I love big SUVs, and I'm completely enamored with luxury. The 2011 Lexus LX 570 delivers on both accounts, and adds a heaping helping of capability in addition to its other qualities. LX remains basically unchanged since it underwent a major reworking for the 2008 model year, and Lexus says that LX will return for 2012 just as it sits for 2011. My loaded test vehicle carried a $86,710 sticker price, a few ticks above LX's $77,755 base price. Lexus's 4-year/50,000-mile warranty and 6-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty are included. The EPA estimates that LX 570 can achieve 12 mpg city/18 mpg highway.
So why do I find myself looking for flaws in LX 570? Am I falling out of love?
LX 570 has always been one of my favorite full-size luxury SUVs. It takes the Toyota Land Cruiser platform, already a capable, dynamic vehicle, and elevates the luxury quotient without sacrificing the basic character of the platform. Unfortunately, some of the details are starting to look a little dated. LX's exterior design emphasizes size and strength, at a time when the focus has shifted toward smaller, more efficient vehicles. LX is starting to look a little anachronistic. Just a little.
Inside, the luxury and comfort factor is unchanged. My test vehicle was equipped with the $2,240 Luxury Package, which included semi-aniline leather trim, heated and ventilated front seats and heated second row seats, a center console-mounted cool box, African Bubinga wood trim and a beefy heated steering wheel. I counted 33 buttons and controls on the center stack, which required a bit of study to operate efficiently. Add another 19 buttons and levers on the driver's dash and steering wheel and 5 on the center console, and LX starts to look a little busy.
There are buttons that I won't complain about, and those are connected to LX's optional ($2,850) Mark Levinson audio system. Mark Levinson is a renowned name in high-end home audio, and this 19-speaker turns the LX's cabin into a superb listening room. I was less impressed with the DVD rear seat entertainment system ($1,990), because the 9" wide LCD screen blocked my rear view when it was deployed. I prefer headrest-mounted individual screens, or individual accessory screens or tablet computers for that reason.
LX's second row is a very comfortable place to ride, with ample head, leg and hip room for three adults. The third row is okay for kids, but a bit difficult for adults to access. When the third row is in use, there's room for 15.5 cubic feet of luggage. Fold the third row, and you can carry 41.0 cubic feet of valuables. Tumbling the second row brings the cargo capacity to 83.1 cubic feet.
Lexus hides a 5.7-liter V8 under the hood (and under a substantial shroud), capable of producing 383 hp and 403 lb-ft of torque. LX gets standard all-wheel drive and a 6-speed automatic transmission with a Torsen limited-slip center differential. A series of levers on the center console allow you to select transmission, drive and suspension settings to match the conditions that you point your LX toward. The system is not nearly as sophisticated or inter-related as Land Rover's Terrain Response, but with 8.9" of ground clearance and decent approach angles, LX will do well on rocky terrain and will reward a driver's skills off-road. LX is not a go-anywhere off-roader, but its rugged underlying body-on-frame structure will keep it going where reasonable drivers need to tread.
On the pavement, it's hard to forget that you're piloting 5,995 lbs of SUV down the road. Acceleration is good, but not neck-snapping by any means. LX stops surprisingly well, considering the amount of momentum it can generate, but you do need to remain alert and give yourself room in traffic. Body roll is nicely controlled with double-wishbone independent front suspension and anti-sway bars front and rear. A wide range of technologies has been applied to make LX safer to drive, including anti-lock brakes, electronic brake force distribution, vehicle stability control and hill-descent control. Adaptive front lighting is also standard. In the event of a crash, there's a full array of airbags, energy-managing crumple zones, side impact door beams and Safety Connect automatic collision notification.
There are a few other vehicles to consider if you're considering the Lexus LX. Right within the Lexus/Toyota family, the Toyota Land Cruiser shares a platform with the LX, and even gets the same powertrain. Land Cruiser can be decked out to near-luxury standards -- but it won't get all of the high tech features that LX can offer -- but it does get a base price of $68,920 ($8,835 less than LX). Land Rover's LR4 is the only three-row Land Rover, and its most capable off-roader (in my opinion). LX outdoes LR4 in terms of luxury, but not ride quality. Infiniti's QX56 got a makeover for 2010, and has loaded up with technology and luxury features. Cadillac's Escalade is still a contender, and is even available with a fuel-saving hybrid powertrain. Mercedes-Benz's GL-class (my current crush) ups the ante even more, with three available powertrains, including a diesel option.
When the LX 570 debuted in 2008, I fell in love. Time has dimmed my ardor somewhat. LX 570 hasn't changed, so maybe it's me. I've met other SUVs; I've grown; I've got different needs now. It's not you, LX 570 -- it's me. I want an SUV with a little more edge, a little more personality than you. Don't worry -- I'm sure you'll find someone else. For now, we're going to have to say farewell.
- Luxurious, capable and big.
- Great optional sound system.
- Power everything.
- Dated exterior design.
- Thirsty engine.
- Busy center stack.
Details and specs:
- Base price:$77,755
- Engine: 5.7-liter V8 32-valve DOHC, Dual VVT-i
- Horsepower: 383 @ 5,600 rpm
- Torque: 403 @ 3,600 rpm
- Transmission: 6-speed automatic with full-time four-wheel drive
- Fuel Economy: 12 mpg city/18 mpg highway
- Wheelbase: 112.2" Vehicle Length: 196.5" Width: 77.6" Height: 73.4"
- Curb Weight: 5,995 lbs
- Cargo: 15.5 cubic feet behind third row; 41.0 cubic feet behind second row; 83.1 cubic feet behind first row.
- Warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles basic; 6 years/70,000 miles powertrain