Looking to our third Ultimate Overland Vehicle, we at Overland Expo wanted to take on an all-new vehicle platform. Not only did we desire to build the most modified example of an all-new offering, we also wanted to work with our exhibitors to develop first-ever products for the latest and greatest 4×4. Although there were some compelling options in the marketplace, none stood out more than the totally new LX600.
Let’s step back a second. When the LX450 first debuted in 1995, with its perfect 112-inch wheelbase and coil-spring suspension, it changed the game of luxury off-roading. Sure, there’d been the Land Rover Range Rover and Jeep Grand Wagoneer before it. But no other vehicle came close to matching the LX’s refinement, build quality, and — importantly — off-road capabilities. And it was remarkably capable because it shared its underpinnings with the venerable Toyota Land Cruiser 80 Series, which is widely considered to be one of the greatest off-road platforms of all time.
Over the last 27 years, the LX mirrored the Land Cruiser here in the United States, riding as the most luxurious version of the venerable off-road wagon. If you wanted a world-class overland rig, but also desired the latest and greatest refinement and technology the brand could conjure, you opted for the LX. It was as simple as that.
Things changed a bit, though, for the latest Land Cruiser generation, the 300 Series. It was dropped from the U.S. market. This left the new LX600 as the heir apparent to the Land Cruiser throne, placing it atop the full-size 4×4 mountain.
The LX’s position as the ‘closest you can get’ to a Land Cruiser in America, though, is just one of the reasons we picked it as our Ultimate Overland Vehicle. Delightfully, there’s much more about the LX600 to love than its shared heritage.
Design + Refinement
There’s no denying that the LX600 is an exceedingly gorgeous luxury 4×4 SUV. It has those classic full-size SUV proportions, which it gets from the new GA-F platform that underpins the Land Cruiser 300, Toyota Tundra, and Toyota Sequoia (so far). The ladder-frame LX600 rides high and proud with broad shoulders, but it’s not too flashy. It’s the brand’s flagship vehicle, and you can tell by looking at it, but it doesn’t shout at you.
Stepping inside, even in our Base trim LX600, and it’s like climbing into a spaceship, as one of our Overland Expo colleagues eloquently described it. In addition to the beautiful luxury touch points throughout the cabin, you’re greeted by 19.3 inches of bright and beautiful screens in the center dash.
Seating, head, leg, and shoulder space is ample. The truck itself isn’t humongous, though. It’s a total of 78.35 inches wide. That’s two inches wider than the 1995 LX450 and just shy of five inches wider than a Jeep Wrangler JL, for example. But despite being just a bit wider, it feels much more spacious inside. By comparison, the Bronco Raptor is 85.7 inches wide. So although the LX600 is not a small rig, it’s not so wide that you won’t be able to weave it through tight trails; it’s no full-size behemoth.
Everything is very nicely laid out, as one would expect from a such a vehicle. And the technology is next-level. Wireless Apple CarPlay is standard, which can run some of our favorite off-road apps. Standard, too, is the brand’s Safety System+ 2.5, which brings a suite of key active safety features to the vehicle. For starters, the Pre-Collision System (PCS), which includes Frontal Collision Warning (FCW), Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), Pedestrian Detection and Bicyclist Detection, features an enhancement to the lens camera and millimeter-wave radar elements to expand the response range.
This means that we know we’ll be both comfortable and safe on the long overland trips this truck will take during the 2023 Overland Expo show series.
Off-Road + Performance
Speaking of trails, the LX600 is incredible off road. This is in large part to its ideal 112.2-inch wheel base (same as the ‘95), 27.5 inches of water fording, and the Multi-Terrain Select (MTS) system. MTS allows the driver to select from six modes — Auto, Dirt, Sand, Mud, Deep Snow and Rock — to support off-road driving conditions. In addition to conventional brake hydraulics, the drive power and suspension are integrated and controlled for optimization according to the selected mode, making it possible to match driving performance to road conditions.
In addition, the operating range of Multi-Terrain Select, which was previously limited to the low range (L4), has been extended to the high range (H4). The Auto mode, which the brand has adopted for the first time, uses information from various sensors to estimate the road conditions while driving and to optimize brake hydraulic pressure, driving force and suspension control. This feature allows the driver to maintain ideal driving performance in various driving conditions, without having to switch modes.
Under the hood of the LX600 lies the new 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission complete with a factory oil-pan guard. With both turbos spooled up, the 3.5 churns out 409 horsepower and 479 foot-pounds of torque.
Further off-road enhancements include Crawl Control. It allows LX to move forward or in reverse at one of five driver-selected low-speed settings: LO, MIDL, MID, MIDH and HIGH. Crawl Control intuitively orchestrates the engagement and disengagement of engine output and hydraulic braking pressure to help reduce tire slippage and optimize chassis behavior.
Ultimately, we chose the LX600 because it is unique in its class; no other full-size ladder-frame 4×4 SUV can come close to its refinement and capability. Because of that, we see a long life for the LX600 in the overlanding community. Simply put, we think the LX600 will take the place of the Land Cruiser 200 as the top overlanding truck, the one most of us aspire to own.
However, because LX600 is so new, having debuted for the 2022 model year, virtually no one had created parts and components for would-be LX600-driving overlanders. This gave Overland Expo and its build partners the perfect opportunity to develop all-new parts — including bumpers, suspension, exhaust, roof, and interior — for the LX600.
This means our Ultimate Overland Vehicle is more than a concept or show car, it debuts parts that will be available starting now and going forward for any and all LX600 owners that wish to upfit their LX600 for overlanding. And they’re going to want to, because — from our point of view — they own the best 4×4 SUV on the market today, full stop.