the Rubicon or summit the slabs at Moab. Air suspension is standard, and allows you to tailor the ride height to the trails you’re tracking. Full-time 4-wheel drive is essential to outback exploration and has long been the cornerstone of this model’s prowess in overcoming challenging terrain. The twin turbo motor connects to all 4 wheels through a ten-speed automatic transmission which can be manually operated with large metal paddles located behind the elegantly tailored steering wheel.
If you have more than a hundred thousand bucks to spend on a luxury SUV, you might be able to find a Range Rover with a more handsome exterior profile, or a BMW X7 with more country club appeal, but neither of those offerings, nor similar ones from Cadillac or Mercedes, come close to matching the guaranteed longevity and minimal operational costs of a Lexus product. Be sure to examine the small print when you make your decision. Bear in mind that Lexus covers the LX600 with a limited warranty for 4 years or 50,000 miles, and provides complimentary maintenance for the first year or 10,000 miles. Then take a long look at how much higher the Lexus brand is rated over the competition in the JD Power Initial Quality Survey.
2023 LEXUS LX 600 ULTRA LUX
ENGINE: 3.4-liter V6, DOHC, 24-valve, aluminum block and heads, twin turbocharged and intercooled
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 17MPG CITY/22MPG HIGHWAY
PRICE AS TESTED: $130,995
HYPES: Legendary and Bullitt-Proof Reputation
GRIPES: Too Nice to Take Off-Road
STAR RATING: 9 Stars out of 10
©2023 David E Colman
2023 Lexus LX 600 Press Kit Options, Specs and Prices
- Luxurious flagship SUV adds standard heated steering wheel
- Ultra-Luxury grade introduces Takanoha wood trim standard and available Sunflare interior
- Nori Green Pearl exterior option available for F SPORT Handling grade
- Standard Rear Seat Entertainment Screen Covers
PLANO, Texas July 28, 2023;– Redesigned from the ground up for the 2022 model year, the 2023 LX 600 builds upon that success with customer-driven updates to the flagship SUV. Since its launch in 1995, the LX has been a luxury SUV icon shaped by an identity distinguished by an indomitable duality. Its comfortable ride quality and long list of amenities have defined it as a luxurious long-range cruiser, yet its tried-and-tested off-road specifications and equipment have taken it beyond the pavement in more than 50 countries and regions around the globe.
Powering LX is a high-output, high-torque 3.4-liter V6 twin-turbo gasoline engine. Refined vehicle control in both on-road and off-road situations is enabled by the Electronically Controlled Brake (ECB) system and Electric Power Steering (EPS).
Beyond the LX’s aluminum doors is a cabin designed for the utmost in comfort and usability. The instrument panel features Lexus Interface with a dual display configuration. A 12.3-inch upper screen and 7-inch lower screen help to create a comfortable driving experience with their variety of views, instrumentation and control adjustments.
LX is offered in five interior color options: Palomino, White/Peppercorn, Circuit Red, Black and Sunflare.
LX’s exterior design pursues a blend of athletic performance, accessible functionality and striking beauty – a combination that began with the 2022 NX. Key to LX’s design are optimized proportions that combine sophistication with power and presence.
LX is offered in seven exterior color options: Eminent White Pearl*, Atomic Pearl, Manganese Luster*, Nori Green Pearl, Caviar, Ultra White (F SPORT Handling) and Black Onyx (F SPORT Handling).
*Available for $595 premium paint fee
KEY TECHNICAL FEATURES
The 2023 LX 600 maintains the GA-F platform introduced in 2022, which increased body rigidity to achieve a smooth composure and superior comfort level, according to Lexus Driving Signature. The LX provides a predictable, balanced comportment during turning, acceleration and deceleration maneuvers, plus improved stability when driving off-road.
To achieve both a high level of off-road driving performance and on-road handling stability, the front high-mounted double wishbone suspension, suspension geometry and optimized coil springs offer both excellent vehicle stability and ride comfort. The suspension stroke, which is an important factor for off-road driving performance, is made sufficiently long with 100 mm/3.93 in. of bound and 145 mm/5.7 in. of rebound to help achieve both exceptional on and off-road driving performance.
POWER + LINEARITY: 3.4-LITER TWIN-TURBO V6 AND DIRECT SHIFT-10AT
The 3.4-liter V6 twin-turbo gasoline engine (V35A-FTS engine) produces an output of 409 hp (415 PS) and maximum 479 lb.-ft. of torque and maintains maximum torque in a wide range up to about 3,600 rpm, making it easier to handle not only during on-road driving but also during off-road driving, which can require frequent use in the low-speed range.
