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Car reviews - Lexus - LX - 570

Our Opinion

We like
Melodious engine, smooth auto, cabin materials and comfort, extensive features list, point and steer off-road ability
Room for improvement
Rear DVD screen integration, centre stack and console too busy, head-up display’s dislike of polarised lenses (LC500 is better), third row not removable, auto hunts a bit

Lexus’ leviathan LX570 off-roader takes luxury LandCruising to a new level

Lexus logo24 Dec 2018

Overview
 
LEXUS puts its own spin on off-roading, taking the already-plush Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series and refining it to an Eliza Dolittle level with the LX570 – there are a few signs of the working-class origins.
 
But it’s not lost all of the down and dirty ability, able to shift it’s big frame over punishing terrain with considerable aplomb.
 
The revamped styling has removed some – but not all – of the grating garishness that afflicted its predecessor, using the signature spindle grill and triple LEDs to much better effect, delivering a balanced look to the exterior.
 
An upgrade to the transmission could help with fuel use but it is now offered with a diesel if fuel economy is a concern.
 
Price and equipment
 
The LX570 pricing starts at $142,789 plus on-road costs, which is a reasonable sum up from the circa-$115,000 for the Toyota LandCruiser Sahara petrol model on which it is based.
 
There’s also now a diesel LX450d variant on offer, which at $134,129 sits neatly above the circa-$120,000 200kW/650Nm Sahara turbo diesel with which is shares a drivetrain.
 
In October, Lexus also lobbed the LX570 S that adds a bunch of sporty looking flourishes and higher grade materials inside for $168,089.
 
In terms of opposition, the Germans are represented by the Audi SQ7 TDI that carries a $161,900 asking price but little of the off-road ability offered by the Lexus.
 
Mercedes-Benz has the GLS500 at $163,290, but the off-road prowess of the Lexus would need the Benz pricetag to include the $3600 off-road engineering package.
 
It adds the 100 per cent locking centre differential, low range, underbody protection, off-road function for the lighting and transmission, height-adjustable suspension and a special off-road algorithm for the stability and traction control system.
 
Land Rover has its Range Rover Sport V8 HSE Dynamic in a similar ballpark at $157,500, but spiritually the Range Rover is probably a closer combatant. However, given the 3.0 Vogue starts at $200,200 it is out of contention on price and still doesn’t seat as many.
 
Nissan has recently facelifted its Infiniti QX80 and it wears a $110,900 pricetag, which is good value in comparison to the Lexus.
 
There’s no shortage of kit on board the facelifted Lexus to offset the price difference between it and the LandCruiser cousin.
 
It features a leather-trimmed cabin, power-folding third row, LED headlights and daytime running lights, wireless phone charging for compatible devices, keyless entry and ignition, quad-zone climate control (with rear armrest-mounted controls), heated and cooled front and (optional) outboard rear seats, nifty directional indicators next to revised LED tail-lights, front foglights, 20-inch wheels and a sensational Mark Levinson 19-speaker infotainment system that offers digital radio as well as running the rear entertainment system.
 
Those and other functions are displayed on the 12.3-inch screen, but it is sadly still controlled to a large extent by the brand's ‘Remote Touch Interface,’ a system that has retained the fixed-mouse setup and is difficult to use, particularly when underway.
 
The driver also gets a wood- and leather-trimmed wheel, a head-up display and a 4.2-inch centre information display between the instruments, thankfully with a digital speed readout given the head-up display is still difficult to see through polarised lenses. The LC500 sportscar’s unit has solved that problem with rotation settings – let’s hope it makes it’s way to the rest of the Lexus range soon.
 
Middle-row occupants are shielded by manual second-row window shades, which keeps the sun from devices or the 11.6-inch high-definition screens for standard rear-seat entertainment system. 
 
The screens are a good size but the payoff is a lack of integration, which means they can get in the way of entry and exit if the front seats are set up for taller drivers.
 
The options are part of an enhancement pack, which ups the wheel size to 21 inches, adds a heated steering wheel, front seat ventilation and second-row seat heater and ventilation for an extra $16,500.
 
Interior
 
There’s no hiding the origins of the beast but the materials and extra insulation mean it’s a serene and comfortable cabin for a large number of people.
 
The seats are well-cushioned and have some (but not overt amounts of) lateral support, and the driver gets a broad range of adjustment of both seat position, cushion and steering, all of which is electric.
 
Double sunvisors with extension facility is something few car-makers do but the front occupants of the LX570 get them and it’s a small touch, but a welcome one.
 
The wood finish looks a little passé but that aside, the cabin has a quality feel in terms of fit and the materials used, as well as the ambient LED lighting and back-lighting for all the switchgear, and there’s plenty of it.
 
The centre console and centre stack are both overpopulated with switches that could be better combined into a single unit. The sunroof is an ongoing example, where others manage a single switch for the tilt and slide functions, Toyota persists with two buttons.
 
The widescreen sitting atop the dash has no shortage of information on offer (but as already mentioned is not a touchscreen and difficult to control easily).
 
