What's the ultimate luxury SUV on the market? To even be considered, it should have impeccable quality, an opulent interior, true capability and style. Fifteen years ago, this segment was basically only occupied by Range Rover and the Lexus LX, but since then many challengers have sprung up.
Lexus faces its competitors with a host of updates to its biggest and brashest SUV, the LX 570.
After a few years without a strong visual identity, Lexus has delivered a punch with its bold and polarizing "Spindle" grill design, as seen on the Lexus LF-LC concept unveiled in January. The marque has applied the look across its entire lineup, and it looks rather handsome on the LX 570 — definitely an upgrade. The totally new front fascia is rounded out with LED-accented headlamps.
Exterior is one thing, but the measure of the LX 570 is really in its interior. It's a spacious, smartly laid out passenger compartment with as much care paid to rear seat comfort as there is to the front. Soft leather is almost everywhere, along with endless storage and comfort options. Fit and finish remains bulletproof, right down to the soft rubber buttons on the steering wheel and cushioned hand grips on the doors. And underneath the huge, positionable center console armrest is a Cool Box — essentially an air-conditioning-powered fridge.
Under the tall hood is a silky-smooth 5.7-liter V8 that makes 383-hp and 403 lb.-ft of torque. The power is delivered effortlessly through a six-speed transmission. It's a fantastically refined powertrain that never seems to be working hard now matter how hard you push it.
As a result of a very pressable throttle pedal, fuel economy is rated at just 12 city/17 highway, which is in line with what we observed. A diesel option would definitely lessen the sting at the pump.
The LX 570 has truly amazing visibility — high perspective, plus huge openings and a tall windshield give you a great view into the distance. One passenger observed, "I feel like a queen looking down on people." I think that's the idea.
Enormous side mirrors help the big SUV 'shrink' around you to help it hide its size on the road, and firm steering keeps it from feeling floaty or unwieldy.
Big plastic selector buttons feel a little cheesy and have the effect of looking the opposite of rugged and heavy duty.
The appearance may be trivial, but their function is not: These control the ride height and stiffness setting of the air suspension, activate Hill Descent and select between high and low gear.
Passengers who want to roll Marlo Stanfield in total rear-seat comfort are treated to independant zones and a full-featured climate console.
Rear passengers also have headrest-mounted screens that connect to the DVD player. Sound is delivered through special wireless headphones.
DVD playback can be controlled from a remote control that snaps into the rear center armrest.
A third-row electronically folds away at the touch of a button for greater cargo space.
The LX 570 is related to the Toyota Land Cruiser, a 'proper' SUV made famous in the harshest environments the world has to offer. With legendary, heavy-duty underpinnings, the LX has true off-road prowess, not just superficial off-roader features tacked on to look impressive on the spec sheet.
A particularly steep speed bump will likely be the toughest conditions it will see, but with electronic air suspension and full-time 4-wheel drive, it's nice to know that it could do whatever you asked of it.
New for 2013 are 20-inch wheels with "Liquid Graphite Finish" that seem to ape the design of the $375,000 Lexus LFA supercar — and we're okay with that. Tires are massive 285mm on all four corners.
The LX 570 forges its path with some of the best headlights we've ever tested. They provide a wide, far-reaching field of light, and turn with the wheels in the direction you're going.
The 2013 Lexus LX 570 starts at $80,930 and ours cost $90,170 with options. It's not an insignificant amount of money, but keep in mind it's 6,000 lbs of feature-packed goodness that drives very well and can handle anything.
After years of quicetly building solid, high-quality cars, Lexus has struggled to have a strong identity. But with a new design language and unique capabilities, the LX 570 has established an identiy that is uniquely Lexus: Excess, in the most sensible way.