Plus-sized inside and out, the Lexus LX 570 possesses all the characteristics of a traditional SUV. Built with a separate body and frame, it’s about as spacious as the Toyota Land Cruiser that provides its foundation. But Lexus goes the luxury route and the LX 570 comes loaded with leather and wood.
For the 2018 model year, Lexus’s Enform Safety Connect and Service Connect are complimentary for 10 years (previously one year). Otherwise, apart from one new body color, nothing has changed.
Joyfully old-fashioned yet modern, the lavishly equipped LX boasts first-class finishes. Like its close cousin, the Toyota Land Cruiser, it promises big V8 power, but cumbersome handling. In effect, Lexus started with the practical-minded Land Cruiser, layering on leather upholstery and wood trim, behind a huge chrome-laden grille. At the finish line is a luxury truck.
Toyota’s 5.7-liter V8 develops 383 horsepower and 403 pound-feet of torque, sending its power to an 8-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drive. Acceleration to 60 mph is accomplished in a brisk 7.3 seconds. Abysmal fuel economy is the price to be paid, estimated at 15 mpg in Combined city/highway driving.
A 5-inch addition to the nose makes the LX longer than its Toyota counterpart. Even so, the LX is nearly as masterful off-road as a Land Cruiser. An electro-hydraulic height-adjustment system can raise or lower the vehicle 2 inches. Five-mode traction control can select optimum operation on various road surfaces, from loose dirt to mud to snow and ice.
In its crash-testing program, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the LX a four-star rating for frontal impact. No ratings have been issued for overall crash protection, or for side-impact testing. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not crash-tested the LX 570.
For the 2017 model year, Lexus made a bundle of advanced safety technology standard. The safety group includes forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, and automatic high beams. Ten airbags and a rearview camera are standard. A front-end camera gives a 180-degree view of obstacles ahead.
Lexus’s Enform system with Bluetooth connectivity is standard. A telematics system provides emergency notification services.
The Lexus LX 570 ($89,980) comes with the 5.7-liter V8, 8-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel drive, 20-inch wheels, LED headlights, 14-way power driver’s seat, 12-way front passenger seat, power-folding third-row seat, pushbutton start, moonroof, 9-speaker audio, and navigation with a 12.3-inch screen. Technology features include automatic parking assistance and a selection of hardware and software to enhance off-road capabilities on any terrain. (Prices are MSRP and do not include the $1,195 destination charge.)
Options include DVD rear entertainment, 19-speaker Mark Levinson audio, 21-inch wheels, and a head-up display.
Lexus clearly sought to make its version of the traditional SUV look different from Toyota’s Land Cruiser, despite the nearly-identical underpinnings. The foremost difference is up front, at the lengthened nose. As on other current Lexus models, the oversized, insolent hourglass-shaped spindle grille is a feature than cannot be overlooked.
Few observers are likely to call the front end beautiful. Some find it annoying, though it undeniably gives the LX a distinguishing character. Like it or hate it, the tall grille dominates the front end and establishes a pattern for overall visual cues.
Viewed from the side or rear, the LX has a pleasant, imposing shape with squarish corners and large integrated taillights. The split tailgate has an upper hatch, above a fold-down section that can be used as a temporary bench seat at outdoor events.
Lavishly appointed, the stunning cabin retains the look and near-silence of a library. Luscious leather and open-pore wood, in profuse quantity, enhance the subdued and subtle aura of elegance. Lovely fit-and-finish helps separate the plush LX from the more prosaic Land Cruiser.
Climbing into the LX isn’t so easy. Because this SUV is intended to tackle tall obstacles, quite an upward step is needed.
Five adults get plenty of space. The driver faces a high, commanding view of the road. Generously-proportioned seats feel supportive and soft.
Seats are less sculpted in the second row, Fitted with 40/20/40-split seatbacks, they slide 3.5 inches fore/aft, to apportion space between passengers and cargo.
While the front two rows promise nearly ideal comfort, the unappealing third-row seat is short on space. Far-back riders must be small or young. Even then, it’s tiny and cramped.
A foldaway mechanism raises and rotates the third-row seats toward the bodysides, opening up a cargo space that’s quite narrow. Seats cannot be removed, and the cargo floor is rather high.
Cargo volume totals only 9.1 cubic feet behind the rear seat, growing to 24.8 cubic feet if those seatbacks are folded down. A split tailgate includes a powered upper door.
The dashboard is loaded with buttons and knobs. Many of them control the off-roading technology. Because they’re so numerous, the control layout conveys a rather haphazard look.
Like its Land Cruiser sibling, the luxurious LX excels off-road, with substantial wheel travel and plenty of ground clearance. Still, the LX brand of off-roading has more in common with crossover SUVs than with hard-duty workhorses, such as Jeeps.
A group of console-mounted switches is used only occasionally, but they give the LX impressive capabilities on roads of all kinds. Weighing three tons, the LX cannot slip between rough-country obstacles as readily as a narrower SUV, such as Lexus’ own GX.
Ride comfort is another area where the LX stands tall. Suffering only slight loss in off-road ability, compared to the Land Cruiser, the Lexus version beats Toyota’s on paved surfaces. Its weight can be a benefit in coping with potholes, allowing the suspension to absorb surface flaws.
Even though a relatively low front bumper limits approach angles, the LX maintains traction admirably on various terrains. The four-wheel-drive system splits power 40/60 (front/rear), via a locking differential. Crawl-control lets the LX ease through mushy pathways. Traction control hinders opposing wheels to shrink the turning radius, improving maneuverability on narrow trails. Body lean, as expected, is inevitable when cornering.
As for acceleration, the big V8 provides exceptional thrust for such a heavyweight. An LX can pass comfortably on the highway, without using all the available power.
The Lexus LX ranks among the least fuel-efficient vehicles on the market, EPA-rated at a gas-guzzling 13/18 mpg City/Highway, or 15 mpg Combined.
Big V8 power is terrific for towing and promises reserve vigor for serious off-roading, but expansive dimensions inevitably impede maneuverability. While the cabin is pleasantly plush and amply equipped, the Lexus LX doesn’t match the opulence or true luxury of a Range Rover.
Driving impressions by Marty Padgett, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.