It's easy to brand the LX570 as an experiment in badge engineering, taking the new Land Cruiser 200, adding a few extras and quite a bit more on the price tag. Or is it?
The strange thing is, for the first time, the Lexus was launched before its platform brother, so we can argue that the LX is not a souped up LC, but rather the LC is a more standard version of the LX... if you can actually call the LC a base model. On the outside, there are striking similarities in terms of side profile and silhouette, but there are also marked differences, especially since the LX must convey the upmarket, sophisticated persona of Lexus. The headlamps and grille are much less brawny than its LC stablemate, going for a sharper, sleeker look to match the trapezoidal L-finesse grille. The rear, however, remains fundamentally the same, with changes to chrome trimmings and LED taillamps.
Underneath the massive hood is an engine bay neatly tucked away under thick, textured plastic. The heart of the LX570 is a new 5663cc V-8 motor that produces a very healthy 383 PS of power (at 5600 rpm) with another 546 newtons of earth-moving torque. The LC and LX may share the platform, but the LX exclusively uses petrol power versus diesel for the LC.
Step inside and you're greeted by an inviting set of premium semi-aniline, powered leather seats. There's enough room for 8 persons, however the 3rd row is best for those 5'6" or shorter. With the doors shut, the level of refinement suppresses as much of the noise of the outside world as it can. Combine that with meticulous attention to detail like the use of easy-on-the-eyes cream/beige for the fabrics and trimmings of deep rosewood lipped with chrome, or even the way little compartments open and close, and you'll realize that Lexus has spared no cost for their take on luxury. There's no question about quality either, as Lexus takes Toyota's reliability and takes the game further. In the 2009 J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey, the LX570 achieved the best over all score, even when compared to the meticulous German brands. But how is it as a drive?
Firing up the engine is easy via the starter button, and upon first prod of the throttle the near 3-tonner lunges forward with quite a bit of urgency. It's surprisingly light on its feet, and thanks to the active suspension system, the standard setting can be commanded to be either extra plush or a little sportier, depending on the driver's (or owner's) mood.
It has a great 4x4 system too, one that is actuated via some knob behind the shifter. The LX features full time 4WD with a torque sensing (TORSEN) limited slip center differential for maximum traction, and also has crawl control, hill-start assits and other functions. Armed with these, the LX570 joins the rank of the Range Rover for excellent off-road abilities and manners.
On the road, the six-speed automatic transmission is a breeze, channeling the brute force of the V-8 to deliver smooth acceleration. At full throttle, the LX can do a 0-100 km/h sprint in just 7.8 seconds with a nice note to match, and goes straight on through to an electronically limited top speed of 220 km/h. Surprisingly, it also returns decent fuel economy (5.1 km/l in the city and 7.7 km/l on the highway) for its displacement due perhaps to its use of a more sophisticated valvetrain with 32 valves and dual VVT-iE. And even with 5.7 liters of displacement, the V-8 follows stringent Euro-IV emission standards.
Any Lexus takes the hospitality of their fortunate, fortuned owners to the next level, and the LX570 is a shining example with an extensive list of toys and conveniences to play with. The comfort access key affords key-in-your-pocket operation. Bluetooth connectivity lends the assurance that the driver need not take a hand off the wheel to receive or make a call. Cornering lamps (AFS) illuminate in the direction the car is turning so that nothing is missed. The front seats and the 2nd row are power-adjustable while the tailgate is motorized. The 3rd row even tucks away with a push of a few buttons.
Mark Levinson, purveyor of crystal clear, premium entertainment, provides a supreme 19-speaker system with a rear DVD screen. Slot in a DVD and listen to the surround sound work its magic. The LX even lowers down 2 inches for easier entry and exit. Definitely a big plus for the wife... in a gown.
Nearly everything one can think of, or even the things one wouldn't normally think of, are automated or powered for the Lexus owner's convenience. Though there are some minor nuances though. There's no shift-on-the-fly for the 4x4 system. The illumination controls are on a column-mounted stalk that, incidentally, is still not as firm as the Germans. Same goes for the wiper stalk. The buttons are too soft to the touch to imply Germanic quality. Neither does it have a multi-media interface (similar to M-B's COMAND, BMW's iDrive, or Audi's MMI) to consolidate all the pertinent functions of the LX in one multi-directional hat or knob to prevent button overload. But that's nitpicking already.
At PhP7.2M, is the LX570 worth it? On paper, it's easy to dismiss as you can get an LC200 for nearly half the price. It's the intangibles that the Lexus LX570 works so very, very well. The refinement, the ride, the feeling of full hospitality and utmost luxury are hard to beat.
No matter what the terrain, the LX570 really makes you feel that you're truly riding in first class. At the end of the day, isn't that what you paid for?