The Direct Shift-10AT produces a smooth start that only a torque converter can provide, as well as manual transmission-like direct acceleration by activating lockup in almost its entire range of operation (except when the vehicle starts from a stop). The cross gear ratio setting – which brings the gear ratios of each stage closer together – and the quick gear shift time make for crisp gear shifting at regular intervals, creating a driving rhythm that is in harmony with the sound of the engine.
A wide range of gear ratios is employed for strong starting comfort as well as high-speed driving. The low first gear increases the driving force when starting at low speeds, providing a smooth start and powerful low speed off-road driving performance.
An oil pan guard is installed to the lower body of the automatic transmission, which has been designed for off-road performance, to help reduce the risk of oil pan damage due to unplanned hits to the underfloor that might occur when conquering rocky roads.
ON-ROAD PERFORMANCE VIA THE LEXUS DRIVING SIGNATURE
The high-output, high-torque twin-turbocharged engine, Electronically Controlled Brake (ECB) and Electric Power Steering (EPS) further deepen the Lexus Driving Signature by delivering driving performance that seamlessly connects deceleration, steering and acceleration in all situations, while the use of the Active Height Control (AHC) system and Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) help provide improved grip, traction and control as well as a sense of strength and security.
ACTIVE HEIGHT CONTROL (AHC) SUSPENSION AND ADAPTIVE VARIABLE SUSPENSION (AVS)
The AHC suspension, which allows the ride height to be adjusted according to the driving environment, comes with a range of ride height positions. While ride height is adjusted through the use of shock absorbers, gas and hydraulic springs and metal springs, a spring rate switching device is used for the rear wheels as well, reducing the time needed to adjust ride height. There are three settings for vehicle height while the vehicle is in motion (Normal, Hi1 and Hi2) and a Low setting for passenger ingress and egress.
The system automatically adjusts vehicle height depending on the activation of Drive Mode Select or Multi-Terrain Select and the selection status of the transfer case. Ride height status can be displayed not only on the gauge panel but also on the 7-inch touch display. Additionally, AHC not only adjusts the vehicle height but also responds to changes in vehicle posture, such as the amount of pitch and roll, and it stabilizes vehicle posture during turning, acceleration and deceleration by optimizing the spring rate as needed.
The suspension automatically adjusts to Hi1 or Hi2 in line with the road environment in coordination with the transfer case being in the L4 range or with the mode selected during the use of Multi-Terrain Select. When Hi1 or Hi2 is selected, the system automatically adjusts the vehicle height according to the vehicle’s speed to help avoid interference with the road surface and improve handling stability.
The springs are softened to help provide a comfortable ride when overcoming bumps during in-town driving and are stiffened to help ensure a flat and stable ride when going around curves. An added benefit: vehicle height automatically adjusts when the vehicle is in motion, and when at a standstill, lowers for easier passenger ingress and egress.
Changing to a linear solenoid valve system offers excellent damping force switching response, providing intricate and smooth control depending on the road surface and driving conditions.
ELECTRIC POWER STEERING (EPS) AND ELECTRONICALLY CONTROLLED BRAKE (ECB)
EPS uses the motor and reduction gear instead of conventional hydraulics. It enables subtle tuning and provides a light steering sensation at low speeds, such as when driving off-road, and full steering weightiness at high speeds. The vehicle responds faithfully and linearly to steering operations. At low speeds, the light steering sensation contributes to reducing driver burden, and at high speeds, a moderate steering force in line with the vehicle’s speed provides a driving experience that is distinctive of Lexus Driving Signature.
The Electronically Controlled Brake system employs a sensor to detect the degree of brake pedal depression and creates braking force with the hydraulic brakes for more linear braking characteristics. When Multi-Terrain Select is selected for off-road driving, the system is designed to ensure a high level of driving stability through detailed braking control to counter slipping or spinning wheels.
WHEEL, TIRE AND REAR TORSEN® LIMITED SLIP DIFFERENTIAL (LSD) PERFORMANCE
In addition to off-road driving performance, 22-inch forged aluminum wheels, the largest in the Lexus lineup, enhance on-road performance.
Exclusive to F SPORT grade, a Torsen® LSD is employed to help ensure traction performance of the rear tires. When accelerating during a turn, it optimally distributes the driving force according to the load on the rear left and right wheels to achieve a high level of control performance. In straight-line driving, it responds well to changes in road conditions, contributing to stability.
