The body-on-frame SUV segment has received a new lifeline as consumers are well aware of EVs (electric vehicles) coming down the pipeline. Large gas-burning SUVs look to have some life left, but their days are numbered as manufacturers set aggressive looming dates for switching over most, if not all, of their fleet to EVs in the next 12 years or so. For now, manufacturers like Lexus are basking in the glory of selling out of vehicles like the new LX 600, which we had a chance to check out again, only this time, in the F Sport trim.
The new Lexus LX 600 embodies a strategic redesign where it retains most of its traditional styling but has a fully reworked platform, which now touts a twin-turbo V6 engine replacing the outgoing V8. From an exterior design perspective, the LX 600 cleverly looks similar to the outgoing model year vehicle but enhances many cues for a rather bold but luxurious statement. That statement is somewhat molded into a sportier flavor with the LX 600 F Sport, which has the primary difference in it is large front grille design, darkened 22-inch forged-aluminum wheels, aluminum interior trim, and a Torsen limited-slip rear differential. Otherwise, the new LX 600 F Sport doesn’t do much else to depart itself from other trim levels but opens up a variety of option packages, such as the welcomed height-adjustable air suspension system equipped on my test vehicle.
Powered by a new twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 engine with 409 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque and mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission and a full-time all-wheel-drive system, the LX 600 moves well, and you never miss the outgoing V8 powertrain. The LX 600 is no slouch, and the ample torque feels somewhat like a diesel engine giving you a good amount of low-end grunt without the 10-speed automatic transmission sometimes stepping through several downshifts in succession. Acceleration is always smooth, as is the shifting of the 10-speed automatic transmission. Zero to 60 mph ticks off 6.7 seconds, and the braking feel is much better than before, where it no longer feels overly boosted and uses new 4-piston calipers up front. The several drive modes (Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport, Sport S+, Custom) only make subtle changes in the throttle mapping, transmission shift points, steering weightiness, and adaptive dampers.
See Also: 2022 Lexus LX 600 Ultra Luxury Review & Test Drive
The smoothness of the powertrain, coupled with the LX 600’s rigid and well-dampened chassis, gives you a sense of security and stability until you start to push the LX 600 hard into turns. Here, the LX 600 tends to produce a bit of extra body lean. Though, the LX 600 is more agile, not only from having more power under the hood, but it is about 200 pounds lighter than the outgoing version.
Just like my previous review of the Lexus LX 600 Ultra Luxury, the LX 600 F Sport Handling trim exhibits the same ride quality plushness and front-end bounce that I experienced. The adaptive dampers do a good job in keeping body motions in check, and you can feel the shocks stiffen up momentarily going over larger road imperfections and undulations. Still, the front end tends to bob around a little but not to the point of being concerned or upsetting the overall smooth ride quality.
The substantial and solid feeling of the LX 600 pays tribute to its luxury disposition. The steering is somewhat slow, which you want it to be, and while it’s mostly numb, it does have a welcomed weighted feeling that matches the LX 600’s large and in-charge persona. Where the LX 600 may shine brighter than other large SUVs is its off-roading prowess using the unique Multi-Terrain Select system with downhill control, full-time four-wheel drive with a low range setting, and a crawl control system. Opting for the F Sport trim adds a limited-slip rear differential, which may aid in some rare cases if you ever want to risk swinging the rear end out.
Having a new twin-turbo V6 powertrain and 10-speed automatic transmission gives the new LX 600 a much-needed bump in fuel efficiency. During my drive, I averaged about 19 mpg around town and got up to 21.5 mpg on the highway. Buyers of the LX 600 will be pleased to match the EPA estimates in the real world of 17 mpg city, 22 mpg highway, and 19 mpg combined. You get a range of about 460 miles out of the 21.1-gallon fuel tank going by the highway mileage.
The redesign of the LX gave Lexus an opportunity to fix many aspects and listen to its dedicated fan base of such a vehicle. With that, the new LX 600 reworks its interior in a way that’s more accommodating and has more usable cargo space going the way of every other large SUV featuring flat-folding third-row seats. Outside of the big changes, the LX 600 has a plush cabin where there are some utilitarian aspects that retain its rugged feel. For the LX 600 F Sport trim, there’s a neat play on the unique seats giving buyers just two color options, a black perforated semi-aniline leather seating surface setup and the Circuit Red semi-aniline perforated leather found in my test vehicle. The red interior choice does a lot to help accentuate the LX 600 F Sport’s sportier side, which nicely accents the Hadori aluminum trim.
Having the full three rows of seats, serving up seating for 7, makes the best use of the LX 600’s interior proportions. However, the LX 600 is a bit smaller than you would think just by a quick glance. Most of the spacing compromise is made in the rear with surprisingly-small rear doors, and the front seating area isn’t as wide as I thought it would be for a “large” body-on-frame SUV. Still, the comfort of the seats is exceptional, having heating, ventilation, and several power adjustments, including a power thigh extender. I would have liked to have the option of massaging seats, something I think Lexus misses the ball here on their flagship SUV, even though the LX 600 Ultra Luxury has rear massaging seats. I feel the driver should be rewarded with such as many luxury and down-market SUVs offer such a feature.
The second-row bench seats of the LX 600 F Sport have good space, and have heating and ventilation on the outboard seats. The third-row seating area is good for two adults, but legroom is at the mercy of the second-row bench’s adjustment. The low level of the third row is also somewhat of a compromise where sitting in such an area on longer trips can be a challenge for adults but more convenient for smaller children.
The clever easy-exit-lowering height-adjustable suspension feature comes in handy as the air suspension is quick to make its lowering adjustment for easy exit and entry, which can be set to automatically lower upon shutting off the ignition. It’s also nice to have a manual adjustment for the suspension height, which is overridden using the many multi-terrain select drive modes for off-roading.
The infotainment unit is the latest system from Toyota/Lexus, a straightforward and mostly user friendly setup using a primary 12.3-inch touchscreen mounted high that also integrates wireless or USB-connected Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There’s also a lower 7-inch touchscreen that handles the vehicle functions, including the 4-zone automatic climate control system and a display for the vehicle drive and off-roading status settings.
As you would expect, there are several active safety features included in the new LX 600 F Sport, including lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, forward collision warning with emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, automated parking system, and a 360-degree camera system that cleverly maps and displays a virtual visualization for under-vehicle.
The new 2023 Lexus LX 600 F Sport Handling falls in the middle of the five offered trim levels adding a good bit to the starting price of the base LX 600 at $90,660. The F Sport Handling trim is more of a preference instead of a trim that adds additional features outside of the range-topping LX 600 Ultra Luxury trim. The LX 600 F Sport Handling starts at $104,870 and then comes to $107,925 for my nicely loaded test vehicle, which includes the Active Height Control suspension option ($1,300), the Mark Levinson 25-speaker surround audio system ($2,660), a $595 premium paint charge, and a $1,345 delivery, processing, and handling fee.