The Lexus LX600 may be a luxury vehicle, but it’s a true, off-road SUV
by Isaac Bouchard
The Lexus LX600, like its competitor the fullsize Range Rover, operates in a fairly unique category: that of a luxurious flagship that is also a true, offroad-capable SUV. Whether the owners of these vehicles are any more likely to risk scraping their bellies on rocks or scratching their immaculate paintwork travelling down narrow trails is irrelevant. Or, no more relevant than whether buyers of supercars actually take them to a racetrack. It’s knowing their machine is capable of amazing exploits of wheel articulation, water fording or tractive extraction that matter.
The Ultra Luxury is not the version of the LX600 best suited to such duties anyway; it has a lower front fascia, skinny sidewalls on its 22-inch wheels and other vulnerabilities. But arriving at Michelin restaurants, charity events or the owners’ ski chalet are well within its remit. While it doesn’t look radically different outside, the cockpit of the Ultra is substantially different. Diamond-stitched, semi-aniline leather covers the four bucket seats, all of which are heated and ventilated. The right one has an ottoman that powers out as the right front chair powers forward to increase legroom. Both rear buckets offer massage, and a large center console with angled touchscreen lets the fortunate occupants change settings and watch videos on the two high resolution screens of the rear entertainment system. All occupants can enjoy the accuracy and power of the Mark Levinson surround sound system, especially as the LX600 is so refined and quiet.
In other areas the Ultra is no different than other LX600s. It is still body-on-frame in construction, rides on a live rear axle and actually has the same, 112.2in wheelbase as previous generations stretching back three decades, giving it better “breakover” angles in extreme offroad maneuvers. Exclusively powered by a 3.5-liter, twin turbo V6 hooked to a 10-speed auto with low- and high-range AWD, the Lexus doesn’t lack for oomph. With 409hp and a stout 479lb-ft of torque, it is quick; fuel efficiency is about class average. Ride quality is generally serene though some surfaces remind of how tall it is. This generation of LX handles better than any before, too. All the modern safety systems are present, and drivers aids like adaptive cruise work well, though there is not the ability to tackle highways in hands-free mode, unlike in certain GM or Ford vehicles.
The LX600 is unique; its lineage goes back decades and it still has real offroad chops to go with its presence and panache. Its rarity also works in its favor; Lexus wont build many, meaning it will remain a real rarity as well as a worthy flagship.
EPA Ratings – 17/22/19mpg
0-60mph – 6.1sec
Price as tested – $131,685
Rating – 3.5 Stars
Here is what Lexus has to say.
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