BARGAIN RANGE ROVER OR OVERPRICED LANDCRUISER - THAT HAS LONG BEEN THE LEXUS LX 570 DILEMMA.
The 5.0-metre-long proper offroader boasts everything but the kitchen sink; heck, even a fridge is included. That’s true of a Rangie, too, but it asks around double the $140,500 (plus on-road costs) cost of the latest LX 570.
This third-generation LX 570 is eight years old, however, and is based on the Toyota LandCruiser of the same vintage. That means big ticks in terms of reliability and offroad capability, but are any skin wrinkles turning into deeper cracks?
Vehicle Style: Large SUV
Price: $140,500 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 270kW/530Nm 5.7-litre V8 petrol | eight-speed automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 14.4 l/100km | tested: 21.3 l/100km
Lexus has worked hard to iron out the ‘crows feet’ in the LX 570 package with this sizeable late-life upgrade. Only the roof, door skins and lower tailgate remain from the pre-facelift model and the cabin is freshly designed.
There’s also a botox-like injection of new infotainment and safety technology (see below) that bundles with revised adaptive suspension and offroad aids that will make mountains feel like molehills.
The LX 570 remains a 5.7-litre V8 petrol-only proposition because the turbo-diesel available overseas is restricted to five-seat configuration only. A new eight-speed automatic rounds out the major mechanical change.
- Standard equipment: sunroof, active cruise control, head-up display, power windows and mirrors, keyless auto-entry, multi-function trip computer, leather seat trim, electrically adjustable driver’s and passenger seat with heating, four-zone climate control air conditioning with console fridge, electric tailgate, automatic dimming rear-view mirror, automatic on/off headlights and wipers
- Infotainment: 12.3in colour screen with USB/AUX inputs, digital radio, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, wireless phone charging, satellite navigation with live traffic updates, Mark Levinson audio with 19 speakers, dual rear 11.6-inch HD entertainment screens
- Options fitted: $16,500 Enhancement Package (21-inch alloy wheels, heated steering wheel, heated middle seats, and ventilated front and middle seats)
- Cargo volume: 701 litres (5 seat), 259L (8 seat)
The LX 570 continues to feel like a big, cushy lounge room inside, particularly if you’re seated up front.
A new dashboard delivers a large colour screen as its highlight (a bit like bringing home a new TV to the lounge room, in fact) and the soft, leather-padded flanks and new three-spoke steering wheel look premium and modern respectively.
The analogue clock is even cased in real metal, although some plasticky switchgear and the ‘stitched rubber’ dash-top let the side down.
Further back and the eight-year-old origins of this LandCruiser-based Lexus start to show.
The LX 570 is not brilliantly packaged, despite its enormous exterior, with the middle-row seats placed low to the floor and little footroom available underneath the front chairs.
In five-seat configuration, the LX 570 has an enormous boot, and even with the third-row flipped down there’s boot volume equivalent to a small hatchback’s behind them.
The LX 570 is superbly equipped for the price, though in some respects its Toyota LandCruiser Sahara cousin beats it for around $22,000 less (all with an arguably stronger diesel engine – but more on that later).
Lexus bundles 21-inch alloy wheels in with a heated steering wheel, front ventilated seats and middle-row heated/ventilated seats as a sizeable $16,500 option. However even the $118,500 Sahara gets front ventilated/middle-row heating as standard.
Likewise the top Toyota’s included rear screens and active safety equipment mostly match the LX 570’s kit for less.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 270kW/530Nm 5.7-litre V8 petrol
- Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, Selectable 4WD
- Suspension: Multi-link independent front and live-axle rear
- Brakes: ventilated front and rear discs
- Steering: hydraulically assisted variable-ratio mechanical steering, 11.8m turning circle
- Towing capacity: 750kg (unbraked), 3500kg (braked)
As with the LandCruiser on which it’s based, the LX 570 will be basically unstoppable offroad. There are few more trusted brands in the business to get you where you want to go and back again than Japan’s Toyota and Lexus.
On a rocky, steep offroad course just outside of Canberra, the LX 570 felt barely perturbed. The terrain looked nasty through the windscreen and cameras, yet the suspension and wheels on the Lexus felt like they were churning through cream.
A ‘crawl’ function leaves the electronics to manage downhill descents through five ‘speed stages’, while raising or lowering the suspension is no harder than flicking between high and low-range for the automatic.
A particularly impressive feature can lock the rear wheels at starting speed to assist with turns, essentially ‘pivoting’ the car on its rear axle.
Lexus admits that, sadly, very few owners of new LX 570 models will traverse offroad very far. They should, particularly because this large luxury SUV is better off the beaten track than on it.
On touring roads, the suspension’s Comfort setting is too pillowy, exaggerating the sensation of float and resulting in occupant head-toss.
Normal, Sport and Sport+ modes are only slightly firmer, while remaining comfortable, though some shudder and shivers through the body over larger impacts indicate that perhaps rigidity could be improved for the next generation.
In modern Land Rover offerings, such as the Range Rover Sport or even the Discovery 4, not only is the chassis expertly judged for comfort and offroad, but it can also deliver driver enjoyment. This isn’t the case with the LX570.
While the big Lexus contains its roll and pitch decently for a 2740kg eight-seater, the steering is very loose and slow. Throttle response is particularly dull and the eight-speed auto can hesitate and lurch on kickdown.
The V8 engine can feel responsive once it is wound-up, however it’s a big drinker for relatively little reward.
Despite offering 270kW and 530Nm, it feels no quicker and is less effortless than a V8 diesel LandCruiser Sahara with 200kW/650Nm.
Yet the petrol Lexus claims to slurp 14.8 litres per 100 kilometres (we saw 21.3L/100km but this included offroading) where the $22K-cheaper Toyota claims 9.5L/100km.
Needless to say, a diesel V8 would significantly improve the LX570 package.
ANCAP rating: N/A
Safety features: 10 airbags including dual-front, front-side, rear-side and full-length curtain, ABS, ESC, pre-collision warning then auto-braking, blind-spot monitor, lane departure warning then steering vibration, adaptive LED headlights with automatic high-beam, four-camera panoramic view monitor, front and rear parking sensors
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
The new Infiniti is almost as loaded for $110K, but it’s likewise V8 petrol-only. The Sahara at $118K at least provides diesel torque and economy. For driveability, both the Discovery 4 and Range Rover Sport are simply superb – and they’re equally as good offroad, though lacking the Toyota/Lexus reliability reputation.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
In the right setting, the Lexus LX570 can be an accomplished package. That setting is probably offroad, while enjoying some cool mineral water from the front fridge and watching a DVD in the middle row after having notched your climate zone down a degree or two. The suspension is cushy and reigns supreme offroad.
The petrol V8 is extremely thirsty yet dull, however, and the calibration of the throttle and steering rarely feels right for on-road usage.
There are a couple of equipment shortfalls compared with its cousin, the cheaper LandCruiser, but none are as major as the lack of its diesel option.
This large Lexus cannot match the engineering excellence of a Range Rover, then, and nor is it substantially better than the cheaper Toyota. Be that as it may, however, it remains the choice for maximum luxury and offroad ability with that all-important trusted badge.