Smooth, strong engine
Serene, sumptuous interior
Advanced safety features
Infuriating infotainment controls
Dismal fuel economy
2019 Lexus LX570
The 2019 Lexus LX570 manages to remain fresh despite the fact that the current generation was introduced over ten years ago, due in large part to the fact that the exterior has gone under the knife three times – the last in 2015 involving major surgery that included an all-new interior.
The changes wrought four years ago included the LX570’s massive hourglass-shaped “spindle” grill, a love-it-or-hate-it styling touch that serves to both polarize the big ute’s looks was well as negatively impact its approach angle (the nearly identical Toyota Land Cruiser remains the platform’s vehicle of choice for serious off-roaders).
Bracketing that massive landmark are a pair of headlamp housings containing triple-beam LED headlights and L-signature LED daytime running lights that rest above inverted L-shaped fog light surrounds that trim a pair of faux brake ducts. Sweeping character lines and deep sculpting along the lower door panels breaks up what could easily have been a slab-sided look, while the rear fascia is dominated by a pair of L-shaped LED taillights, and a wide chrome strip above the license plate housing that delineates the upper edge of a split tailgate, reminiscent of a 1950’s-era Ford Station Wagon.
Illuminated running boards do their best to hide 8.9 inches of ground clearance, although the variable suspension can be lowered 2 inches for better ingress and egress.
The massive box of an exterior houses an interior that offers up everything expected in a luxury vehicle – sedan or SUV - including a choice of leather and wood trims. Up front, there's ample head, shoulder, hip and legroom in the nicely-bolstered, supportive seats, with accommodations just as comfortable for three adults in the middle-row seats that also split, fold, and recline.
Our test vehicle was equipped with the 2 Row Package – a configuration we highly recommend - which reduces vehicle weight by 200 pounds, the MSRP by a not-inconsequential $5,000, and eighty-sixes the lower elementary children occupants-only third row in favor of a 12.2 cu ft larger (53.7 cu ft versus 41.5. cu ft) cargo area behind the second row, along with a corresponding increase in space with the second row folded.
Checking things out further, we found the electroluminescent gauge cluster in front of the driver to be clear and easy to read, the user-friendly buttons and knobs buttery smooth, while a stunning central dash 12.3-inch infotainment screen capably performs triple duty as a navigation and rear-view camera display, as well as handling functions of the Lexus Enform infotainment system. Thanks to the wide expanse of glass, driver sightlines out the front, sides and back are excellent, and despite the wide C-pillar the view out the rear three-quarters is decent, while a standard rearview camera makes backing up relatively easy.
At the same time, the LX is hampered by a high cargo floor as a result of its body-on-frame construction, with volume behind the rear seats on 3-row versions barely more than a Honda CR-V, while the stunning infotainment screen is hampered by the outdated, haptic-feedback, mouse-like controller that's not only irritating, but typically too distracting to operate while driving.
As you might expect, the LX comes with a fairly inclusive list of standard amenities with the exterior sporting a full complement of LED lighting (headlights, fog lights daytime running lights, turn signals, tail lamps), heated mirrors with power folding and reverse auto-tilt, and a power rear door.
The list continues inside with leather-trimmed seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, a choice of wood trims, a power front passenger and power 14-way adjustable driver's seat (including cushion extender) with a memory function that includes the steering wheel and outside mirrors, standard navigation with voice command, analog clock with GPS time zone functionality, rain-sensing, variable-intermittent wipers, 4-zone automatic climate control, a power moonroof, a smart access card key and proximity key with push button start, and a 9-speaker premium audio system with Siri Eyes Free, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto capability.
Although our tester came with the 2 Row Option, the standard arrangement is 8-passenger seating with power-folding third row seats, as well as a power sliding second-row.
Standard safety features include a surround view monitor, pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, and lane departure warning.
Under the hood
The single engine offered is Toyota's 3UR-FE DOHC 32-valve 5.7-liter V8 that delivers 403 lb-ft of torque at just 3,600 rpm and 383 horsepower at 5,600 rpm, mated to a conventional 8-speed automatic transmission.
It’s no surprise that expected fuel economy figures for a 3-ton body-on-frame SUV will be less than stellar, so no surprise here. The LX570 scores an abysmal EPA-estimated 13 miles per gallon in the city, 18 on the highway, and 15 combined, while we managed to eke out a vehicle-measured 12.7 miles per gallon in moderate around town driving.
On the road
Never intended to be sporty, the LX570’s electro-hydraulic adaptive variable suspension still manages to deliver a smooth, well controlled ride over even the harshest road imperfections common to Chicago’s streets. The city’s many train track crossings magically disappear, and even side street speed bumps can be largely ignored. Body lean during cornering is noticeable in all three settings - sport, normal and comfort, but we found that brake dive is all but eliminated in the sport setting.
Even with all that outside nonsense going on, the cabin of the LX remains every bit as serene as any LS 460 sedan. External noise is well muted at around town (where it’s difficult to hear even the engine running) and highway speeds, with very little road, engine tire or wind noise entering the cabin.
Alongside its off-road prowess, the LX570 is also an ideal vehicle for long-distance cruising. At freeway speeds it feels composed and well planted. The engine pulls strongly and there's never any problem overtaking and passing vehicles or merging into traffic. Stopping is also sure, with no fade, and it's easy to modulate the brake pedal.
Hitting the road from a northern suburb of Detroit with all the adaptive nannies engaged, we stepped out of big Lexus in Chicago five hours and change later, feeling fresh and alert. The only glitch is that the steering, while light enough, doesn't offer much feedback to the driver.
Manufacturer suggested retail pricing for the 2019 Lexus LX570 starts at $86,855 for a base two-row model and rises to over $100,000 if you pick a three-row version and check all the boxes. Our Atomic Silver test vehicle was equipped with the Luxury Package ($1,190, semi-aniline leather interior, heated and ventilated front and rear seats, LX projector door lamps), and a heated brown walnut steering wheel ($150) which, with a $1,025 delivery fee, brought the total MSRP to $88,195.
The Bottom Line
Despite love-it-or-hate-it grille, a thirst for premium fuel, and obnoxious infotainment controls, the LX570 still captivates us with its powerful V-8, creamy ride, and lovely interior. When you toss in the impressive dealer experience and impressive off-road chops which we suspect are rarely taken advantage of, the big Lexus represents a solid choice in the full-size luxury SUV class.