Utility vehicles have become the fastest growing segment of the auto industry expanding from a niche market to an all encompassing trend. From tiny sub-compact utilities through the compact, mid and full-sized models every auto maker is flooding their lines with SUV’s. Nowhere is the influence of this modern trend seen more clearly than in the high end luxury models now offered.
Car buyers who a few years ago might have bought a BMW 5 or 7 series, a Lincoln Town Car, or a Mercedes are now opting to get their opulence in a SUV. Not only are they seeking great rides and premium options; they are also buying off road capabilities. The Lexus LX 570 is the epitome of what these drivers are now buying in record numbers.
The three-ton LX 570 is powered by a 383 horsepower, 403 foot pounds of torque, 5.7 liter V8 engine coupled to an eight speed electronically controlled transmission. Power is delivered to a full time 4-wheel drive system via a TORSEN center differential with manual locking. With a twist of a knob for hill decent settings, the flip of a switch for 4 wheel low and the push of a button to lock up the differential the LX 570 is ready to off road in the most challenging terrain. The LX 570 is every bit as capable off the pavement as the Toyota Land Cruiser.
Inside the LX 570 is outfitted with luxurious, power adjustable leather seating equipped with both heat and cooling as well as an easy exit feature. From the comfort of the driver’s seat you can easily reach almost all of the very clearly labelled controls. As you would expect the LX 570 interior is a cornucopia of controls allowing you to set, adjust or turn off and on everything from steering wheel position and heater, to ride height and the type of terrain you are crossing. The LX 570 owner’s manual takes almost 400 pages to cover the operation of all the interior features.
A unique technology on the LX 570 is the Concierge Climate Control. Using 26 independent air vents and temperature sensors throughout the vehicle Lexus makes it possible to set a preferred temperature for every aspect of climate control including each of the seats in the front two rows. When set to Auto the seat heater or cooling will come on automatically, bringing the cushion temperature to whatever your individual setting is.
The infotainment system is powered by Enform offering a nice array of apps and functions that make driving easier and more enjoyable. Connection to your smart phone is quick and simple and reconnecting at start up is almost immediate. The navigation system is either voice or manually controlled and displays a very accurate location in high quality images. The system can detect the difference between a service road and the main lanes of a freeway. I did find the voice operation a bit clumsy and at times even frustrating, but once set the system was top notch.
The low speed 360 view camera system is a marvel to have in any car and works very well in the Lexus. At speeds under about 7 mph you can turn on the surround view to help you maneuver in parking situations or through tight spaces. The front and rear parking sensors can prevent a bump against a parking pole or another car. There is also an available cross traffic alert to warn of oncoming traffic as you back out of a blind space.
While most functions do have manual button operation a lot of those and many more are controlled by the Remote Touch joy stick and switch located in the consol. There is a bit of a learning curve to get good at using the feature, but after less than a week I had mastered it. You move the joy stick to highlight what you want to select for use and then either depress the stick or touch a button on the side of the pad. I found the button to work better as there was less chance of moving the stick to another feature as I pushed it down. The pad where all of this is mounted also includes a Map, Return and Main Menu button to shortcut those features. Here again, many of the procedures you would do with the Remote Touch can be done by voice control. The one shortcoming I found was that if the driver uses the right side console cup holder he is likely to depress the joy stick by accident. If you do just hit the return button to go back where you were.
Center Console storage is non-existent because what would have been storage is a cool box on the LX 570. Toyota, and therefore Lexus, has had a penchant for cool boxes since the days of the Previa Van and some buyers must find it beneficial. Unless you have an unquenchable thirst for cold drinks, or travel with medications that need refrigeration I expect the cool box will become a storage box in most cases.
The infotainment display screen mounted high is the center dash is a huge 12.3 inches across and can be separated into 2 display
functions, or one big map. Glare and changing lighting had no effect on the clarity of the display. Directly in front of the driver is the full color heads up display. This puts vital information where it can easily be seen. Navigation information, current speed, posted speed limits and fuel information are a few of the items we may want to know without taking our eyes off the road.
A Mark Levinson sound system is available on the 3 row edition of the LX 570 providing 450 watts, 19 speakers and 7.1 channels of audiophile quality sound. The standard HD Radio offers great sound and includes Siri eyes free, a subscription free weather and traffic app, I-Tunes integration and the Sirius Satellite system for 90 days. The Levinson system is not available on the 2 row version of the LX 570.
The exterior design of the LX 570 continues the bold grill and stance Lexus has taken the past few years. There is no mistaking the Lexus in your rear view mirror. The SUV weighs a whopping 6000 pounds and looks like it. My first impression was “Commanding Stature”. This car demands your attention. However, the overwhelming presence was muted by the wrap around rear lighting, slimline triple beam headlamps accented with LED lower brows and LED lamps in the front facia. The broad side lines are highlighted with just enough bright chrome to soften the massive vehicle. Large 20 inch polished alloy wheels help perch the LX above the common folk on the highway.
Lexus safety begins with the body and frame structure design to collapse around the ridged passenger compartment. Also included in every LX 570 is the Lexus Safety System of features to avoid or mitigate accidents, anti sway control, trailer sway control, 10 air bags, electronic brake controls, automatic headlamps and windshield wipers. Partly because of these systems, and partly because of the confidence inspired by the amazing ride of the LX you feel safe driving at any speed.
The LX 570 is available in 2 models, the well known 3 row version with power flip up rear seats and the new for this year the 2 row. The secret of the 2 row is that the base price is an impressive 5000 dollars less than the 3 row. When you realize that all 3 rows in the Southwest Region are ordered with another $8000 of option as standard practice the net difference becomes a very impressive 13 grand. The 2 row is also a staggering 1000 pounds lighter than the 2 row.
There were countless things that I liked about the LX 570, but there were also a few that I didn’t care for. A pet peeve of mine for years has been the lack of illumination on the cruise control switch making it difficult to use after dark. The switch for the surround view camera is hidden from easy view behind the steering wheel spokes. The radar cruise control will bring the truck to a complete stop avoiding the car ahead, but it does it a bit aggressively. This same seeming over braking is apparent while the truck tries to hold a steady speed on downhill runs. The LX requires premium fuel but the only visible notice of this is on the inside of the gas filler door and easily missed. This important notice needs to be more prominently displayed. The rear hatch is two pieces, the top section being automatic with a manual lower section. These are all relatively minor complaints on an otherwise excellent vehicle, but for the price asked for the LX 570 I would expect no complaints at all.
Listen to the interview with Bryce Roland of Lexus for more insight into the LX 570