The Lexus LX 570 is a full-size luxury sport-utility vehicle that’s relaxing to drive on long trips as it glides down the highway with style and ease. It can transport up to eight people and haul their gear across great distances in comfort, as well as tow hefty loads. It has strong acceleration performance and excellent handling response for a large SUV.
The 2015 Lexus LX 570 competes with the Cadillac Escalade, Lincoln Navigator, Infiniti QX80, Audi Q7, Land Rover Range Rover, and Mercedes-Benz GL-Class. Escalade is all new for 2015, while Navigator is updated; Range Rover and GL-Class were all new for 2013, while the Lexus got a facelift on its chassis that was last redesigned for 2008.
The LX 570 is EPA-rated at 12/17 mpg City/Highway. We got 13.4 mpg in hilly city and 72-mph highway driving for a week.
For 2015, LX 570 gets the full-tilt multimedia capability, with standard Siri Eyes Free Mode which uses the latest iPhone models to enable you to call contacts, play iTunes, get navigation commands and more. There’s also the Lexus Enform App Suite which basically turns your phone into a super remote that can do just about everything but drive your kids to school. This Suite is upgraded for 2015 to include iHeartRadio 4.0 and Slacker.
The Lexus LX 570 uses the same heavy-duty frame and stout powertrain as the Toyota Land Cruiser, and like the Land Cruiser, the Lexus is designed for extraordinary versatility, a rare combination of utility and luxury. But luxury and technology come first with the Lexus, from its active suspension and adaptive headlamps to its Mark Levinson audio system and high quality interior. The Land Cruiser is better equipped for rigorous off-road use, while the Lexus is more for the family who wants to travel in style and safety to a snowy ski resort, a ranch house down a long dirt road, or a mountain fishing lodge. Still, the Lexus has 4×4 chops.
The Land Cruiser is rated to tow a mega 8500 pounds, while the Lexus can tow 7000 pounds, which is like a NASCAR stock car in a 22-foot trailer with tools. Trailer Sway Control is standard. We towed a 16-foot flatbed trailer carrying a puny sports car, and the big SUV’s rugged chassis and V8 engine (with 403 pound-feet of torque) barely felt it, at 70 mph. So we upped the load to a 24-foot travel trailer, and the LX 570 still never broke a sweat. Later we hit the full 7000-pound load, see our Driving Impressions.
A tri-lingual navigation hard-disc system incorporates Bluetooth, Lexus Enform with Safety Connect, Lexus Insider, music streaming, and XM NavTraffic, NavWeather, Stocks and Sports. Smart Access keyless entry unlocks all five doors when the driver touches a door or tailgate. Available but not standard are a pre-collision system with adaptive radar cruise control, and a front and side monitor system with cameras inside the grille and below the passenger sideview mirror.
The most noticeable feature of the LX 570 is what Lexus calls the spindle grille, which visually unites the upper and lower air openings into a sharp hourglass shape, like a spindle stretching the imagination. A version of this spindle grill appears on every Lexus. The bumper is mostly hidden, so the spindle is visually dominant.
The LX 570 is the same length as the Range Rover but looks bigger, perhaps because there is more overhang, because the Lexus wheelbase is shorter. Or perhaps because of the chrome in the grille and rear bumper; or perhaps because of the slab sides. Or maybe it’s the 20-inch 10-spoke wheels, beautiful in alloy painted graphite.
Broad mirrors, pronounced wheel arches and a wide stance give it muscularity as well as bulk. The projector-beam lamps and LED running lights are sharply defined, while the recessed foglamps look deep and chiseled.
The cockpit switchgear is uncluttered, partly thanks to steering wheel controls. There’s a huge speedo and tach, perfectly lit in organic white, dominating the instrument panel and sandwiching neat round gauges for fuel, coolant temp, voltage and oil pressure. There’s also a digital display window squeezed in there, which offers too much information.
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, multi-terrain mode, suspension height, outside temperature, current mpg, mpg since refueling, cruise range, miles driven since start, tire pressure, and warnings.
XM Traffic selects the least crowded route to a destination. The Mark Levinson option provides an upgrade equal to any automotive audio. A hard drive offers 30 gigabytes for music storage, playable through 19 speakers that generate true surround sound. The system is compelling and memorable.