Lexus has long abandoned the green digital clocks of its earlier models and the analogue lock in the LX is an example of the new look, a classy timepiece set in the top section of the centre stack.
 
Rear passengers are well looked after, with climate, infrared headphones and audio controls in the rear armrest (as long as there’s no one in the middle seat), allowing them to listen to the soundtrack of a movie on the rear screens or other audio sources, while a rear HDMI input adds to the options.
 
It can also mean they control the audio for the entire car, which is not always a good thing.
 
Vents in the rear of the centre console are complimented by airflow from the roof for the middle, as well as roof-mounted vents for the three-seat third row.
 
With all three rows in place for passengers, Lexus claims 259 litres of luggage space, rising to 701 with five aboard and 1276 litres with only the front two occupants.
 
The third row claims to be a three seat bench but any more than two tweens could be considered cruel and unusual punishment on a long journey; the new diesel variant makes do without the third row at all.
 
One bugbear in the test car was the second row, which had a wobble and accompanying noise, which suggested it was not properly locked in. It was checked and re-locked on several occasions but still managed to emit a noise to suggest otherwise.
 
Engine and transmission
 
Fast disappearing in more ways than one, the V8 engine in naturally aspirated form makes a delicious noise, incongruous with the body cloaking it.
 
The biggest vehicle in the Lexus range is powered by a 5.7-litre V8 engine producing 270kW at 5600rpm and 530Nm of torque at a high-ish 3200rpm.
 
It is a cousin of the delicious LC500’s engine but doesn’t get some of that engine’s tricky bits, nor does it get the direct and port injection top-end that it does elsewhere in the world.
 
Now driving all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission, the 222-kg alloy 32-valve quad-cam V8 has dual variable valve control systems and a stainless-steel exhaust manifold.
It also has a solid thirst for 95RON PULP when it is being asked demanding questions by the right foot.
 
The claimed combined cycle figure is 14.4, but real world is closer to the urban cycle figure of 20.2 than it is to the highway number of 10.9. Our time in the big Lexus included 4WD work and towing a couple of tonnes of horse float and passengers (it is rated to 3500kg like the LandCruiser), resulting in an average of 22.6 litres per 100km at 34km/h.
 
Given the melodious nature of the engine, the more fuel-efficient methods of driving where not always being employed, particularly if testing the 0-100kmh claim of 7.7 seconds, but it also had plenty of highway work to make use of the overdrive gears (7th and 8th).
 
But the V8 is more fond of revs than it is generating low-down torque, so it won’t laze around in a tall gear and surge away with an apparent lack of effort like the turbo-diesel drivetrain might.
 
If that’s going to bother you then Lexus offers the LX450d with the 200 Series’ 200kW/650Nm turbo-diesel V8 (albeit drinking from a 93-litre tank rather than the 138 litres), but only slurping at a claimed 9.5 litres per 100km on the combined cycle.
 
The electronically controlled eight-speed automatic Aisin AE80F transmission gives the LX570 a shorter first gear, longer top gear and closer spread of ratios than the superseded six-speed transmission.
 
The top two gears are still overdrives, but the extra cogs help the engine stay in the engaging mid-range.
 
The electronics within the transmission are supposed to limit hunting between the gears – using throttle, engine revs, vehicle speed and other information – but it still sporadically hunts for the right gear during acceleration, although it is better at helping out the brakes on long descents.
 
Unlike many of the Toorak Tractors, there’s genuine off-road ability and the drivetrain has functionality to help in that setting, including the off-road Crawl Control cruise control system.
 
There’s also a multi-terrain anti-lock braking system to reduce stopping distances on unsealed surfaces, four external cameras that aid in parking as well as negotiating tight off-road terrain, and the ability to brake the inside rear in off-road conditions to tighten the turning circle. 
 
An approach angle of 25 degrees, a ramp-over angle of 23 degrees, a 20-degree departure angle and running clearance of 225mm might fall a little short of the LandCruiser’s numbers, but the height adjustable suspension helps out to some extent.
 
It’s still something of a concern given some of the low-slung bits on the nose.
 
Ride and handling
 
The Lexus breed has largely been about refinement, comfort and cruising in luxury and the LX570 is certainly in that realm.
 
The big lumbering off-roader has adjustable suspension that talks to the steering, transmission and even the climate control to tailor behaviour beyond the temperament of the double-wishbone coil-sprung front and five-link rear, also with coil springs.
 
Pushing the Drive Mode Select dial into the console selects Normal mode and for metropolitan duties that’s a good compromise between ride comfort and body control, the latter becoming a little unruly in the Comfort mode.
 
Sport and Sport Plus modes reign in the bodyroll to an admirable extent but there’s only so much the height-adjustable adaptive variable hydro-pneumatic suspension system can do when trying to keep a 2.7-tonne vehicle that is five metres long, two metres wide and almost as tall in check.
 
There’s still some of the ladder-frame judder over larger bumps and the low-profile 50-series rubber on the optional 21-inch alloys means small ruts and bumps sometimes intrude a little more than is ideal, but the overall impression on suburban roads is good.
 