INHERITANCE OF HERITAGE
LX inherits the golden ratio of a 2,850 mm/112 in. wheelbase, which has been carried over from the first generation in 1995, to provide both high-level performance on rough terrain and a spacious interior. The ground obstacle angles (approach angle, departure angle and ramp break angle), maximum stable inclination angle of 44 degrees, climbing ability of 45 degrees and maximum river crossing performance of 700 mm/27.5 in. are maintained at the same level as the previous model.
19.3-INCHES OF SCREEN ACCESS
The instrument panel features a 12.3-inch upper screen and 7-inch lower screen designed to inform, not distract. The upper 12.3-inch display shows navigation, audio controls and the Multi-Terrain Monitor during off-road driving. The lower 7-inch touch display shows the climate control screen and serves as a driving-support screen for Multi-Terrain Select. Displaying the camera image on the upper screen while simultaneously displaying the real-time vehicle status on the lower screen allows the driver to monitor off-road driving conditions without switching the display.
EVOLVED MULTI-TERRAIN SELECT (MTS)
LX also features Multi-Terrain Select, which allows the driver to select from six modes – Auto, Dirt, Sand, Mud, Deep Snow and Rock – to support off-road driving conditions. In addition to conventional brake hydraulics, the drive power and suspension are integrated and controlled for optimization according to the selected mode, making it possible to match driving performance to road conditions.
In addition, the operating range of Multi-Terrain Select is from low range (L4) to high range (H4). The Auto mode uses information from various sensors to estimate the road conditions while driving and to optimize brake hydraulic pressure, driving force and suspension control. This feature allows the driver to maintain ideal driving performance in various driving conditions, without having to switch modes.
Engaged when the vehicle is in low range, Crawl Control allows LX to move forward or in reverse at one of five driver-selected low-speed settings: LO, MIDL, MID, MIDH and HIGH. Crawl Control intuitively orchestrates the engagement and disengagement of engine output and hydraulic braking pressure to help reduce tire slippage and optimize chassis behavior.
DOWNHILL ASSIST CONTROL
When descending a steep slope, the system is designed to automatically control the hydraulic pressure of the brakes on all four wheels to support stable descent without locking the wheels. Because the selected vehicle speed is maintained through the operation of a switch, the driver can concentrate on steering operations without worrying about braking and accelerating, thus reducing the burden on the driver.
MULTI-TERRAIN MONITOR (MTM)
The Multi-Terrain Monitor uses four cameras to help the driver see around the vehicle. The images captured by the front, side and rear cameras can be interchanged and are shown on the entire 12.3-inch display, allowing the driver to check road conditions, which are often in the driver’s blind spots.
By switching to the Back Underfloor View, images of the foreground taken in advance are provided to the driver as transparent-underfloor images. By superimposing the vehicle and wheel position over this image, the driver can check underfloor conditions and front-wheel position. In another view, the vehicle is made transparent, and an image showing the area around the rear wheels is magnified. This can enable the driver to ascertain conditions around the rear wheels and estimate distances to obstacles.
ULTRA LUXURY AND F SPORT GRADES
The four-seat Ultra Luxury grade enhances the LX lineup with special attention paid to the rear passenger space and their experience. To help achieve an unparalleled comfort level, the front seat can move forward, and the seat reclining angle can be controlled up to 48 degrees. Additionally, the rear seat display, behind the front passenger seat, can fold down to allow for forward visibility, offering an airy VIP seating experience with a maximum leg space of 1,100 mm/43 in. This seating posture is easily achieved with the push of one rear control panel button. A footrest behind the front passenger seat can be deployed to provide maximum comfort, from head to toe.
The rear seats feature Ultra Luxury-exclusive curved headrests, seatbacks and cushions that gently wrap around the head, hips and lower body. The crafted VIP seating helps to offset any lateral G-forces and irregular road surfaces. The seats are shaped to help maintain a secure posture, while the use of soft urethane with superior vibration absorption performance helps to suppress unwanted movement – even in off-road driving conditions.
Added comfort features such as sunshades on the side and quarter windows, reading lights and a rear seat display are standard. An Ultra Luxury-exclusive air conditioning system offers unique overhead ceiling vents for a full body comfort breeze experience.
