Like the Land Cruiser, the Lexus LX 570 is designed for extraordinary versatility and an unusual combination of utility and luxury. But with the Lexus, luxury comes first.
Designed for a different kind of use, the LX offers a number of qualities and features that the Land Cruiser does not. These include technological advances such as active headrests, wide-view monitors, adaptive front headlights, and an active damping suspension control system. The Mark Levinson audio system is a Lexus exclusive, and the interior is built using a higher level of materials and finish.
The Land Cruiser is better equipped for rigorous off-road use; the LX570, also highly capable, has running boards and other conveniences that would become vulnerable in rugged terrain. The LX 570 is aimed more at the luxury car owner who occasionally needs guaranteed control on a snowy road leading to a ski resort, or safe traction on the graded dirt road leading to a ranch house or mountain fishing lodge. The ability to haul boats or horse trailers up to 8500 pounds makes this the most capable SUV offered by Lexus.
Safety features are on a par with the best luxury sedans.
Especially relaxing to drive on long trips, the LX is also equipped with a brace of thoughtful features to make around-town driving and parking more convenient.
The Lexus LX competes with the Cadillac Escalade, Range Rover, and the Mercedes GL550. The group is similar in many ways, with similar operational characteristics, but the LX caters to the distinctly American addiction to torque even more studiously than the others. Powered by a 5.7-liter V8, the LX makes most of its power early in the rev range.
Lexus LX 570 ($73,800)
The taller hood line, broad mirrors, pronounced wheel arches and wide stance combine to suggest a more muscular character. From the side, smooth convex side panels and flowing sheetmetal integrate the running boards. A bold front grille, mounted at headlamp-level, emphasizes size and strength, and minimizes the bumper, which flows smoothly around the wheelwells. Combination head and tail light clusters are used to emphasize state-of-the-art technical qualities, which include adaptive front lights and high-intensity LED tail lights. Use of chrome as an accent is selective and restrained.
To our eye, the package looks bigger than it is, and more sophisticated, without being garish. In actual fact, the LX is almost exactly the same size, or maybe a tad more compact, than its European competitor, the Range Rover. While not as distinctive as the Range Rover, the Lexus design strikes us as clean and timeless in a uniquely Japanese way.
The LX has become a technology showcase for Lexus. It is the first Lexus to offer a wide-view front and side monitor system for hard-to-see areas, and incorporates the new Adaptive Radar Cruise Control and Pre-Collision System. Cameras are located inside the grille and side view mirrors, and the radar antenna is located behind the Lexus emblem in the front grille.
All Lexus vehicles are assembled in Japan. The LX is assembled at the Yoshiwara plant, which was revised and revamped to produce the new 570, and the engines are produced at the Tahara manufacturing facility, where the LS sedans are produced. In all, the finished vehicles are inspected three times, testing for such qualities as quietness, steering wheel feel, color matching and door sound accuracy.
There are two interior decor options to choose from; black woodgrain trim with medium-gray leather, or ivory leather with dark brown walnut trim. We found both tastefully attractive, without being overdone, and consistent with Japanese design sensibilities. We're told the wood is California Walnut. Certainly, the detail work on the leather, trim panels and dash area is in keeping with Lexus standards. Semi-Analine leather is used on the seats and trim, a grade that has the benefit of consistent color characteristics. Stitching on the seats is conspicuously uniform and stands up to focused inspection. Chrome accents on the dash are used judiciously.
Features and controls consistent with high-end luxury sedans are built into the cockpit area, which is designed with a minimum of clutter. This is partly accomplished by mounting the phone, navigation, and audio controls on the steering wheel, as well as control for the information display that selects trip information.
The instrument panel is built around two large brightly lit dial gauges, speedometer and tachometer. Between the two are four smaller dials for fuel, coolant temperature, voltage, and oil pressure. An information display box, activated from the steering wheel, can show outside temperature, current MPG, MPG since refueling, cruise range, miles driven since start, and tire pressures. The display also shows height setting and warning messages as they apply. Again, visual simplicity is achieved, remarkably so, given how much information the instruments convey.
The front seats are roomy, supportive and widely adjustable. The driver's seat adjusts 14 ways, and the passenger seat 12 ways, including lumbar support. The center console lids function as armrests, and can be extended to work with different driving positions. Taller drivers will appreciate that front leg room is a priority. There is almost 43 inches of legroom at the front, with generous shoulder and hip room. With the moonroof, headroom exceeds 38 inches for the first two rows. One test driver in our group, who is six feet, eight inches tall, asked for just a tad more head room. For drivers any shorter than that, we'll wager there is ample space.
