Few vehicles are capable of tackling off-road trails during the day and pulling up to red carpet events at night, but the 2021 Lexus LX is one of those rare beasts. It shares its platform and mechanical bits with the Toyota Land Cruiser, so its all-terrain cred is real, but it’s dressed in a sharply pressed tuxedo instead of the jeans and T-shirt ensemble of its platform-mate. A burly V-8 engine rumbles under the hood, but drivers shouldn’t expect the LX to deliver quick acceleration or nimble handling. The Lexus’s relaxed ride is on par with other luxury off-roaders such as the Land Rover Range Rover and the Infiniti QX80. Cabin accommodations are similarly posh, but those seeking the latest in infotainment technology may be disappointed by the LX’s outdated offerings.
What’s New for 2021?
Lexus’s largest SUV rolls into 2021 with a few changes. A new Sport package is available on the three-row model, which adds unique exterior styling, 21-inch wheels, and either an Eminent White Pearl, Black Onyx, or Atomic Silver paint job. Also available on the three-row model is the Inspiration Series #2 package, which blacks out most of the LX’s exterior trim and adds 21-inch black wheels, smoked lenses for the exterior lighting elements, black badging, and Rioja Red semi-aniline leather upholstery. A Glazed Caramel-colored interior is now available, and the LX’s infotainment system now includes Amazon Alexa compatibility.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
- LX570 Two Row: $88,000 (est)
- LX570 Three Row: $93,000 (est)
The LX comes in both a two- and three-row arrangement; considering its size, we’d opt for the three-row since having a couple extra seats is never a terrible thing. The base level comes well-equipped with in-dash navigation, a 12.3-inch infotainment display, all-wheel drive, an adaptive suspension, and plenty of driver-assistance features. The Luxury package doesn’t add much to the bottom line, but it does add leather upholstery, four-zone automatic climate control, heated and ventilated first- and second-row seats, and elegant puddle lights integrated into the exterior mirrors.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
To feed the 383-hp 5.7-liter V-8 under the hood, the LX ingests gargantuan gulps of air, an action that is anything but quiet. When you press the gas pedal heavily, the LX gathers itself with a big whoosh before trotting from zero to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds. That’s sufficient to escape the “slow” label, but the LX is easily bested off the line by many of its competitors. For comparison, the Mercedes-AMG GLS63 leaps to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds. The LX is not a luxury vehicle that allows its driver to sit back, relax, and glide to their destination. Although the ride is comfortable and shrugs off bumps in the road, the steering is numb and disconnected, and low-speed turns require plenty of arm work. Get the LX up to speed on the highway and the lack of steering feel creates a busy drive; small corrections to keep the vehicle on a straight path are frequent. This creates way more work than should be necessary for driving in a straight line.
Towing and Payload Capacity
If towing is of serious concern, forget the LX altogether and head to the Toyota dealer for the Land Cruiser. It offers an extra 1100 pounds of capability versus the LX’s 7000-pound rating.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
In an LX, every day is Thirsty Thursday. The LX was built on a formula that predated the turbocharged-everything movement, and good gas mileage was apparently not on the checklist back in the early 2000s. With an EPA combined rating of 15 mpg, it is one of the least efficient vehicles on the market today. The EPA estimates the LX should deliver 18 mpg on the highway; on our 200-mile highway fuel-economy test route, we recorded 17 mpg.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The LX has a huge presence, but the big body doesn’t necessarily translate to a grand ballroom of an interior. Every row of seating is livable, although none of them offer exceptional space. Large families with growing kids may be better served by the palatial Lincoln Navigator and its class-leading third-row spaciousness. The centerpiece of the LX interior is the 12.3-inch infotainment screen that towers atop the dashboard. It is complemented by the cabin’s extremely soft leather, real metal accents, and splashes of glossy wood that—refreshingly—don’t look tacky. The build quality and switchgear are worthy of the luxury label, despite the instrument panel’s somewhat cluttered cluster of buttons. Behind the third row, the LX has room for three carry-on suitcases. With the second and third rows folded, we managed to fit 29 cases. That number beats the Range Rover by three but the short-wheelbase Navigator managed 33 and the long-wheelbase version packed a whopping 45 cases.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The LX’s infotainment system is controlled by a flat, joystick-like controller located to the right of the gearshifter. It is cumbersome to operate and, in our experience, difficult to safely use while driving. Regarding the actual infotainment system and organization, we have a generally positive view of Lexus’s Enform interface. In the LX, a massive 12.3-inch screen allows for convenient split-screen operation. The center console offers redundant climate controls and features much appreciated volume and tune knobs. A flagship luxury SUV should come standard with every available piece of convenience technology on the market, but the LX has neither Apple CarPlay nor Android Auto integration. It doesn’t offer a data connection service for mobile Wi-Fi, either.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
In addition to driving like an absolute tank, the LX has a number of standard driver-assistance features to give a sense of security while cruising around in hectic traffic. In addition to adaptive cruise control, it features automatic high-beams, front and rear parking sensors, and lane-departure warning. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection
- Standard lane-departure warning
- Standard adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
The LX holds an advantage versus the Range Rover and the GLS63 simply by offering one year of complimentary scheduled maintenance and two additional years on its powertrain warranty. Why Lexus offers less complimentary scheduled maintenance as Toyota (which offers two years and 25,000 miles) on essentially the same vehicle is a mystery.
- Limited warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 6 years or 70,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance is covered for 1 years or 10,000 miles