The Lexus LX is basically a dressed-up version of the Toyota Land Cruiser. It’s an old-school SUV with truck-like body-on-frame construction and has serious off-roading chops. Otherwise, the LX is showing its age and probably isn’t the best choice for drivers who want a large luxury SUV and will rarely venture off paved roads. It also has a clumsy infotainment system that’s frustrating and distracting to use.
Base Price: $91,580
As Tested: $106,845
Mileage: 12 mpg city/16 mpg highway/14 mpg combined
The LX was the first SUV made by Lexus, Toyota’s upscale brand, and was introduced way back in 1995. “LX” stands for luxury crossover. The LX is now in its third generation, with the last major redesign done in 2007. While it has received several updates since then, it still has the same powertrain and relatively poor fuel economy.
For 2021, there’s a new limited-edition LX Inspiration Series trim and Amazon Alexa becomes standard.
The LX is available in just one trim, but you can get it with either two or three rows of seating with room for five or eight passengers, respectively. The two-row version starts at $86,580 and the three-row model starts at $91,580. These are high prices for a large luxury SUV. And the starting price can quickly climb with packages and options.
The LX and the Land Cruiser share the powertrain: a 5.7-liter V8 that makes 383 horsepower and 403 pound-feet of torque paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. While a V8 with 383 horses may look robust on paper, it’s not enough to give this 6,000-pound beast athletic performance. Yes, there’s enough power for everyday driving situations, but the LX can feel slow when accelerating from a stop or speeding up for merging and passing at freeway speeds. Lexus says the LX can go from zero to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds which is pokey for the class. Its bulky size can make it challenging to maneuver in tight parking lots. As you’d expect in a Lexus, the ride is comfortable and smooth.
The LX has impressive off-road prowess. It has 8.9-inches of ground clearance and comes standard with full-time four-wheel drive, crawl control, adjustable suspension, and multi-terrain modes that let you select from five different settings: rock, rock and dirt, mogul, loose rock, and mud and sand. There’s also a standard camera system that lets you see the terrain under the front of the vehicle.
When properly equipped, the LX can tow up to 7,000 pounds. That’s less than many rivals.
Fuel economy is poor, even for a large SUV. EPA ratings for my tester are 12 mpg city and 16 mpg highway with a combined rating of 14. I got just under 14 during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.
The interior is attractive and upscale, as you’d expect in a Lexus, even though the LX is more than a decade old. Materials are high quality, including nice leather and wood trim. The front and second rows have comfortable and roomy seats with decent leg- and headroom, even for taller adults. The available third row is tight for adults and seats are low to the floor, but at least it’s easy to climb in and out.
The big drawback is the infotainment system. The LX gets the Remote Touch Interface with 12.3-inch display screen. Instead of a touchscreen, the system is controlled with a mouse-like control located between the two front seats. The system is not intuitive and takes time to figure out. It can be very distracting! There are many menus and submenus and it can be frustrating to get to the functions you want. And there’s no Android Auto or Apple CarPlay compatibility! Hey, Lexus—it’s 2021! At least there are physical knobs for volume and tuning, graphics look good, and the display screen can be split so you can customize it to your liking.
Standard features include proximity keyless entry, rearview camera, surround-view camera system, multi-terrain monitor, quad-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, wood accents, 14-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, 12-way power-adjustable passenger seat, heated front seats, power tilt-and telescoping wood steering wheel, driver’s seat and steering wheel memory settings, Remote Touch infotainment system with 12.3-inch display, nine-speaker premium audio system, navigation, Bluetooth, several USB ports, satellite radio, voice recognition, Amazon Alexa, the Lexus Enform app suite, household-style power outlet, power-sliding second row, ambient interior lighting, moonroof, auto-dimming rearview mirror, automatic high-beam headlights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and a universal garage door opener.
Available features include semi-aniline leather upholstery, heated second-row seats, ventilated first- and second-row seats, 19-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound audio system, wireless device charging, rear-seat entertainment system, and a refrigerator in the center console.
Standard driver assistance technologies include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, pedestrian detection, rear cross traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, and parking assist. Some of these are included in the Lexus Safety System + suite of technologies.
Cargo space is below average for the class. There are just 16.3 cubic feet in the three-row model with all three rows in place, and 41.6 cubes with the third row folded. The two-row models have 53.7 cubes with all seats in place. Both models have a maximum of 81.3 cubes. The available third row doesn’t fold flat, rather the seats move to the sides which limits cargo space.
Excellent off-road capability
Upscale cabin with premium materials
Smooth, comfortable ride
Lots of standard features and safety tech
Standard Amazon Alexa
Distracting, clumsy infotainment system
No Android Auto or Apple CarPlay
Poor fuel economy
Below average cargo space
My tester starts at $91,580. Wireless charger is $75. Cool box refrigerator is $170. Head-up display is $900. The Luxury Package is $1,190 and includes semi-Aniline leather-trimmed interior with contrast stitching, heated and ventilated front and second row seats, four-zone climate concierge, and LX projector door lamps. The Mark Levinson audio system is $2,350 and includes 19 speakers and 450-watt reference surround sound. The dual-screen DVD rear-seat entertainment system is $2,005. The Sport Package is $6,110 and includes 21” forged Alloy wheels, exclusive front grille, front spoilers and lower rear spoiler, chrome-accent side mirror caps and black headliner. The heated espresso steering wheel is $150. Door edge film by 3M is $90. Alloy wheel locks are $85. All-weather floor liners with cargo mat are $395. Roof rack cross bars are $450. Delivery fee is $1,295 bringing the grand total to $106,845.
The 2021 Lexus LX is luxurious and boasts off-roading prowess. But it hasn’t had a major redesign in more than a decade, and other luxury SUVs offer a better blend of performance, capability, fuel economy, comfort, and tech. And the infotainment system is distracting and clunky. You’ll want to look around before making your decision.