2014 Lexus LX570 Rocky Mountain Review

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2014 Lexus LX570

Along with its refined Lexus Luxury, the 2014 LX570 is truly a business-first SUV.

By Dan Poler
Rocky Mountain Bureau
The Auto Channel

Let’s get this out of the way right up front: Regardless of what this review says, you’re probably not going to buy the Lexus LX570. Lexus sold just 4,625 of these mighty SUV’s in calendar year 2013 – or about 386 a month. Nationwide.

The LX570 is a relic – a cultural curiosity, a throwback to the days when prestigious SUV’s led product portfolios because gas was cheap. We didn’t care about things like fuel economy, the hybrid was but a design on paper, and the type and price of the SUV you drove (and yes, admit it, you did drive an SUV) said something about your status.

But all that said, for what it is, if we evaluate the Lexus LX570 not in contrast to the wider market but in the context of what it strives to be, it’s a remarkably good vehicle. There will always be a few who need great size and capability out of their vehicles – seating in comfort and luxury, rugged body-on-frame construction, proper off-road abilities, and a high tow rating – but for whatever reason eschew the traditional choice of a well-equipped luxury pickup truck. The Lexus LX570 is one of the very few that still checks all of these boxes.

On first glance we can tell that this is a serious off-roader – don’t call it a crossover, because despite the popularity of the term, it’s most certainly not. Its boxy form sits high on 20-inch wheels with rugged all-terrain tires, providing nearly nine inches of ground clearance. There are a few exterior accommodations for comfort and show – running boards, a power rear liftgate, Lexus’ corporate grille up front – but this is a business-first vehicle.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

The interior is the pinnacle of Lexus’ comfort engineering. Soft leather covers all seating surfaces. The quietness of the cabin is exquisite. In addition to the driver and passenger up front and comfortable seating for three in the second row, a third row provides room for another three (provided they’re on the smaller side), and a series of motorized and manual controls make available or stow that third row. Unlike many other vehicles where the third row is stowed under the cargo floor, in the LX570 it folds up, not down – it splits in half and is stowed vertically along the sides of the vehicle, which does sacrifice some cargo space.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t comment on the vehicle’s controls. The Lexus LX570 has been on the market since the 2008 model year with only minor updates since its inception, and it’s starting to show. Controls are dizzying in their placement and labeling. We particularly take exception to small buttons fitted below the instrument cluster, labeled with acronyms and abbreviations in small print, and blocked from the driver’s view by the steering wheel. And the steering wheel controls are mounted atop the steering wheel in such a manner that their use can trigger the horn, a surprising oversight. But moreover, perhaps due to its somewhat advanced age, the LX570 lacks some of the more advanced features that have come to market in the past half-dozen years, features its competitors make available. Whither the blind-spot monitoring, the lane departure warning? Want adaptive / intelligent cruise control and forward collision mitigation? You can have that, but only as an option, and a $1,500 one. Perhaps that on a vehicle with a base price north of $80,000, I suggest that they should be included.

From his or her seat, the driver experiences a commanding view of their surroundings. The seating position is high and comfortable, truck-like. The enormous 5.7-liter V8 engine and six-speed sequential shift automatic transmission are smooth and responsive, despite the three-ton curb weight of the LX570 – performance could almost be described as sporty, until one has need to go around a corner. Steering is nicely weighted but a little vague when on-road, and the off-road suspension leans the vehicle fairly hard during turns. Between the vague steering and off-road suspension, we did find that the vehicle wants to wander quite a bit on the highway, and a good deal of attention is required to maintain one’s lane. The suspension is adjustable, and keeping it in the firmer sport mode does help, but then every bump and seam of the highway is brought to one’s attention.

The same features that make the vehicle a bit of a handful on the highway lend themselves well to control off the highway. The full-time four-wheel drive system and adjustable suspension, plus features like crawl control and multi-terrain select are nothing short of excellent. We found the LX570 performed admirably in the off-highway terrain we were able to throw at it, including dirt, mud and snow. The LX570 is a definitely an off-roader first, a highway cruiser second.

Where the LX570 does not shine is in its fuel economy. With projections of 12 / 17 / 14 MPG city / highway / combined, we experienced 16 MPG during our time with the vehicle. Lexus has not adopted recent advances like cylinder deactivation and active grille shutters which might help to improve the big vehicle’s economy, nor does the adjustable height lower the vehicle at highway speeds for less drag.

And then there’s the cost. With an eye-popping base price of $81,780, yes, you get full time four-wheel drive and all of the advanced off-roading features, but it bears mentioning that this is nearly double the base price of the not-very-dissimilar Toyota Sequoia. Although the Sequoia carries fewer creature comforts, like the LX570 it’s also body-on-frame, also seats eight, has the same engine, and also has multi-mode four-wheel drive. Or, for roughly the same price as-built price as the LX570, there’s the Mercedez-Benz GL450 – a unibody vehicle, but more adept on-road.

It’s hard for us to argue the value proposition of the LX570, but it’s a good vehicle when not evaluated through the lens of recent market trends, and undoubtedly it’s a very good choice for those select few needing to drive themselves and seven passengers up the side of a mountain on a regular basis. If you do happen to be one of those few in the market for a vehicle with these capabilities, it definitely bears a look.


2014 Lexus LX570
Base Price: $81,780.00
Price as Tested: $89,555.00
Engine Type: V8; 32-valve DOHC, Dual VVT-i
Engine Size: 5.7-liter
Horsepower: 383 @ 5,600 RPM
Torque (ft-lbs): 403 @ 3,600 RPM
Transmission: 6-Speed Sequential Shift Automatic
Wheelbase / Length (in): 112.2 / 197
Curb Weight: 6,000 lbs
Pounds per HP: 15.67
Fuel Capacity (gal): 24.6
Fuel Requirement: Premium Unleaded
Tires: 285/50R20 M+S
Brakes, front/rear: Ventilated disc / Ventilated Disc
Suspension, front/rear: Double Wishbone / Solid Live Axle
Ground clearance (in): 8.9
Drivetrain: Full-time four-wheel drive
EPA Fuel Economy - MPG
city / highway / observed: 12 / 17 / 16
Towing capacity (lb): 7,000
Base Trim Price: $81,780.00

Options and Charges

Luxury Package: (Semi-aniline leather-trimmed interior w/ contrast stitching, driver & passenger heated/ventilated seats with second-row heated seats, center console mounted cool box, smart access card key, wood-trimmed door switch plates & rear center armrest cover)$1,510.00

Dual-screen DVD rear-seat entertainment system with wireless headphones and audio/video inputs: $2,005.00

Mark Levinson Audio System: (19-speaker reference surround audio system featuring DVD-audio and DVD-video playback)$2,350.00

Intuitive park assist with wide-view front and side monitor: $1,000.00
Delivery: $910.00

Price as tested: $89,555.00

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