A product of relentless imagination and human-centered design, no surface is overlooked. The rear control panel, which centrally manages all functions and equipment of the rear passenger experience, has been carefully crafted for a seamless and intuitive guest experience. The space for wireless charging has been lowered to ensure visibility while seated in a reclined position. Cup holders are equipped with a lid, and, with the lid closed, the resulting surface, which is coated with a scratch-resistant self-healing paint, can be used as a note table. The large console box provides ample storage space, and the DC power supply, USB and headphone jacks located within provide added functionality.
F SPORT Handling
Guests preferring a sportier look and feel can select the F SPORT Handling grade with its unique design touches and handling.
Styling features of the F SPORT Handling grade include exclusive 22-inch forged aluminum wheels and F mesh design spindle grille with jet-black chrome grille frame. Inside, the steering wheel and shifter are wrapped with textured genuine leather for great style and grip, while the exclusive F SPORT emblem is applied throughout. A custom crafted F designed seat further enhances hold against lateral g-forces. Ultra White (exterior) with Circuit Red (interior) are offered as an F SPORT Handling grade exclusive.
Driving performance for the F SPORT Handling grade features uniquely tuned standard front and rear performance dampers, a Torsen® LSD and a rear stabilizer. Special tuning of the EPS and AVS offers performance focused response and handling stability that only the F SPORT Handling can provide.
The interior and exterior design marries superior function with stunning aesthetic. The front A-pillars are pulled rearward to create a cab-backward design, and a stout torso and 22-inch wheels (the largest in the Lexus lineup) express a dynamic driving image. For its spindle grille, a three-dimensional shape comprised of seven sets of floating bars creates a seamless and frame-free structure. It is style rooted in function: fine-tuning the thickness of each bar to the millimeter achieves not only a new look but also provides the high-level cooling performance required for the twin-turbo engine. The side radiator grilles also have large openings to ensure cooling performance and are shaped to provide a high-level rectifying effect.
For the headlamps, the L-shaped clearance lamps (with daytime running lamp function) have a three-dimensional shape, and their inner lenses are doubled, with each having a different level to give a sense of depth and change depending on the viewing angle.
The sides portray a strong sense of unity and mass, with a thick, horizontal torso running the entirety of the profile, blending through to the muscular rear wheel arches. The LX’s quarter pillars narrow from the roof to the back window, while a distinct chiseled flow from the underside of the vehicle runs up from the lower edge of the rocker panels to behind the rear tires.
The redesigned rear LEXUS logo symbolizes the next generation of Lexus. For the rear combination lamps, tail lamps have been adopted that combine an L-shape and a continuous axial flow from the front to the shoulders and then to the rear silhouette.
LEXUS INTERFACE: INTUITIVE CONNECTED MULTIMEDIA SYSTEM
The North American-developed Lexus Interface multimedia system allows the LX to seamlessly integrate and navigate life’s twists and turns. The Lexus Interface’s 12.3-inch upper touchscreen with added LX-exclusive 7-inch lower touchscreen, provides intuitive technology at the occupants’ fingertips. The screen’s Human Machine Interface (HMI) enhances user interaction through sight, touch and voice, while balancing accessibility needs.
Lexus Interface incorporates a Voice Assistant developed with a human-centered approach. The Voice Assistant is intended to be the primary way guests interact with the new multimedia system. Designed with dual microphones with speaker location capability and enhanced noise-cancellation, the system enables a voice-first approach allowing front seat occupants an expanded and interactive experience to access navigation, media, phone and other vehicle control settings.
With the ubiquitous use of smart phones, an intuitive and simple guest experience is possible with Lexus Interface. With the Lexus Interface User Profile feature, the driver’s personalized settings and experience can be retained in the cloud and remain accessible on the go in other Lexus Interface equipped vehicles. Once a profile is created in the Lexus App, guests can use a Bluetooth® handheld device, smart key or manual login to access it.
The Lexus Interface native navigation system was designed with ease of use and functional beauty in mind. Featuring 100% cloud capability and integrated Google Points of Interest data, the system allows faster and more accurate directions and mapping. Over-the-air (OTA) updates offer real-time updates for mapping and enriched media experiences. The native navigation is also available to occupants with or without a network connection. Offline mode detects when the vehicle is near or entering an area with low connectivity and downloads applicable maps and services in advance.
