2014 Lexus LX 570 Expert Reviews

Expert Reviews

2014 Lexus LX 570

New Car Test Drive
© 2014 NewCarTestDrive.com

The Lexus LX 570 is a true luxury vehicle, with advanced safety, comfort and quality features. It's also a big, heavy vehicle that can tow hefty loads, haul heavy cargo, and transport up to eight people and their gear across great distances in comfort.

The 2014 LX 570 carries over from 2013. The Lexus LX 570 got a new look for 2013, including a new grille, along with updated electronics and additional convenience features.

The Lexus LX 570 uses the same heavy-duty frame and stout powertrain as the Toyota Land Cruiser. 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.

The Lexus LX offers more technology and a higher level of luxury than what is found on the Land Cruiser. Among its technological advances are wide-view parking monitors, adaptive front headlights, and an active damping suspension control system. A Mark Levinson audio system is also 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 LX 570, though also highly capable, aims 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. Either vehicle will go just about anywhere. The ability to haul boats or horse trailers up to 7,000 pounds makes the LX 570 the most capable SUV offered by Lexus, while the Land Cruiser can tow up to 8,500 pounds. Safety features are on a par with the best luxury sedans.

The Lexus LX 570 is relaxing to drive on long trips, gliding down the open highway with ease; but it's also equipped with a brace of thoughtful features to make around-town driving and parking more convenient.

The LX is by now well-established as a technology showcase for Lexus. It was the first Lexus to offer a wide-view front and side monitor system for hard-to-see areas. Cameras are located inside the grille and below the right-hand side-view mirror, and the radar antenna is positioned behind the Lexus emblem in the front grille. The LX also offers Adaptive Radar Cruise Control and a Pre-Collision System.

A tri-lingual navigation system first appeared in 2008. The latest hard-disc system incorporates Bluetooth, Lexus Enform with Safety Connect, Lexus Insider, music streaming, and of course the usual XM NavTraffic, NavWeather, Stocks and Sports. Also included are automatic phonebook download capability, fuel prices, and the Lexus Enform Application Suite.

Smart Access keyless entry unlocks all five doors 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.

All Lexus vehicles are assembled in Japan. Finished vehicles are inspected three times, testing for such qualities as quietness, steering wheel feel, color matching and door sound accuracy.

The Lexus LX 570 competes with the Cadillac Escalade, Land Rover Range Rover, and Mercedes-Benz GL-Class. The Range Rover and GL-Class were all-new for 2013, whereas the Lexus LX was last redesigned for the 2008 model year.

Model Lineup

Lexus LX 570 ($82,630)

Walk Around

The most noticeable feature of the 2014 LX 570 is its recently-introduced spindle grille, which visually unites the upper and lower air openings into a single wide-hourglass shape (like, we suppose, the cross-section of a pulley or spindle). The grille unifies the look of all Lexus models, as the others have adopted it. A horizontal bumper bar is present, but recesses slightly into the spindle-shaped opening, so the grille and not the bumper is by far the front end's dominant visual device.

On some Lexus models, the grille change has been dramatic. Less so on the LX 570. The face it wore for the previous five years included an inverted-trapezoid grille above the bumper and a fairly prominent rectangular air slot below it. With 20/20 hindsight, one can almost see the spindle-grille struggling to suck in the bumper and thrust itself out. The fact that the grille texture hasn't changed all that much adds to a feeling of evolution rather than revolution. Four bright horizontal bars still support the big Circle-L in the upper grille, and the two previously dark horizontal bars below the bumper are now bright. The headlight clusters have changed little, if at all, in shape. However, the projector-beam lamps and LED running lights inside them seem more sharply defined, and the foglamp recesses are now deeper and more consciously chiseled.

Adopting the current face added about half an inch of length and sacrificed some off-road utility, tightening the previous approach angle from 29 degrees and 31 degrees with the suspension in the Normal and High positions, to 25 and 27 degrees, respectively.

Otherwise, behind the LX 570 face is basically the same old box as before. For 2013, wider body side moldings visually flattened the body sides, but Lexus said the actual sheet metal hadn't changed. Broad mirrors, pronounced wheel arches and a wide stance combine to suggest a muscular character. A chrome accent highlights the rear bumper protector.

