Daily Driven: 2019 Lexus LX 570
Ultra-Modern Styling, Old-School Bones: The Best of Both Worlds?
To those in the know, the Lexus LX 570 is so much more than a posh luxury SUV designed for Westchester County lawyers and Beverly Hills plastic surgeons. Although its overpowering Lexus-signature spindle grille and massive 20-inch wheels are made for priority placement at the valet stand, the biggest Lexus on the market today actually takes most of its mechanicals from the 200-Series Toyota Land Cruiser. That means the LX 570 is equipped with such niceties as a locking center differential, low-range transfer case, and the latest in Toyota’s off-road electronics.
Our time with this particular LX 570 was split into two occasions—the first being our trip to the Colorado Climb in September and the second a full week of daily driving and a two-night trip to Palm Springs a month later. Both encounters gave us a strong handle on what this Lexus does best: Get dirty in the mountains one day, then polished up for a wedding the next.
Dapper in DenverGiven its aging platform (the 200-Series Land Cruiser debuted more than 12 years ago), we expected old-school off-road dynamics from the Lexus LX 570 in our day of off-roading in the Rocky Mountains near Breckenridge. With the center differential locked and the 20-inch wheels and P285/50R20 tires moving through a commendable amount of travel, the big SUV tackled a technical, rock-strewn trail without any drama whatsoever.
However, like other modern Toyota 4x4s, the LX—which was most recently face-lifted for ’16—offers a few technological upgrades compared to other luxury SUVs. Crawl Control, which regulates throttle and braking application at speeds below 5 mph, was a helpful tool that allowed us to focus on picking the appropriate line. Crawl Control also features Turn Assist, which applies additional braking force to the inside rear wheel when making tight corners. While we have reservations as to the usefulness of Crawl Control—we’d rather just do it ourselves—Turn Assist was much appreciated.
Also appreciated off-road is the LX 570’s dimensions. Narrower than other modern SUVs, the Lexus fits between obstacles with more wiggle room, easing rock-rash anxiety significantly. And with its standard air suspension offering a maximum of 11.9 inches of ground clearance, the luxe Lex does a good job of avoiding those rocks altogether. Of course, as with most height-adjustable suspensions, the ride gets a bit bouncy all the way at the top.
Still, in the rocks and dust high above Denver, we found a lot to love about the Lexus LX 570.
Striking a Pose in Palm SpringsAs old as the LX 570’s architecture is, we figured the on-road portion of our Daily Driven battery would tax our generosity, and in some ways, it did. For example, the Lexus’ steering is too overboosted to offer any kind of road feel, reminding us a great deal of 1990s-era fullsize GM trucks. Furthermore, the floorpan is too high and the front seats are mounted too low for rear-seat passengers to have any kind of toe room, impinging on comfort for people riding in the back. And most pressingly, the husky 5.7L V-8 swills premium fuel at an alarming rate; the best tank we could muster in our weeklong loan got us 14.52 mpg, with average fuel economy hitting just 13.4 mpg.
Our other major complaint has nothing to do with dated design and everything to do with needlessly complicated modern electronics. The very attractive 12.3-inch widescreen infotainment display is difficult to navigate using Lexus’ Remote Touch trackpad interface. Furthermore, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are conspicuously absent, though the LX 570 does include Siri Eyes Free for some voice-control functions.
But those dynamic and ergonomic shortcomings are offset by the LX 570’s gorgeous modern interior design, long list of safety and luxury features, and unaffected road feel. The three hours between Los Angeles and Palm Springs were dispatched with total ease, the Lexus wafting down the road with nary a complaint.
With the active suspension set in Comfort mode, bumps were absorbed almost completely, and body control was commendable through corners and over undulating pavement. To be certain, this tall and narrow SUV features plenty of body roll, but it never feels unstable or unpleasant, even in somewhat aggressive driving. Sport mode stiffened up the suspension and reduced roll, but at the expense of a grittier ride. You bought a Lexus, not a Lamborghini: Sit back and enjoy the floatiness.
That thirsty V-8 also made quick work of merging maneuvers, with a surprisingly aggressive exhaust note pleasantly surprising us at full throttle. Taking advantage of the engine’s 383 hp and 403 lb-ft, we were able to easily (and accidentally) hit triple-digit speeds on freeway ramps—that could explain away some of the SUV’s poor fuel economy.
Arriving at a wedding rehearsal dinner in the LX 570 felt all too perfect. The country club’s valet predictably parked the SUV right out front, its Atomic Silver paint taking full advantage of the desert sunset. From the dining-room window, we could admire the Lexus design cues, done remarkably well on the big canvas. For example, the brash spindle grille looks very nice on the larger, more angular front end of the LX 570 than it does on smaller Lexus models. Pointy taillights likewise feel more appropriate here, as do the revised window openings that accompanied totally new sheetmetal in the model’s ’16 refresh. Overall, the look is bold, but cohesive, and in that aforementioned paint color, the LX 570 requires double-, triple-, and quadruple-takes to absorb its uniquely attractive styling.
Pricing for the ’19 LX 570 starts at $85,830, and the two-row model comes standard with just about every feature imaginable. To that price, our tester added an $1,190 Luxury Package (heated and ventilated front and rear seats, semi-aniline leather upholstery, and LX projector door lamps) and a $150 heated steering wheel, bringing our total to $88,465 with destination. A three-row LX 570 starts at $90,830 and offers additional optional extras like a rear-seat entertainment system, heads-up display, and more.
That’s certainly a lot of coin for a vehicle that’s mechanically outclassed by most of its competition, but there’s still so much to recommend the Lexus over the more modern Range Rover or the more spacious Cadillac Escalade. Toyota reliability, world-class off-road capability, and brash-yet-elegant styling put this one near the top of our favorites list.
Vehicle: 2019 Lexus LX 570 Two-RowBase price: $85,830
Price as tested: $88,465
Engine: DOHC 32-valve 5.7L port-injected V-8 with intelligent variable valve timing
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Horsepower: 383 hp @ 5,600 rpm
Torque: 403 lb-ft @ 3,600 rpm
Towing capacity: 7,000 pounds
EPA fuel-economy rating: 13 city/18 highway/15 combined mpg
Actual calculated economy, 654-mile trip: 13.42 mpg
Passenger volume: 159 cubic feet
Cargo volume, seats up/down: 32.1/83.1 cubic feet