Few vehicles can tackle off-road trails during the day and arrive at red carpet events at night, but the 2021 Lexus LX is one of those rare beasts. It shares the Toyota Land Cruiser’s platform and mechanical components, so its all-terrain credentials are genuine, but it’s dressed in a sharply pressed tuxedo rather than the jeans and T-shirt ensemble of its platform-mate. A powerful V-8 engine rumbles beneath the hood, but drivers shouldn’t expect quick acceleration or nimble handling from the LX. The Lexus rides as comfortably as other luxury off-roaders like the Land Rover Range Rover and the Infiniti QX80. Cabin accommodations are similarly opulent, but those looking for cutting-edge infotainment technology may be disappointed by the LX’s offerings.
What Is New in 2021?
Lexus’ largest SUV receives a few updates for 2021. The three-row model now comes with a new Sport package that includes unique exterior styling, 21-inch wheels, and your choice of Eminent White Pearl, Black Onyx, or Atomic Silver paint. 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, is also available on the three-row model. The interior is now available in Glazed Caramel, and the LX’s infotainment system now supports Amazon Alexa.
The LX is available in two- and three-row configurations; given its size, we’d go with the three-row because having a couple extra seats is never a bad thing. The base model includes in-dash navigation, a 12.3-inch infotainment display, all-wheel drive, an adaptive suspension, and a slew of driver-assistance features. The Luxury package adds leather upholstery, four-zone automatic climate control, heated and ventilated first- and second-row seats, and elegant puddle lights integrated into the exterior mirrors.
Performance, Engine, and Transmission
The LX consumes massive gulps of air to feed the 383-hp 5.7-liter V-8 under the hood, an action that is anything but quiet. When you press down hard on the gas pedal, the LX gathers itself with a whoosh before sprinting from zero to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds. That’s enough to avoid the label “slow,” but the LX is easily outpaced off the line by many of its rivals. In comparison, the Mercedes-AMG GLS63 accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds. The LX is not a luxury vehicle in which the driver can sit back, relax, and glide to their destination. Although the ride is comfortable and absorbs road imperfections, the steering is numb and disconnected, and low-speed turns necessitate a lot of arm work. When you get the LX up to speed on the highway, the lack of steering feel makes for a hectic ride; small corrections to keep the vehicle on a straight path are frequent. This adds far more work than is necessary for straight-line driving.
Capacity for Towing and Payload
If towing is a major concern, skip the LX and go straight to the Toyota dealer for the Land Cruiser. It has an additional 1100 pounds of capability over the LX’s 7000-pound rating.
Real-World MPG and Fuel Economy
Every day is Thirsty Thursday in an LX. The LX was built on a formula that predated the turbocharged-everything craze, and good gas mileage was apparently not on the list of requirements back in the early 2000s. It is one of the least efficient vehicles on the market today, with an EPA combined rating of 15 mpg. The EPA estimates that the LX should get 18 mpg on the highway; we got 17 mpg on our 200-mile highway fuel-economy test route.
Cargo, Interior, and Comfort
The LX has a big presence, but that doesn’t always translate to a grand ballroom-style interior. Every row of seating is livable, but none of them has a lot of space. The opulent Lincoln Navigator and its class-leading third-row space may be better suited to large families with growing children. The 12.3-inch infotainment screen that towers atop the dashboard is the focal point of the LX interior. It’s complemented by the cabin’s extremely soft leather, genuine metal accents, and splashes of glossy wood that aren’t tacky. Despite the instrument panel’s somewhat cluttered cluster of buttons, the build quality and switchgear are deserving of the luxury label. The LX has space for three carry-on suitcases behind the third row. We were able to fit 29 cases by folding the second and third rows. The Range Rover has three more cases, but the short-wheelbase Navigator has 33 and the long-wheelbase version has 45.