2012 Lexus LX 570
– Very luxurious ride
– Cabin space and features
– Decent offroader
– Very expensive
– A bit bulky to handle
– Average power and economy
For those who feel that the Toyota Land Cruiser is simply too common, and they still want one, the Lexus LX has always waited on the sidelines, offering a bit more for whole lot more. The Land Cruiser got a minor update for 2012, and so has the latest LX 570.
Gaining what has now become known as the corporate “spindle” grille, the Lexus LX 570 now looks more distinctive from the front, even while it looks almost exactly the same as before from any other angle. For those keeping score, it now has bi-xenon headlights and a bunch of factory-fitted LEDs as well.
Inside, the LX has a totally unique interior compared to its Toyota sibling, including a different dashboard, curvier door panels, premium materials and more gadgets. There are soft-touch surfaces everywhere, with leather stitching on the seats, doors and even the centre console. Strips of real wood and bits of chrome complete the upscale look. Only the hard-plastic glovebox cover felt like it didn’t belong in this expensive car.
Space is excellent for first-row and second-row passengers, while the third-row is reserved for kids, unless the middle-row passengers are feeling generous and move their bench forward, electrically of course. The front seats are wide, moderately-bolstered, electrically-adjustable, and ventilated. Access to the third row is manageable if you’re young, with a foldaway second-row seat. The third row can be electrically folded up along the sides of the cargo area, as the solid-axle rear suspension does not allow for a fold-flat third row like in the Infiniti QX56. This, of course, comes at the cost of reducing luggage space, but there is still ample room for cargo.
Features include smart keyless entry and start, DVD navigation, dual rear-seat DVD screens, sunroof, power-operated tailgate, Bluetooth, front and side-curtain airbags, and all the usual power features. The touchscreen is easy to control, and while the entire interface has been redesigned with nicer graphics, it takes time to figure out all the features. The premium CD/MP3 stereo with in-dash changer is a strong performer, as is the digital a/c with rear controls. The tailgate is a two-piece design, so even if the top half is powered, the bottom half has to be opened by hand, assuming the powered top half bothers to open in the first place after you keep pushing the button. Other gadgets include auto-levelling headlights which turn with the steering, adaptive cruise control and adjustable suspension.
The carried-over 5.7-litre V8 engine is good for 362 hp at 5600 rpm and 530 Nm of torque at 3200 rpm. The smooth torquey engine offers a proper kick from low speeds, although it doesn’t gain speed as quickly once the revs get going. This was somewhat reflected in our rather underwhelming 0-100 kph time of 8.0 seconds flat, which is exactly what we got with the 2008 LX 570. The 6-speed automatic gearbox is smooth and is best left to make its own decisions, since manual mode is a bit lazy. Our overall fuel consumption averaged 23.3 litres/100 km, which is rather awful, but we did bomb around everywhere, driving it like typical owners do.
The engine is great for relaxed cruising, muffled to the extreme. It is easily one of the quietest vehicles we’ve ever driven, with barely-noticeable wind and road noise. The suspension can be set at Comfort, Sport, or somewhere in between. In Comfort mode, the ride is pillowy-soft, and most bumps disappear, which is impressive for a truck platform. The side-effect is an overly floaty feeling on sharp dips on the road, and the lean in corners is a bit disconcerting.
Switching over to Sport mode, the ride is a fair bit firmer, crashing over speed bumps instead of gliding over them like before. Body roll is reduced, but it becomes a game of balance to keep it in check, with smoother steering inputs rewarded by better grip around corners. Sudden movements upset the big LX rather easily, especially under braking. It doesn’t help that the brake pedal lacks any sort of feedback and has to be pounded at high speeds. But the electronically-monitored brakes do fine in most cases. The top-spec 20-inch alloys laden with 285/50 tyres offer reasonable grip, but the lifeless steering is more likeable in parking spaces than in precision driving.
Speaking of parking spaces, the LX is not too hard to park, given its rear camera and beeping all-round parking sensors, although the somewhat large turning circle doesn’t help. However, some of this trucklet’s many selling points include the cameras mounted on the front and under the right side-mirror, which are supposed to aid parking. In our experience, we found the distorted camera views hard to decipher and ultimately useless. The rear view and sensors are enough. The big side-view mirrors are great for road-awareness behind the car, but they also block part of the front-side view around turns.
But as mildly unwieldy as it is onroad, it shines much more off the beaten path, with full-time all-wheel-drive, low-range gearing, height-adjustable suspension, crawl-control, downhill-assist, hill-start-assist, and even a new feature called overturn-assist that can lock an inside rear wheel at low off-road speeds to make tighter turns. The last four gimmicks are unnecessary for sand really. There is plenty of power and torque to get through any soft-sand situation, but it is limited by the 20-inch bling-wheels. If dune-bashing in something this expensive is an actual concern, we’d recommend the 18-inchers on the “base” model. The extra on-demand ground clearance helps a lot, but the long front and rear overhangs should still constantly receive attention to avoid expensive damage.
The only real concern affecting would-be buyers is the price, which is a whole lot more than the likes of the larger Infiniti QX56. However, the LX is a fine entry, and should continue to dominate the market populated by the likes of the smaller Range Rover, the softroading Escalade, and the unpopular Mercedes-Benz GL-Class. Its appeal lies in parent-company Toyota’s legendary reliability. It may not deliver the performance we’ve come to expect at this price, but it does overwhelm in the luxury department, and it’s all that matters in this segment.
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