The LX 570 still looks bigger than it is. Bumper-to-bumper, it's almost exactly the same length as the latest Range Rover, while riding on a shorter wheelbase. Perhaps not as distinctive as the Range Rover, the Lexus design strikes us as clean and timeless in a uniquely Japanese way. We especially like the 20-inch wheels with their five split spokes and Liquid Graphite finish; they look far richer than the rather unimaginative 10-spoke pattern used previously.

Interior

The cabin of the Lexus LX reflects Japanese ideas of simplicity, strict attention to detail, and functionality as a form of luxury. New colors and surfaces have kept the design fresh.

There are two standard leather colors to choose from: Black or Parchment. Both come with mahogany wood trim. The difference in atmosphere is dramatic: Black suggests a dark, cozy, intimate den; Parchment, a bright and cheery sunroom. Either way, the detail work on the leather, trim panels and dash area is in keeping with Lexus standards. Stitching on the seats is conspicuously uniform and stands up to focused inspection. The Luxury Package upgrades to semi-aniline leather, and extends the mahogany trim to the inside door switch plates.

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, along with controls for the information display. There's more brightwork on the dash than in the past, but it's darker in tone and still used judiciously.

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. At the top of the center stack, a Thin Film Transistor (TFT) color multi-information display indicates steering wheel angle, digital speed, turn-by-turn navigation, and Multi-Terrain mode, in addition to outside temperature, current mpg, mpg since refueling, cruise range, miles driven since start, and tire pressure information. The display also shows height setting and warning messages as they apply. Again, visual simplicity is achieved.

The front seats are roomy, supportive and widely adjustable. The driver's seat adjusts 10 ways, and the passenger seat 8 ways, including lumbar support. The standard Easy Access system automatically retracts the steering wheel and driver's seat when the ignition is turned off.

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's almost 43 inches of legroom at the front, with generous shoulder and hip room. Even with the moonroof, headroom exceeds 38 inches for the first two rows.

Built into the interior are 10 airbags, including two knee airbags. A roll-sensing curtain airbag is designed to protect all three rows, and second-row passengers also have separate seat-mounted side airbags. All eight seats have three-point seatbelt systems. Active headrests are 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. In real life, the third row will seat three adults best if the middle passenger likes to cuddle.

Two- and three-zone climate control systems are common in large cars and SUVs these days, but the Lexus LX has separate climate controls for four zones, so people in the first and second rows can dial in their own air flow volume and temperature. A total of 28 vents distribute air flow. The blower has seven levels, and a micro dust and pollen filter conditions the incoming air.

XM Traffic Radio, which selects the least crowded route to a destination, is included in the standard audio system. The Mark Levinson option provides an upgrade equal to any automotive audio we know of. A hard drive offers 30 gigabytes for music storage, playable through 19 speakers that generate true surround sound. The system is compelling and memorable.

The LX bias leans toward carrying people, and keeping them comfortable. But for those occasions when bulky cargo is the order of the day, the rear seats fold out of the way to create 83.1 cubic feet of cargo area. The rear hatch opens using the key fob; the tailgate opens manually via a lever atop the tailgate. For groceries or other everyday uses, the 15-cubic-foot area behind the third row is sufficient. The third-row seats split 50/50 and stow against the side of the cabin, creating 41 cubic feet.

Cubby storage for the driver comes up short, a disappointing shortcoming for a large vehicle. There's nowhere to put anything on the center console: no place for a cell phone, keys, sunglasses case, or wallet.

Driving Impressions

On the move, the Lexus LX 570 is smooth, quiet and untroubled. The higher seating position permits long-range forward visibility, keeping occupants above the flow of ordinary traffic, practically eyeball-to-eyeball with full-size trucks. The commanding view, combined with the lack of noise and vibration, combine to create the sensation of a protected cabin, and a sense of well-being.

The LX moves out readily at part throttle, creating the sensation of power in reserve. The engine is a 5.7-liter V8 shared with the Toyota Tundra pickup truck and Land Cruiser SUV. It's built for torque, and 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 revving the engine as high gives the LX a different character than the Cadillac Escalade.

