This one’s been a long time coming ― 15 years have gone by since the flagship Lexus SUV was last upgraded. Last year’s LX570 model showed its age when up against some newer competitors, but thankfully this all-new Lexus LX600 delivers in spades.
Based on the equally impressive new Toyota Land Cruiser LC300, the LX600 had to wait until production space appeared, given the strong demand for the LC300. Despite being launched globally in Dubai last October, this is the first chance we’ve had to get behind the wheel.
This fourth-generation LX comes in five trim levels, offering something to suit most budgets, as long as those budgets start at Dh495,000. The wholesale redesign brings with it a 200 kilogram weight reduction, meaning it now no longer needs the thirsty 5.7-litre V8 and instead is powered by Toyota’s impressive twin-turbocharged, 3.5-litre V6, which delivers the same 410hp as did the old model.
Of the many trim levels, there is the option of seven seats, five seats and, for the first time (to counter the expected competition from the equally new Range Rover ready to hit showrooms), a limousine-like four-seat version is also available. With that you also get the more formal and toothy grille ―which is an acquired taste ― or you can opt for the F-Sport’s more traditional mesh grille fitted to The National’s test car.
Given the 15 years they’ve spent in development since the previous generation, Toyota’s engineers needed to work on giving it a more dynamic ride. This means lowering the centre of gravity to stop the old model’s top-heavy pitch and reduce weight. It also needed to make room for batteries and electrification in the future, starting with a hybrid option soon and maybe, according to sources, a full EV farther down the track to combat the Range Rover.
The new V6 delivers 650Nm of torque, which makes plugging through low-level sand a breeze without having to lower tyre pressures or get too serious off-road. It is backed by a 10-speed automatic transmission to boost fuel economy. Lexus claims the new LX600 can tow up to 3,600kg, which is 450kg more than the old model, and has included all the wiring and components for large trailers ready-built into its platform.
The weight reduction is achieved by the inclusion of an aluminium roof and a composite bonnet that literally shows you how much lighter it is by flexing under acceleration ― it can be lifted with virtually one finger ― yet it still feels weighty through the steering at slow speeds, which is fine.
Power delivery is smooth and ample, and thankfully most of the body roll has gone, so the all the right boxes have been ticked from a driver’s perspective.
The driver-assist features include lane centre assist, which is the most proactive of any car I can remember, forcibly steering to ensure that you stay not just within the lane lines, but almost plumb centre in the middle. It’s maybe a bit too aggressive for my liking, but there’s always the option to switch it off.
The big news inside is the greatly improved infotainment system that now uses a dual 19.3-inch display for navigation and entertainment, mixed with a seven-inch display below it for the off-road modes and diff configurations.
It has dropped the fiddly and mostly useless touchpad of previous Lexus models. Instead of the touchpad there is a mix of touchscreen functions and hard-wired knobs and buttons for all the important stuff, while starting the car is now a case of using fingerprint authentication as an added security measure. Depending on the trim spec, you get either four or six USB outlets.
Around town, I kept it in Sport S mode because it gave slightly better throttle response and sounded nicer, but there’s not a huge difference between that and Normal. You also get Sport S+ if you want a stiffer ride, Eco for when the petrol gauge gets low and Custom to set your own mixture from each.
The new Lexus LX600 is a massive improvement over the old model, which was in need of updating, and now Toyota has the machinery to again take on the Europeans and the Americans in the full-sized luxury SUV game.