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.
The Lexus LX 570 is smooth, quiet and untroubled. It’s composed and relaxed at higher speeds. The commanding view from its height, combined with the lack of noise and vibration, combine to create the sensation of a protected cabin, and a sense of well-being.
The 5.7-liter V8 is the same 383-horsepower engine used in the big Tundra pickup truck. It makes a ton of torque at low rpm, so the LX moves out readily at part throttle. More than 90 percent of its maximum 403 foot-pounds is available before 2200 rpm, so most of the time the engine just loafs.
The 6-speed transmission has a low first gear, useful for towing. At the top end of the transmission, both fifth and sixth gears are overdrives, with 72 mph coming at 2000 rpm.
Poor fuel economy is the price of power and weight, not to mention tall box-like aerodynamics. The LX 570 is EPA rated at 12 mpg city and 17 mpg highway. We got 13.4 mpg in hilly city and 72-mph highway driving for a week.
Drawing from its Land Cruiser heritage, the LX has the guts of a true 4×4. In bad weather it comes into its own, with a Torsen limited-slip center differential biasing torque to maximize traction. 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. Normal use is the unlocked high mode. When the going gets really bad, locking the center differential gives more traction, while low range is for extreme challenges, for example deep sand, mud or snow, or boulders to cross.
Low range can be supported by Crawl Control with Turn Assist. On steep downhill trails, a driver can take his feet off the pedals and crawl control will do the rest, performing perfect magic on the brakes to maintain a set low speed. Turn Assist helps tighten turning by braking the inside rear wheel so the vehicle pivots a bit.
The Lexus LX also uses electronic traction control (A-TRAC) to prevent wheelspin. We have considerable experience with A-TRAC and it’s always provided enough traction for our unplanned events. Selectable (if not planned) modes include Rock, Rock and Dirt, Mogul, Loose Rock, or Mud and Sand.
The Lexus LX suspension offers both a smooth ride and steady cornering. Some vehicles in this class use air suspensions, but the LX uses more traditional and coil springs, with an Active Variable Damping System (AVS) that controls body pitch and dive. We had a chance to drive the LX with spirit over some mountain roads. In Sport mode, the suspension stays on an even keel during enhanced acceleration and braking. The brakes are big and powerful, ventilated discs with Brake Assist and Electronic Brake Force Distribution to balance braking on slippery surfaces.
A switch on the dash selects Sport, Normal, or Comfort suspension damping. Comfort was good most of the time, and there wasn’t much difference at Normal; but we could really feel the Sport mode, especially in switchback curves.
Maneuvering a big SUV can be challenging. Parking is made easier by variable gear-ratio steering, needing less effort steering at slow speeds. The challenge with the LX is visibility; it’s hard to see the front corners, and the rear headrests get in the way out the back window.
But that’s what cameras are for. There are cameras in the grille and passenger sideview mirror, with the otherwise blind spots revealed on a screen. There are also sensors to warn of objects near the corners of the car. It all makes parking easier, quicker and safer.
At the other extreme from mall parking, we hitched up a 7,000-pound trailer and found the engine and transmission had no trouble hauling the load up hills. There’s a manual mode for the 6-speed automatic, but we didn’t need it that much, not even downhill, where the transmission will downshift on its own to slow the rig. The uphill/downhill shift logic felt good to us, responding to subtle throttle inputs.
A Pre-Collision System is optional. It uses radar to determine if a crash is imminent, in which case it hits the brakes to slow the vehicle, and tightens the seatbelts. However, we are hearing reports of these systems going off on their own. Driving down the freeway at 65 mph, and your car slams on the brakes for no reason; it happened to us at night in a Volvo XC60. We know of no cases where it’s happened to a Lexus LX.
The Lexus LX 570 offers luxury, capability off road, towing, 8-passenger seating, smooth ride, big power, and taut handling for a huge SUV. Last redesigned for the 2008 model year, it’s getting long in the tooth and has been bypassed by some newer designs.
Mitch McCullough contributed to this report, with Sam Moses reporting from the Pacific Northwest.