LEXUS SAFETY SYSTEM+ 2.5
The LX comes standard with Lexus Safety System+ 2.5, which brings a suite of key active safety features to the vehicle. For starters, the Pre-Collision System (PCS), which includes Frontal Collision Warning (FCW), Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), Pedestrian Detection and Bicyclist Detection, features an enhancement to the lens camera and millimeter-wave radar elements to expand the response range. At intersections, the system has the capability under certain conditions to recognize an oncoming vehicle when performing a left-hand turn, or a pedestrian when performing left and right-hand turns, and is designed to activate typical PCS functions if needed. Additional PCS functions include Emergency Steering Assist (ESA), which is designed to assist steering within the vehicle’s lane as cued by the driver.
All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC) can be activated above 30 mph and is designed to perform vehicle-to-vehicle distance controls down to 0 mph and can resume from a stop. DRCC also includes a feature that allows for smooth overtaking of slower vehicles. If traveling behind a vehicle going slower than the preset speed, once the driver engages the turn signal, the system will provide an initial increase in acceleration in preparation for changing lanes; and, after the driver changes lanes, the vehicle will continue acceleration until it reaches the original preset driving speed.
Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/ SA) is designed to help notify the driver if it senses an inadvertent lane departure at speeds above 32 miles per hour via steering wheel vibrations or audible alert. It can also take slight corrective measures to help keep the driver within the visibly marked lane. When DRCC is set and engaged, Lane Tracing Assist (LTA) is designed to provide slight steering force to help steer to the center of the lane to assist the driver with staying in the lane using visible lane markers or a preceding vehicle. LTA alerts the driver with a visual warning and either an audible alert or steering wheel vibration.
Additional Lexus Safety System+ 2.5 features include Intelligent High Beams, which detects preceding or oncoming vehicles and automatically switches between high beam and low beam headlights. Road Sign Assist (RSA) is designed to acquire certain road sign information using a camera and navigation maps when data is available and displays them on the multi-information display (MID).
The 2023 LX 600 will go on sale by the end of 2022.
Lexus’ passion for brave design, imaginative technology, and exhilarating performance enables the luxury lifestyle brand to create amazing experiences for its customers. Lexus began its journey in 1989 with two luxury sedans and a commitment to pursue perfection. Since then, Lexus has developed its lineup to meet the needs of global luxury customers in more than 90 countries. In the United States, Lexus vehicles are sold through 244 dealers offering a full lineup of luxury vehicles. With six models incorporating Lexus Hybrid Drive, Lexus is the luxury hybrid leader. Lexus also offers nine F SPORT models, two F performance model and one F model. Lexus is committed to being a visionary brand that anticipates the future for luxury customers
DAVID E COLMAN
Dad jumpstarted my automotive career by taking me to the Indy 500 ten years in a row. During that decade he generously bought me a trio of new cars to drive: a C1 Corvette followed by two XKE roadsters. By 1970, I purchased my first new Porsche, a 911S Targa. The Porsche immersion has continued with a succession of newer models: 1970 914-6GT, 1983 944, 1987 944T, 2003 911 Turbo X50 Aerokit, 2011 911 GT3 RS and 2016 Cayman GT4. This "buy your own press fleet" exposure helped launch my literary career when I co-founded Excellence Magazine in 1987. I have written hundreds of reviews and profiles for Excellence over the past three decades.
I also covered motorsports for The Wheel, SCCA's San Francisco Region newspaper, as well as racing events for the Marin Independent Journal. Other outlets over the years have been The San Francisco Chronicle, Autoweek, Bimmer, Forza and Sports Car International. I started a weekly new car review in 1986 at the Marin IJ and subsequently continued it with the San Francisco Examiner. I am currently a Senior Writer for Vintage Motorsports magazine, and have written numerous race reports and feature articles for that publication.
My weekly reviews first hit the internet at CarReview.com and play today only on TheAutoChannel.com. I was a co-founder of the Western Automotive Journalists (WAJ), a press group formed to track-test vehicles at local road racing circuits. Since 1986, I have driven and evaluated a manufacturer-provided new vehicle just about every week of every year.
I have also been a long time competitor in Porsche Club and SCCA track and autocross events. I was sponsored by BF Goodrich tires for a number of years, and later by Yokohama Tires. My record book at the SCCA's annual Solo 2 National Championship event shows ten consecutive years of entries and trophy successes in a variety of classes. I also earned Top Time of Day at the Porsche Club of America's annual Parade Driving Event in my one owner 914-6GT.
I learned to write proper English in Sidney Eaton's English class at the Noble and Greenough School in Dedham, Massachusetts. Later, I majored in American Literature at Middlebury College (AB) and subsequently earned two Master of Art Degrees from the University of California: English (UC Santa Barbara); History of Art (UC Berkeley). So I'm a pump jockey and a word jockey.