Car reviews - Lexus - LX - LX570 5-dr wagon
It’s a grand, sweeping statement, plenty of off-road talent, quiet as the night
Room for improvement
Control space far too complex, looks are polarising
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11 Dec 2015
By TIM ROBSON
HERE’S a little-known fact about the Lexus LX it’s a multiple winner of one of the toughest off-road races in the world for production-based cars, the Baja 500.
It’s also undergone more than 240,000km of on- and off-road testing across, up, down and through Australia in the course of its life. It’s not just a ‘pretty’ face, then.
This is an updated version of the third-generation LX that launched locally in 2008 Australia first saw the second-generation version in 2003.
This mid-life refresh is comprehensive from an aesthetics point of view, with only the door and roof skins surviving the appointment with the designer’s stylus.
That simply enormous spindle-shaped grille certainly commands the most attention, but in a way its audaciousness suits the overt character of the LX very well.
Bold LED headlights and tail-lamps also bring the LX bang up to date. It’s as in-your-face as an auctioneer on a caffeine binge, but somehow, especially at 100 paces, it works.
Mechanically, the 200 Series underpinnings have been retained, but the addition of an eight-speed auto is a welcome one. As well, Lexus has also updated safety systems, incorporated a multiple-mode drive switch and given the interior a bit of a once-over, as well.
The 200 Series is a reasonably familiar animal, but the RX does a great job at disguising its workaday origins. Massive leather seats up front are powered, ventilated and heated every which way from Sunday the heating and venting can even be set to come on automatically.
The leather onslaught extends all the way through to the stowaway third row pews, while the second row passengers get large TVs and wireless headphones to keep them entertained.
From the driver’s seat, the sheer volume of switchgear is truly daunting GoAuto counted 46 between the centre console, transmission surround and steering wheel.
Adding to the learning curve is the use of double functions on the one dial, along with unusual designations and abbreviations, meaning that the user’s manual shouldn’t be left at home.
Our brief loop in the RX saw us tackle some mild off-roading and a few kilometres of tarmac. With a two-speed transfer case, height-adjustable suspension, a limited-slip centre diff and a revised electronically activated crawl control, the LX merely sniffed at the trails proffered to it.
The crawl control function can be adjusted via a dial to operate between 2.8 and 5.5km/h, though the new eight-speed auto does an admirable job holding the LX back in manual mode when traversing downhills.
With its dual petrol tanks, the LX is capable – even at a claimed 14.4 litres per 100km – of covering enormous distances, but a requirement for 95RON fuel at a minimum may rule out some destinations.
Its towing capacity is a healthy 3500kg, and there’s trailer sway control built into the chassis safety electronics.
On the road, the 5.7-litre V8 is sufficient to propel the LX along at a comfortable clip, but it’ll sing for its supper if pushed hard enough. As you’d expect, noise intrusion is minimal, though you’ll hear the 270kW engine if you want to.
The long-travel suspension system is set up with clever active dampers, which – on the smooth, well-cambered Canberra roads we sampled, at least – keep the tall, heavy, large SUV in line. We drove through winds gusting at up to 70km/h, which didn’t affect the LX at all.
Steering is certainly not sporting, but the LX quiet, easy to manage, refined and comfortable.
The adjustable drive mode did little to add to the driving experience on our very brief test. Really, though, having a Sport Plus mode on such a car is like having a turret gun on a rowboat a bit unseemly and certainly not necessary.
Lexus tells us it has three months’ worth of orders in the books already for the freshly updated LX. At $140,500 plus ORCs, we reckon it’s good buying for an absolutely stacked petrol-powered off-roader with LandCruiser ruggedness and a genuinely premium feel a Range Rover is easily fifty grand more.
A complex cabin array and a very contemporary exterior design may work against it slightly, but the LX570 is like many cars in the Lexus line-up it has built up a loyal following amongst its owner groups, and you can expect to see a few second-hand LXs popping up on classifieds sites in the coming months.
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