The 6-speed transmission has a very low first gear, complementing the engine's torque with enhanced mechanical leverage. The net effect is more power at low speeds. That low first gear is useful when creeping over rough terrain or when pulling a boat up a slippery boat ramp. For higher speeds, the six-speed offers two overdrive gears (fifth and sixth), allowing 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.

Abysmal fuel economy is the penalty to be paid for so much heft and power. The LX 570 gets a fuel-economy estimate from the EPA of only 12 mpg in city driving and 17 mpg on the highway.

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 acceptable 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 4×4. 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 or low range, or leave it open in either range. Normally, most people will be operating in the unlocked, high range mode. 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, locking the center differential and using low range would supply maximum balance.

The Lexus LX does not offer a locking differential in either axle, 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 one trick the Land Cruiser has that the Lexus does not have is its Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS), with variable-rate anti-roll bars that allow greater articulation in extreme conditions; so the Toyota may be better suited for those who expect to use their SUV as an off-road vehicle. Multi-terrain ABS works at low speeds on-road or off, improving braking performance on gravel roads. Multi-terrain Select allows drivers to choose from five types of terrain settings.

Crawl Control is designed for use on steep downhill trails where control is the highest priority. It holds back the vehicle, making sure the speed is appropriate to the steepness of the terrain. All the driver has to do is keep feet off the pedals and steer; the system helps keep the vehicle going straight down the hill. A Turn Assist feature helps tighten the turning circle by adding brake force to the inside rear wheel.

The Lexus 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 airbag suspensions; but in the LX, coil springs are used on all four corners, supplemented by an active variable damping system (AVS) that controls body pitch and dive. The combination is effective. We noticed that the LX squats very little upon hard acceleration, and stayed composed during spirited driving.

A switch on the dash selects Sport, Normal, or Comfort suspension damping. We preferred Comfort for highway driving and for driving around the neighborhood. We switched to Sport when facing a mountain road with a lot of side-to-side transitions. We found the difference between Normal and Comfort relatively small, but the difference between Sport and Comfort was definitely discernible.

Maneuvering a big SUV can be challenging. Parking is made easier by low-effort steering at slow speeds. Driver visibility is challenged, however. From the driver's seat, we found the hood to be tall visually, making it hard to keep track of the right front corner. Rear visibility, meanwhile, is compromised by headrests and sheer height. Fortunately, clever electronic systems come to the aid of the driver.

One system uses wide-angle cameras in the front grille and passenger-side mirror to give the driver an enhanced view along the front and side of the vehicle, projecting images of these blind spots on a split-screen display. Another system uses ultrasonic sensors to warn of contact with objects around the front, rear and corners of the vehicle when parking. We found that operating these parking aids simultaneously was tremendously beneficial in tight quarters, making parking easier, quicker and safer.

Powerful brakes help slow this big SUV safely down from high speeds. They include large ventilated disc rotors with multi-piston calipers, enhanced by numerous active safety systems. These include Brake Assist (shortening stopping distances in emergencies), all-terrain ABS, and Electronic Brake Force Distribution to balance braking on slippery surfaces.

The LX 570 comes with Trailer Sway control. We towed a 7,000-pound trailer and found the engine and transmission had no trouble hauling the load up hills. The downhill side is often the bigger challenge, as both brakes and transmission are needed to maintain control. We found that the transmission would downshift on its own, from sixth to fifth gear then to fourth gear, to enhance engine braking and fuel economy. The uphill/downhill shift logic seems flawless, responding to very slight tip-of-the-toe throttle inputs. But when manual control seems called for, a sequential shift mode gives the driver this control.

A Pre-Collision System is optional. Though pricey, it's an innovative safety system, enabled by radar to determine if a crash is unavoidable. If that happens, the system tightens up the seatbelts, increases brake sensitivity and applies maximum braking force. By reducing the speed at impact, and positioning the occupants, PCS allows all the other built-in safety systems to work better.

The Lexus LX 570 offers luxury, exceptional capability off road, towing power, and Lexus build quality. Last redesigned for the 2008 model year, it's getting long in the tooth and has been bypassed by some newer designs.

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. Mitch McCullough contributed to this report. John F. Katz also contributed.

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