Test drive: 2022 Lexus LX 600 F Sport modernizes and perplexes

For every step forward Lexus took with its 2022 LX 600 redesign, the brand also seemingly took a step back.

The flagship SUV arrives with a strong new powertrain, a better interior layout, and modern cabin technology. But the interior packaging is still compromised, the latest technology is a bit disjointed, and there’s a perplexing hiccup when it comes to towing.

After spending a week living with, towing with, and hauling with the 2022 Lexus LX 600 F Sport Handling, here’s where it hits and misses.

Hit: Modern technology

Finally, the mouse is gone! The LX used an infotainment interface that predated everything else in Lexus’ lineup, and while it was actually better than the trackpad used elsewhere, it was far outdated. The 2022 LX sports a new infotainment system with a 12.3-inch touchscreen towering over a 7.0-inch climate control screen. The former features the automaker’s new touch interface, over-the-air update capabilities, and wireless Apple CarPlay along with wired Android Auto. It’s easier to use than the outdated and half-baked system it replaces. The lower touchscreen is dedicated to the climate control system and the status of the vehicle’s off-road systems’ status. It’s augmented by knobs, buttons, and switches for a refreshingly easy-to-use interface.

Miss: Disjointed technology

However, the two touchscreens don’t appear to have the same resolution and the glossy interfaces feel like they were designed by different departments. They don’t match. The larger tablet-like upper screen isn’t integrated into the dashboard and looks like an afterthought. Despite the large size of the screen, it has no split-screen or multitasking capabilities. This is stuff found in the LX’s distant corporate cousin the Toyota Highlander. Apple CarPlay overtakes the entire screen at all times when in use. Just as annoying is the wireless smartphone charging pad on the center console that somehow loses its connection, constantly starting to charge then stopping, over and over again.

Miss: But why F Sport Handling?

The F Sport Handling model sits in the middle of the LX lineup at $102,345, though my tester cost $105,005 due to the optional $2,660 Mark Levinson sound system. It’s a $6,000 premium over the Premium trim. For the money, it adds F Sport badges, trim-specific front and rear bumpers, perforated heated leather steering wheel, aluminum pedal covers, 22-inch wheels, and seating for seven (base models seat five, and Premium models require an option package to get the third row) trimmed in semi-aniline leather. The go comes in the form of a Torsen limited-slip rear differential and a sport-tuned suspension system. A few features such as the cool box (it’s a refrigerated cooler in the front center armrest) and ventilated second-row seats become standard. It feels like a weird model as a firmer sport suspension doesn’t make much sense in a large body-on-frame off-road SUV. It’s almost a rolling contradiction, but some drivers might like the added control of the stiffer suspension. I can’t make that call because I haven’t driven the other models. The Premium model costs $6,000 less and the Luxury trim costs $2,000 more. Both make more sense unless you really like the F Sport look. Most puzzling to me was the F Sport’s Hadori aluminum interior trim, which looks and feels like plastic.

Hit: Strong turbocharged powertrain

The naturally aspirated V-8 known for its durability, reliability, and poor fuel economy is dead. Every LX is powered by a new twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 rated at 409 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. Full-time four-wheel drive and a 2-speed transfer case come standard. At about 5,800 lb, the LX is no lightweight, but it sprints from 0-60 mph in 6.9 seconds. Lexus rates the LX to tow up to 8,000 lb.

With about 5,000 lb of fiberglass walleye boat and a dual-axle trailer hooked to it, the LX had zero issues getting up to speed and had plenty of highway passing power. Shockingly, despite the lack of a tow mode or the ability to lock out any gears, the 10-speed automatic transmission was better behaved than the transmission in at least one heavy-duty pickup truck I’ve used to tow. I averaged 9.8 mpg on premium fuel while towing, which was 1.9 mpg more than the high-output twin-turbo V-6 in the Ford F-150 with the same load and route. Turbos huff and that drinks gas, but the LX’s powertrain acquitted itself quite well under load on all fronts.

Miss: Towing surprises

While the truck towed well, hooking up the boat was a pain due to an odd surprise. Accessing the receiver is painful as the painted bumper cover requires two retaining clips—the kind typically used in fender liners—to be pried loose and pulled out with a flat-head screwdriver. Most vehicles use push-and-twist knobs that make this step simple, but not the Lexus. Then once the retaining clips are removed the cover itself is held in place with plastic tabs that snap into the bumper snugly. I was certain the cover was going to break when I removed it, though miraculously it didn’t. The 7-pin light hookup is mounted underneath the bumper as well, which required me to crawl on the ground (better hope it’s not wet or cold) to plug in the trailer lights.

Then came the surprise: Our standard hitch pin, which has been used with countless other vehicles and receivers for well over a decade, was too short. The hole for the cotter pin didn’t clear the receiver’s walls. Flabbergasted and in shock, I tested a second hitch pin. Same issue. Most pins are 3-3 3/4 inches in usable length, which is more than enough for a standard receiver. I ran to the fleet supply store and found what might be the world’s most expensive and overly fancy hitch pin with rubber comfort grips for $13.99 (hitch pins are typically about $3 or less). At 4 inches long, it fit. Eventually, I realized the reason the hitch pin didn’t work is the receiver is double walled with an air gap on the sides. It’s thicker and reinforced despite having a lower tow rating than other body-on-frame SUVs like the Cadillac Escalade, Jeep Grand Wagoneer, and Lincoln Navigator. Lexus hasn’t been able to provide a reason or logic behind this design despite my multiple inquiries. The last-generation Toyota Land Cruiser doesn’t have this design. It’s new and the automaker can’t explain why, but in the end it turned out to be a $14 problem.

Hit: Right size

The Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator have grown huge over the years. The Jeep Grand Wagoneer is massive. These things barely fit in some garages. The LX continues to maintain its size at a smidge over 200 inches long with three-rows of seats (except base models, which feature two rows and seating for five). That’s nearly a foot shorter than the Americans, and it fits between the short- and long-wheelbase versions of the new Range Rover. It’s easier to park at the grocery store and place in a garage, and it’s less of a handful while driving around town than the larger competition.

Miss: Compromised packaging

Not growing has its disadvantages, too. The third row now folds flat into the floor, which is a great thing for cargo hauling, but it’s still rather uncomfortable due to a low seating position and little usable leg room. With the third-row up, there’s barely any cargo space, perhaps enough to hold a small backpack or two. The larger competition will be better for family road trips with more than five passengers.

For those seeking an Escalade or Range Rover alternative with far more reliability, the 2022 Lexus LX 600 finally feels modern. But, outside of expected reliability, it’s hard to imagine choosing the LX over the latest Range Rover, and those who plan to tow should be sure to have a 4-inch hitch pin on hand.

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––2022 Lexus 600 F S Sport Handling

Base price: $88,245, including $1,345 destinationPrice as tested: $105,005Powertrain: 409-hp 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6, 10-speed automatic transmission, full-time four-wheel driveEPA fuel economy: 17/22/19 mpgThe hits: Modern technology, strong twin-turbo V-6, easy size to live withThe misses: Disjointed technology experience, towing oddities, compromised third-row packaging

Source: https://www.motorauthority.com/news/1135916_2022-lexus-lx-600-f-review

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