Get away from the metropolitan meandering and the large wagon lopes along country roads with reasonably aplomb, making short work of overtaking, while sweeping country bends present few issues, but you’d leave it in Sport mode for that sort of roadwork.
 
Of course, the harder you push, the greater the suspension’s workload becomes and the laws of physics still apply, with the car turning in reasonably well after it’s had a moment of hesitation.
 
As bodyroll is fought by the suspension, the tyres suffer and the brakes need to work hard prior to the corners – for its girth and heft the LX does an admirable job but if sealed-surface cornering prowess is a priority (as well as some off-road ability) then the Green Oval and a bigger bank balance will probably be required.
 
The steering in the sportier of modes still feels a little over-assisted – that’s fine for the school park manoeuvres and rock-hopping, but if there are sports modes that can deliver better body control and firm up the ride and the throttle response, surely there’s scope for even more meat to the steering.
 
Putting it to work with a load on the towball doesn’t deter the LX either, with the rear suspension taking the weight and maintaining ride height without concern; a trip into the 20s for the fuel consumption accompanied the equestrian accessories, which was not unexpected.
 
Getting off the beaten track is a point and shoot exercise, made simple by the ability to select the type of terrain, follow the instructions and go.
 
Even tipping the scales at 2.7 tonnes doesn’t seem to seriously impede its progress, with the electronic traction aids and the considerable grunt making short work of the varied terrain.
 
Faster dirt roads are not beyond it either, but the earlier observations on sealed-surface cornering still apply.
 
Safety and servicing
 
Much of the LandCruiser’s core safety package applies to the Lexus – ten airbags (front, front side, front knee, second row side and curtain airbags across all three rows) are fitted to the cabin – and there’s the standard stability and traction control.
 
There’s also lane departure and blind spot warnings, rear cross-traffic alert and tyre pressure monitoring systems.
 
The driver gets an informative (at night or without polarised sunglasses during the day) head-up display, as well as automatic and adaptive high beam for the LED headlights, automatic emergency braking and active cruise control.
 
The auto-dipping of the high-beam is not the most perceptive system and doesn’t always react as quickly as it needs to oncoming traffic, yet can be tricked by the reflection from large road signs.
 
The active cruise control too needs more development and fine-tuning as it fails to hold a set speed on descent without a vehicle in front to keep it focused on the speed – whereas the German machinery will stick to a nominated speed downhill, the Lexus breed still seems to struggle enough to get a driver booked at the very least in Victoria.
 
The LX570 seems to have made progress but it still is not as subtle as its German opposition.
The Lexus has parking sensors fore and aft, as well as the four-camera ‘Multi Terrain Monitor’ system to keep an eye on areas beyond the driver’s eyeline – spruced as an off-road aid, it also works a treat when trying to thread the suburban car-park needle to avoid appearances on websites displaying poor parking practices.
 
The Lexus warranty is four years or 100,000km, with servicing required every six months or 10,000km, which is short of market expectations now, but at least it’s accompanied by a Lexus loan car (during the warranty period).
 
Either that or the dealership will pick up the Lexus and return it after servicing, an example of the customer benefits that put this brand ahead of the predominantly German and British opposition.
 
Verdict
 
The shared DNA with the Toyota LandCruiser might still be a problem for badge snobs, but there’s plenty of serenity to be had within the cabin of the biggest Lexus available.
 
A quality feel to the interior of the behemoth and a meaty (if thirsty) V8 to get it underway will hold appeal for many and the short maintenance intervals may well be offset by the ownership benefits and a superior level of service. 
 
Like much of the Lexus range it undercuts its German and British opposition on price and that makes a difference if heritage (good or bad) is not a priority.
 
Rivals
 
Range Rover Sport V8 HSE Dynamic from $157,500 plus on-road costs
Price-wise a direct competitor but not in terms of accommodation for more than five people, nor is it quite as focused on off-road ability (it can) as much as it able to carve up a favoured back road, something for which it is more configured off the showroom floor with adaptive damping. The Lexus can tool along on the blacktop at a brisk rate, but twists and turns at speed are at odds with the Japanese wagon’s tonnage, whereas the 386kW/625Nm supercharged V8 Brit does a better job in the bends.
 
Mercedes-Benz GLS500 from $163,290 plus on-road costs
More in the same philosophical realm of the 570 than the Rangie Sport, the big (but near-300kg lighter) Benz has three rows of seats and the muscle for on and off-road from the more frugal 335kW/700Nm twin-turbo V8 (if you’ve added the $3600 off-road engineering package from the options list), but there’s a little over $20,000 difference in terms of price.
 
Infiniti QX80 from $110,900 plus on-road costs
The re-cloaked Nissan Patrol mechanicals can take it a long way off the beaten track in the same way as the Lexus, and both have a similarly sweet 298kW/560Nm 5.6-litre V8 noise under full throttle and a comparable thirst for PULP, but the plastic surgeon has worked on the updated QX80 to good effect. The Infiniti equals the Lexus for warranty and pips for service intervals – 12 months or 15,000km.
Model release date: 1 December 2015

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