It’s amazing how quickly the Lexus LX570 has aged. When this monster SUV debuted for the 2008 model year, it felt ridiculously fast, very comfortable, and seemed enormous. In 2011, the LX570 feels much older than it should because of the myriad buttons, knobs, and levers to control the various suspension, 4wd, climate control, and audio systems. For the most part the array of controls is explained well with illustrations of each individual switch’s function, but the sheer number of things that can be adjusted is a bit intimidating. Land Rover does a much better job of batching the various 4wd settings together with a clear icon to explain the terrain that matches the system’s setting. Even Jeep has made this pretty clear with the Grand Cherokee.
The LX570 is based on the Toyota Land Cruiser, which has an incredible off-road legacy and is known around the world for its durability. Unfortunately those roots show in places they shouldn’t. The Land Cruiser has signature rear seats that fold outboard, so the LX gets them, too. There are six buttons to control the powered movements of the 50/50 split rear seats! Sadly none of these powered movements provide a flat load floor that spans the entire area behind the second row of seats. Lexus should examine an Infiniti QX56 to see how the third row of seats could fold down and forward to create a nearly flat load floor that is much better for loading with cargo.
Even with the firmest damper setting, the LX570 pitches itself into a turn with more body movement than any vehicle should have in 2011. I completely understand the off-road heritage and capability that Lexus offers buyers, but other manufacturers have better on-road ride quality with just as much off-road capability as Lexus has here.
The 5.7-liter V-8 that powers the LX570 has aged much more gracefully than the rest of the vehicle. Power delivery is very good, especially considering the vehicle’s considerable curb weight. I found the six-speed automatic to be very agreeable with smooth upshifts and reasonably quick downshifts when I floored the accelerator. I’d like to see a little better fuel economy since the Infiniti QX56 is rated at 14/20 mpg and the Lexus only returns 12/18 mpg, but big SUVs aren’t the poster children for fuel economy anyway.
Phil Floraday, Senior Web Editor
Let me start out by saying that I am a sucker for big, body-on-frame SUVs. I am going to chalk it up to being toted around in Suburbans, Land Cruisers, and Explorers during my impressionable youth. However, the LX seems to be right out of the heyday of those trucks. It is, in fact, a truck, no matter how much leather, wood, and chrome Lexus adds.
The interior is indeed quite an opulent place to be. The center stack’s design borders on deco with sweeping vents and infotainment screen surround. The stack then pours vertically down to the console, adorned with buttons for the navigation system, audio system, and climate control. The console’s controls are all chunky and rugged, and they deal with all things related to chassis control. It’s generally all fairly straightforward, with the most frequently used items gaining high marks for ergonomics. However, interacting with the touch screen will have you diving into submenus and taking too many steps for a short goal — a common Lexus foible. Counterintuitive electronics aside, every surface you touch is wrapped in either supple leather; polished wood; or the highest-quality plastic.
This truck really is out of another era. While it may wallow down the highway, it is surprisingly nimble at low speeds thanks to the off-road heritage that Phil mentioned. Its 5.7-liter V-8 may be out of a time when gas was half the price as it is now, but the engine packs plenty of punch and has a delightfully throaty V-8 sound when pushed above 3000 rpm. It is a purpose-built vehicle and is quite the luxurious place in which to spend time. Is it as well-rounded as its competition? Probably not. Would I turn one down? Never. But maybe that’s just my childhood coming back to me.
Donny Nordlicht, Associate Web Editor
Most Lexus products are clearly camouflaged from their Toyota counterparts — when there is one — but the LX and the Land Cruiser seem way too close together in looks, feel, and price. As big and dumb as these antiquated behemoths may be, though, they’re also easy to like, as we learned in a Four Seasons test of a 2008 Land Cruiser. Just like our old Land Cruiser, this LX is shockingly quick when it comes to acceleration. Toyota’s 5.7-liter V-8 is quite impressive; it’s too bad the company won’t build a sporty car around it.
Another of the LX’s nice qualities is its supercomfortable highway ride, although I was surprised by the LX’s lack of a blind-spot monitoring system. I didn’t realize how much I’ve come to rely on such driver-assistance features, after spending so much time in our similarly large Four Seasons Infiniti QX56. Even the Infiniti’s beeping lane-departure helper would have been welcome during my two round-trip jaunts to downtown Detroit in the LX. And as Phil noted, the Lexus’s fuel mileage leaves a lot to be desired — I averaged an indicated 15.5 mpg over 320 weekend miles.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
The typical Lexus LX570 driver will rarely explore full-throttle acceleration, panic braking, and at-the-limit handling maneuvers, but our performance testing highlights the sensations you feel in more pedestrian driving. Running the LX570 through our test procedure revealed how the silly combination of massive weight, off-road capability, and on-road comfort necessitate a pillow-soft suspension that doesn’t exactly like quick changes in speed or direction. In our skidpad test, the LX570 heeled over dramatically, and under braking the nose dives to the ground. It’s a strong reminder that this is a big, lumbering ute from the days of yore.
Buyers in this class would be wise to check out the Infiniti QX56 and Mercedes-Benz GL-Class, or to look at some slightly smaller vehicles like the BMW X5 and Acura MDX. In addition to the soggy driving dynamics, the LX570 is hampered by an interior that’s not particularly modern and awkward ingress and egress. All of the above competitors offer much more modern packages in terms of driving dynamics, styling, and usability. It’s time for Lexus to drop this beast and develop a three-row crossover in the image of the unequivocally successful RX350.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor
Base price (with destination): $78,630
Price as tested: $87,274
5.7-liter V-8 engine
6-speed automatic transmission
Torsen limited-slip differential
Adaptive variable suspension with active height control
4-wheel disc brakes with ABS
Vehicle stability control & crawl control
Theft deterrent system with engine immobilizer
Daytime running lights
Dual-swivel adaptive front lighting system
Rain-sensing windshield wiper
Leather and wood trimmed interior
Hard disk drive navigation system
XM NavTraffic, NavWeather, XM Sports
Power folding 3rd row seat
Power sliding 2nd row seat
Power tilt/telescoping steering column
Power tilt/slide moonroof
4-zone automatic climate control
Illuminated running boards
Options on this vehicle:
Luxury package — $3740
Dynamic radar cruise control
Heated and ventilated front seats
2nd row heated seats
Heated steering wheel
20-inch liquid-graphite finish wheels
Mark Levinson audio system — $2850
Mark Levinson 19-speaker surround sound system
6-disc DVD/CD changer
DVD-audio and DVD-video playback
DVD rear entertainment system — $1990
9-inch wide liquid crystal display screen
2 wireless headphones
Cargo net — $64
Key options not on vehicle:
12 / 18 / 14 mpg
Size: 5.7L DOHC 32-valve V-8
Horsepower: 383 hp @ 5600 rpm
Torque: 403 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm
Curb weight: 6167 lb
Wheels/tires: 20 x 8.5-inch alloy wheels
285/50R20 Michelin Latitude all-season tires