I had just climbed into the Lexus LX 570's passenger's seat when I turned to Donny Nordlicht and smiled. "I love big, body-on-frame V-8 SUVs."
Ok, love is a strong word, but I'm still a fan of trucks like the Infiniti QX56 and Lexus LX 570 for being anachronistic stalwarts. While crossovers like the GMC Acadia Denali are rocking unibody architecture and a V-6 engine, the Lexus has a big V-8 and a truck frame. As such your seating position is sky-high, the noise from under the hood is guttural, and the towing capacity is exceptional. Also the off-road capabilities are great, since this a variant of the Toyota Land Cruiser, which is off-road royalty.
I'm a fan on paper, but the LX 570's age is starting to show. While driving down a rutted dirt road, the rear suspension skipped and hopped, and a pothole bounced us toward the oncoming lane. On the road, the steering is pleasantly weighted but vague just off-center, which is what you get with an off-road steering alignment. Between this and the double helping of body roll that comes from a compliant, off-road-style suspension, highway driving is a bit tricky at Michigan freeway speeds. At one point I pulled one hand off the wheel for a moment to adjust the Lexus Enform infotainment system and the truck made a beeline for the next lane over. (It was at this point that I realized our $89,000 Lexus doesn't have a lane-departure warning system.) Freeway ramps are similarly unnerving.
I like the Lexus LX 570 on paper, but I'm going to pass on it. For my $89,000, I'll take the Mercedes-Benz GL450, which can take a corner and hold a lane much better than the LX 570 on the road (which is, let's face it, where these trucks will live). And why does it handle and ride better? Because it's a unibody-style crossover. Perhaps my love doesn't run that deep after all.
Ben Timmins, Associate Web Editor
This big Bessie doesn't like to stop. Driving home during one of Michigan's mini blizzards, I found more confidence running my fingers across the LX's many drivetrain and suspension switches that sit below the shift lever than I did applying pressure to the brake pedal. I could climb out of a ditch with far less effort than I could manage to slow truck down as I approached an intersection thick with snow.
But I will say that she's pretty for a gal with such a large frame. Dressed in a pearlescent white paint, the LX has all the full-figured elegance of Adele on stage at the Grammys. The Lexus family spindle-type grille translates better than I would have thought, given the difference in form between a sleek sedan and a stub-nosed SUV. One thing that was especially appreciated by this photographer was the traditional split tailgate around back, which is the signature of vehicles meant for towing. It made the LX an excellent chase car for a recent photo shoot. Opening only the top half, the lower tailgate made a nice divider between myself and the road, which was comforting given my experience with the brakes and driver Chris Nelson's throttle-happy heels.
Patrick M. Hoey, Photographer
The old-fashioned nature of this LX 570 is both a good and bad thing. In the positive category, I list the honkin' V-8 engine that pulls hard and sounds like it belongs in a truck. (The 5.7-liter V-8 is also found in the Toyota Tundra.) I love the fact that even though no sane person would off-road an $88,760 Lexus, there are enough switches, buttons, and dials for things like crawl control and 4-Low to conjure visions of scaling mountains and crossing deserts – which this truck will happily do.
The list of negatives begins with a bouncy, flouncy ride that makes the LX 570 prone to wandering within or outside of its lane. The body-on-frame design also means the load floor is very tall, and cargo room behind the third row of seats is close to zero. And then there's the fuel economy. The trip computer read all of 13.7 mpg when I turned in the keys.
Jake Holmes, Associate Web Editor
I enjoy driving vehicles like the LX 570 because they are almost comical in this day and age. Their size, fuel consumption, and lack of versatility (have you seen how that third row folds down?) are completely out of line with the most of the marketplace. However, it's not just for the laugh factor that I enjoyed piloting the LX 570. Thanks to its antiquated chassis, this luxo-barge has some of the best steering around.
Yes, the steering is pretty slow, but you wouldn't want quick steering in a 6000-lb vehicle with a high center of gravity. The steering is also pretty vague on-center, but I'd blame that on the 20-inch tires with tall sidewalls plus steering alignment meant to minimize kickback while driving in the dirt. Nevertheless, the LX has responsive, communicative, and direct steering, pretty much unlike anything else in the Lexus stable.
It really became clear to me how rare this kind of steering is becoming when I was behind the wheel of our Four Seasons Acura ILX, which has steering that embodies none of the characteristics of the LX's, even though it's supposed to be a sporty sedan.
Donny Nordlicht, Associate Web Editor