One of our favorite features, keyless entry, unlocks all 5 entry points when the driver touches a door or tailgate. So long as the key fob is somewhere on your person, Bluetooth proximity sensors unlock the car automatically. There is also a remote engine start option for those who would appreciate heat or air conditioning to raise or lower the interior temperature of the car prior to entry.
Built into the interior are 10 airbags as standard equipment. Front-seat occupants are protected by two-stage main airbags, two side airbags, and two knee airbags. A roll-sensing curtain airbag is designed to protect all three rows, and the second-row passengers also have separate seat-mounted side airbags. Standard child seat latches are incorporated in the second row. All eight seats throughout the cabin have three-point seatbelt systems.
Another Lexus safety system, active headrests, is standard on the front seats. In the event of a rear-end collision, the headrests automatically tilt forward to limit the chance of whiplash injuries.
Like a lot of large SUVs, entry into the cabin does require a big first step. We tended to use the sturdy grab handles to swing up and into the front. Third-row entry is made easier by use of a touch-and-tumble seat on the right side. It's still a bit of a crawl for adults to move into the back, but the rear seating area is surprisingly accommodating, at least for two adults. There are seatbelts and headrests for three, but in real life, the third row will seat three adults best if the middle passenger likes to cuddle.
Interior comfort and control systems have been re-engineere
The LX moves out readily at part throttle, creating the sensation of power in reserve. The engine is an advanced 5.7-liter V8 shared with the Tundra pickup truck and Land Cruiser SUV. It's built for torque, and it produces a lot of it, 403 pound-feet, early in the rev range. More than 90 percent of the torque is available before 2200 rpm, so most of the time the engine is loafing along with very low effort, which adds to the quiet, untroubled manner the LX conveys on the move. This ability to provide power without spinning the engine faster gives the LX a different character than the Cadillac Escalade or Land Rover Range Rover, which produce their peak torque at higher rpm levels.
The new six-speed transmission has a very low first gear, complementing the engine's torque with enhanced mechanical leverage. The net effect, once again, is low effort in ordinary driving. At higher speeds, the six-speed offers a double overdrive combination, with a sixth-gear ratio of just 0.588. This very tall cruising gear allows for quiet, effortless cruising. At 2000 rpm, our test unit indicated a speed of 72 mph. At speeds over 75 mph we were able to detect some wind noise coming from the mirrors, but thanks to careful noise isolation work, the powertrain is not the source of noise or vibration until much higher speeds are demanded.
Top speed is electronically limited to 137 mph. As you might expect with a four-wheel-drive of this considerable heft, the LX remains composed and relaxed even at speeds well beyond the recommended norm on America's superhighways. In bad weather, the LX really comes into its own, with a torsen limited-slip center differential biasing torque to maximize traction.
Drawing from its Land Cruiser heritage, the LX has the guts of a true 4x4. The four-wheel-drive system has four modes, actuated by a toggle switch on the center console. It's possible to lock the center differential in high range or low range, or leave it open in either range. Normally, most people will be operating in the unlocked, high range mode, which should deliver the best mileage. When there are patches of ice or water on the road, locking the center differential helps maintain grip as individual wheels encounter slippery surfaces. When the going gets really bad, such an ice storm or if deep mud blocks the path, locking the center differential and using low range would supply maximum balance to move forward without getting stuck.
Unlike the iconic 4x4 Land Cruiser, the LX does not offer locking differentials, relying instead on electronic traction control (A-TRAC) to prevent wheelspin. Our (considerable) experience with A-TRAC is that it provides enhanced traction and off-road capability sufficient for any unplanned event, and then some. The Toyota Land Cruiser, with available electronic lockers, might be better suited for those who expect to use their SUV as a 4x4 recreation vehicle, but both vehicles have multi-terrain ABS, which works at low speeds on-road or off, and both vehicles have Crawl Control. Crawl Control is designed for use on steep downhill trails when control is the highest priority. It holds back the vehicle, making sure the speed is appropriate to the steepness of the terrain, so all the driver has to do is steer.
The LX suspension supplies a mix of ride quality and cornering capability consistent with other large, multi-passenger luxury vehicles. Some vehicles in this class use air bag suspensions, but in the LX coil springs are used on all four corners, supplemented by an active variable damping system t
Stylistically less pretentious than the competition, the all-new 2008 Lexus LX 570 still offers power, unique luxury features, and exceptional capability on and off the road. Lexus build quality should assure long-term value.
John Stewart filed this report to NewCarTestDrive.com after driving the LX 570 along the coastal and inland roads around the greater San Diego area.