First Drive: 2014 Lexus LX570
These days a premium SUV could run you a good $70k (give or take) – you’ll get a lot for that kind of money. So when you spend $90,000, you not only want it to be all, but a do all kind of vehicle. And that’s exactly what the Lexus LX570 is aimed to be. Whether you’re trumping the shopping mall speed bumps or forging rivers in the mountains, the LX570 is designed to get you where you need to go… in utter luxurious comfort.
Compared against other luxury SUV’s; the Mercedes GL450 and the Range Rover, the Lexus LX570 is a dinosaur using a traditional body-on-frame build verses the new unibody structure. Body-on-frame construction use to be the way to go for SUV’s that had a proper four-wheel-drive system; something that was good when fossil fuel ruled the roads and the mere thought of a Prius Hybrid was just a sketch on a napkin. The problem is, unibody builds are not only kinder to the environment with their light weight chassis and economic efficiency, but they make a vehicle feel more planted to the ground, smoother and enjoyable to drive. This leaves us with a pondering question, is the Lexus LX570 starting to fossilize or is it just enough to keep a dying breed going?
From the looks of things, the LX570 is a brute of an SUV – a wide body, tall cabin, and an attitude that says “Yes! I’m big, I’m beautiful… so get out of my way”. The LX570 was updated in 2012/2013 to keep up with Lexus’ trending schemes of their attractive yet aggressive spindle grille and HID headlamps strutting switchback LED daytime running lights. Now, you can’t spell Luxury without dripping it in chrome first, and against our sampled beautiful Claret Mica paint (meaning Red Wine), the body molded chrome accents is exquisite. And with a Liquid Graphite finish on the 20-inch wheels, you get the sense that this isn’t your average luxury sport utility vehicle.
Now, it can’t be a proper luxury SUV without a big V-8 engine under the hood. And that’s what the LX570 delivers – a 5.7-liter V-8, good for 383 horsepower and 403 lb-ft of torque. At nearly 6,000lbs this V-8 puts up a mighty grunt as it gets from 0-60 in 7.5 seconds through a six-speed transmission. And that’s about where the performance ends and the utilitarian begins. The LX570 pretty much drives the way it looks. It’s big, it’s clunky and it lumbers around – we like that! It feels like a proper SUV. To enhance your driving comfort, you can adjust the suspension system per ‘Sport’, ‘Comfort’, or ‘Normal’, we can understand ‘Comfort’, but “Sport”? Unless you’re a soccer mom running late, rushing your tots to one after school event to another, it’s not very likely you’ll need the ‘Sport’ mode. We decided it was best staying in ‘Normal’ mode as the ride quality was undeniably superb. The suspension was smooth, absorbing all of the roads imperfections.
Driving the LX570 can be cumbersome at times, while it maneuvers around quite easily for it size, the steering is a little too tight to our liking and there is a sense of vagueness when turning the wheels. Parking is also slightly tough and other drivers won’t be very forgiving. Now, remember this LX570 weights just shy of 3 tons, so it uses a set of really good brakes to stop it quickly. The downside to stopping quickly is getting back up to speed; that’s where the fuel consumption will eat every last dollar in your wallet. Rated at 12 mpg city and 17 mpg highway, the LX570 is no fuel sipper… and don’t let that “Eco” sign on the dash fool you. During our week we averaged a combined average of 14 mpg between both city and highway. And with a large 25 gallon fuel tank, you only get 265 miles of travel distance.
Where the LX570 truly shines is in its off-road capabilities. Earlier this year we took a Toyota 4Runner 4X4 rock climbing to see what all that 4×4 gadgetry could do, and we were dumbfounded. Although the LX570 is nothing like the 4Runner, it does share similar technology. However, the LX570 is much more advance in off-road aids: TORSEN Limited-Slip Center Locking Differential, Adaptive Variable Suspension System and Active Height Control System, Multi-Terrain Select, Crawl Control with Turn Assist, and Active Traction Control. We have full confidence that the LX570 can do what it needs to when the terrain gets rough, but let’s be honest, with our stunning Red Wine paint, the most off-roading this Lexus will see is the snow plowed road that leads to the ski lodge.
Upon entering, the stainless steel illuminated sill plates is just the start of what this Lexus has in store. For the ultimate luxury experience we opted to have our LX570 equipped with the $1,510 Luxury Package that upgrades it with gorgeous Semi-Aniline Leather trimmed interior featuring contrast stitching, Heated & Ventilated Driver and Passenger seats, Heated Second Row seats, Refrigerated Center Cool Box, and Genuine Wood Trim. All of that adds up to an ultimate level of comfort. We also sprung for a couple other excessive options like the $2,005 Dual Screen DVD Rear Entertainment, $2,350 Mark Levinson Audio System with 19-Speakers, and $1,000 Intuitive Park Assist with Wide-View Front and Side Monitors.
Considering the size, Lexus has done a fantastic job with the overall design of the interior cabin. The dash consists of clean lines and a two-tone contrast split by wood and silver trim. The large center stack infotainment system is nicely laid out for great functionality layered in silver garnish. The touch screen navigation does come off a bit dated in resolution quality but overall has a great user interface. The large power adjustable leather wrapped steering wheel finished with wood trim has a comfortable grip, and the audio and instrument cluster controls are well placed for user friendliness.
Rated as an 8-passenger SUV the LX570 has room for just about anybody. Because it is a full-size vehicle, the third row is a proper place that can fit a full size adult – head room is limited, but can work for a short period of time. To make more legroom for third row passengers the second row is power sliding – which is nice and there is easy access in and out of that third row, barely. If you are someone that doesn’t require the third row all the time, the seats power fold into the side – although there is still some manual labor involved. Naturally, the second row can fold and roll for additional cargo needs.
Back to our original question, is the Lexus LX570 starting to fossilize or is it just enough to keep a dying breed going? It’s tough to say, because while the LX570 has all the right ingredients to be a proper off-road luxury vehicle; and we like the body-on-frame construction, it adds ruggedness to the vehicle – reminding you that you’re in something that doesn’t mind getting its feet wet. But at 90-grand… for that money you could have the brand new Range Rover and that’s a hard one to argue.
|2014 Lexus LX570:||$81,780|
|Intuitive Park Assist w/ Wide-View Front and Side Monitor:||$1,000|
|Dual-Screen Rear Seat DVD Entertainment||$2,005|
|Mark Levinson Audio System||$2,350|