2019 Lexus LX 570 Drivers’ Notes Review | Long in the tooth
The Lexus LX is available in two flavors: a five-passenger two-row model and a seven-passenger three-row model. We had a chance to drive both, the first in Michigan and the latter in Oregon. There’s a $ 5,000 difference between the base price on the two models. Both models had the $ 1,190 Luxury Package (upgraded leather, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second row and LX puddle lights). The three-row came with quite a few more options, including a heads-up display, a cool box in the console, a Mark Levinson audio system and a dual-screen rear entertainment system. All in, our two-row tester came out to $ 88,195 while the three-row would set you back $ 99,710.
Senior Editor, Green, John Beltz Snyder: I like the design of the LX, and I can even overlook the giant spindle grille. I love the behemoth’s boxy proportions, rounded out just ever so slightly, though I do think Toyota’s version looks even better, and the Lincoln’s Navigator even better yet. Inside, the LX is comfortable and roomy, with really nice materials everywhere you look and touch. It’s still got that mousey Remote Touch interface for the infotainment system, though, which leaves much to be desired.
On the road, I noticed immediately that its adaptive air suspension is better than the more conventional setup in the Toyota Land Cruiser. It’s just slightly less eager to see-saw when coming to a measured stop. Coming to a measured stop, though, is the problem. The brakes in this thing are super touchy, like an on/off switch. It makes every stop feel like an emergency, whether you mean to or not. Then, no amount of suspension tuning can keep a beast like this from taking a nosedive. The amount of concentration it takes to keep this thing from panicking any time you use the brakes is mentally exhausting over time. I’m just glad I didn’t have anyone in the passenger seat.
Lastly, this thing guzzles premium fuel. I guess if you’re spending the $ 88k our tester costs, you might not care about the price you pay at the pump. Or maybe you do at that price. It’s gotta be at least a little bit painful to know that your Lexus gets the same 13/15 city/hwy fuel economy as the Mercedes-AMG G 63, especially when you could have had that gorgeous, more efficient (16/23 mpg) and more powerful (450 hp/510 lb-ft) Lincoln Navigator for the same price you paid for your Lexus.
Assistant Editor Zac Palmer: It’s not easy to justify buying a Lexus LX 570. The SUV literally weighs three tons. Google tells me that the LX 570 is equivalent to the average African forest elephant. Perhaps that’s something to be proud of, since it appears to be the smallest of three species of elephants currently in existence. “Congrats,” your friends will tell you, “Your car is only as heavy as the smallest version of the heaviest land animal on Earth.”
The Lexus does nothing to hide its elephant-like agility in the driving experience either. Steering is comically high-effort at low speeds, and it dips and dives like a professional boxer. If you didn’t know 6,000 pounds were along for the ride, you’d think there was an engine much smaller than the 5.7-liter V8 sitting under the hood.
The 2019 LX570 is a fun, rugged dinosaur to drive, but that grille has not gotten better with age. @therealautoblog pic.twitter.com/w8tIC4DkZc
— Zac Palmer (@zacpalmerr) March 13, 2019
Then there’s the question of utility. Our tester was the five-seat version. Even with those seats down, there’s far less space for your stuff than the footprint of the truck suggests. Competitors roundly wallop the Lexus-ised Land Cruiser in this department, and even the smaller Toyota 4Runner — based on the global Land Cruiser Prado — has better cargo numbers.
What I’m getting at here with these points, is that the LX 570 is never a practical choice. It’s an emotional one for somebody who wants to drive a cool, off-road vehicle that’s heavy on the luxury. Body-on-frame, dinosaur SUV dynamics are fun in a novel way, in that it rails hard against the trend of making every crossover feel more like a car with each new iteration. This Lexus isn’t pretending or faking it. You could get out there and go overlanding in one of the most well-built and tested chassis on the market, or you could get above average gas mileage and fade into the rest of the crowd with a run-of-the-mill compact crossover. The choice is not easy …
West Coast Editor James Riswick: While the Michigan crew had the five-passenger LX 570, the Oregon bureau chief received the full seven-passenger experience. Besides providing a three-person third-row with a 50/50-split that uniquely folds up against the cargo area walls, the seven-passenger model can be equipped (and mine was) with a variety of options not available on the five-seater: a color head-up display, wireless smartphone charging, a refrigerated Cool Box under the front center armrest, a dual screen rear entertainment system and a superlative 19-speaker Mark Levinson sound system. My damage came to $ 99,710, about $ 10,000 more than what they drove in Detroit.
Now, are those third-row seats worth it? Well, they do reduce cargo space whether raised or lowered, but as Palmer notes, it’s not like the five-passenger model is a cargo-carrying champ. In terms of actual comfort, two average-sized adults managed to sit back there for an hour-plus. They weren’t especially happy about it, what with their feet only a few inches lower than their butts, but the LX 570 offers something the Land Cruiser does not: a power-sliding second-row seat that provides crucial extra inches for those in the way back. Reason No. 1 that the LX 570 is the superior choice.
Hey @rmcounts, I too love the split-folding tailgate on the #Lexus LX 570. (Esp. since it helps keep everything in you’ve jammed in the tiny space between 3rd row and tailgate) pic.twitter.com/PG1Bk3QCHs
— James Riswick (@jriswick) March 12, 2019
Reason No. 2 would be the adaptive air suspension Snyder noted. It raises to clear obstacles, lowers to clear garage doors, and the added body control significantly improves handling. It didn’t feel like quite the behemoth I was expecting while navigating the winding highway that leads from Portland to Mt. Hood.
Yet, once on Mt. Hood, the LX 570 really came into its own providing resolute capability and assurance on slippery, snowy conditions that had other vehicles hopelessly slipping. Despite not having traction tires, dedicated snow tires, or chains, the LX 570 trudged up and down the winding road to Timberline Lodge with its full-time four-wheel drive system and various off-roading electronic aids dealing with a road that was 100 percent white. There were no clenching moments. This is a serious machine with serious capability, and although I didn’t have a Navigator on hand, I’m quite certain it wouldn’t have the same chops in this arena (despite being superior in so many others).
So, as a bougie luxury SUV for taking seven friends up a volcano to go skiing, the LX 570 excelled greatly. True, most of our luggage was in another car (very little’s left behind that third row). And it got 13 mpg. And Remote Touch is present. But hey, I’d still have one instead of a Land Cruiser.