Which oversized SUV is right for you?
Lexus has just revealed its all-new LX, the SUV that it believes to be the best way to mix off-road capability with luxury living. With loads of technological advancements, more comfort than ever before, and a refined chassis that will handle better on all surfaces, the Lexus LX looks like a compelling buy. But before it gets here, let's think about what else you could buy. Cadillac revealed the 2021 Escalade last year, and it still looks fantastic. Like the LX, a greater focus on premium features is once again present, but which should you buy? Let's see if we can come to a decision.
Both the new LX and the Cadillac Escalade adopt bold styling cues with enormous grilles, plenty of chrome accents, and detailed LED lighting. Both are also available with 22-inch wheels, but the Caddy gives you these for free. That's not actually a good thing, as it hints at an unwillingness to go off-road, something that the LX's options of 18s or 20s do not.
Both models are also available in trims that offer loads of gloss black accents instead of chrome: Sport for the Escalade and F Sport for the LX. However, while the Escalade Sport is little more than an appearance package, the LX adds retuned power steering and suspension, a new rear stabilizer, and a Torsen limited-slip differential.
Both look amazing from certain angles and hideous from others, but we'll give the Escalade this one by a hair, even if that boxy shape is a bit dated.
Japanese cars are known for being loaded with new technologies, and the LX is no different. In the enter of the dash, a 12.3-inch upper screen handles infotainment, navigation, and a new Multi-Terrain Monitor that can display video of the underside of the vehicle. For the off-road enthusiast, this will come in handy, but we doubt that many buyers paying around six figures will ever take full advantage of this. In the back of the Ultra Luxury trim, you can move the front seat forward and recline the rear seat by 48 degrees. This provides as much as 43 inches of legroom, and you can even have a button-deployable footrest. A rear control panel allows for fine-tuning of the climate control and other features too, while rear-seat entertainment screens will also be offered, as will a 25-speaker Mark Levinson audio system.
Lexus has done a remarkable job and has fitted loads of off-road-friendly tech, but for the average buyer who will never even pull onto the shoulder of a road if they don't have to, the Escalade is where you want to be. With an industry-first, paper-thin, curved OLED screen, you can tell that Cadillac means business. There are actually three displays here: a 7.2-inch diagonal touchscreen, a 14.2-inch cluster display, and a 16.9-inch infotainment screen. a 19-speaker sound system is standard with another industry first: AKG audio technology. If that's not enough, you can even have a 36-speaker setup powered by three amplifiers. Simply put, if you're looking for bragging rights when it comes to tech, the Escalade is the one to have - and we haven't even taken into account that you can have Super Cruise semi-autonomous driving tech here.
The Lexus LX debuts with a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 that develops more power than the last generation's V8 - 409 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque. A 10-speed Direct Shift automatic transmission handles gearing and promises excellent acceleration along with outstanding fuel economy in top gear. Adaptive suspension with adjustable height is also offered for better handling on and off-road.
The Escalade offers two choices: a 3.0-liter turbodiesel with 277 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque or a standard 6.2-liter V8 with 420 hp and the same torque as the diesel. Both are paired with a 10-speed auto, and you can have adaptive damping and air suspension here too. An electronic LSD is also available, but we have more faith in the handling of a Lexus product, especially when you get the mechanical LSD offered with the F Sport trim. The LX's additional off-road capability is a bonus here, and we'd be happier driving the LX even on asphalt.
We honestly can't tell you to wait for the Lexus because of the ongoing component shortages that have plagued both the LX's Toyota Land Cruiser sibling and even the Escalade's Super Cruise system, but we will say this: the LX, if you can look past its brace face and can wait for next year, seems like it'll be worth considering, if only for a test drive.
Pricing hasn't yet been announced, but we expect a considerable increase from the base figure of around $86,000 on the last-generation model. The Escalade is already cheaper than that, with the base version coming in at around $10k less, but you can expect to pay well over $100,000 for the best of either model.
Naturally, we'll wait to drive the LX before we give a final verdict, but on paper, we'd go for the Escalade. If you really want to go off-road and want to stand out a little without shouting about it, the LX is the better choice without a doubt, but the current availability of the Caddy along with its lower price and greater focus on cabin tech means it's the one to buy for everyone else.