I'll say from the get go that no other car has given me more conflicted feelings than the Lexus LX570. There are a lot of things that need work, but there are things that are simply endearing about it. Ever since I drove this gargantuan Lexus, I've been trying to answer the question: is there more to the LX570 than the Lexus badge?
See, the Toyota Land Cruiser, the 'lesser-priced' version of the Lexus, already has a lot to offer. It's big, imposing, lined in leather, can go just about everywhere, has a reputation built on bulletproof reliability, and has a whole lot of presence. If there's something to complain about in the Land Cruiser, that's the touchscreen audio screen, and the fact that it's not exactly fully loaded, even with 'full options'.
But back to the Lexus. The LX570 is, essentially, an even plusher, more comfortable, more-of-everything version of the Land Cruiser. It's also nearly twice the price of the top of the line Land Cruiser too. I can hear you say “It better be worth it”. I had that same sentiment too when I got the keys for it.
It's certainly got presence with that huge grill with a sizable Lexus badge to go along with it. Say what you want about Lexus' grill designs but it really is attention grabbing. One look at the front and it commands respect, even if you cover the badge. It's brash and in your face, but it's not too overdone, at least in my eyes. Yes, the Land Cruiser genes are evident, but the changes to the front end are done in a way that's befitting of a luxury brand. Does it blend into the background? It sure does...if you live in one of Manila's finest gated communities.
More of those Land Cruiser genes are evident on the side. In fact, only the front and rear have been changed for the exterior. The doors on the Lexus are the same as the Toyota's, and it's like that too for the windows, sans the rear. Much like the front, the rear of the LX570 gets its own unique treatment, incorporating design cues from the marque by giving it L-shaped tail lights. Well, they call the design language L-Finesse after all.
All in all then it's a Land Cruiser with a bit more pomp. It has come a long way from the first-generation LX, which was literally a rebadged Toyota with extra helpings of leather and wood inside for good measure. If there was one thing I'd like to add to the LX570, it would be the 22-inch alloys as the standard 18-inch wheels just seem to small for a car this big.
Speaking of the inside, Lexus went to great lengths to differentiate it from the Toyota. Whereas the Land Cruiser's cabin has a vertical theme, the Lexus is the exact opposite. Horizontal lines are strewn all over the LX. Even the door panels are different, swapping out the chunky, utilitarian look of its lesser-priced counterpart with flowing, elegant lines. High seating position aside, you feel like you're in a luxury sedan than gussied up truck.
Lexus prides themselves on build quality and the fit and finish in the LX570 is no exception. Tight panel gaps, consistent alignment, top-notch materials and solid feel are evident when you poke around the cavernous cabin. Just about everything you'll end up twisting, turning, and pressing on a regular basis feels good to touch. However, I did notice some blank switches inside, which isn't exactly befitting of a flagship model. And while just about everything you touch feels good, the lower part of the dash isn't quite up to expectations.
Space? There's a relative abundance of it although I was expecting more headroom out of it. Still leg, hip, and shoulder room are nothing to complain about at all. Even third-row space isn't so bad either. You can slide the second-row to gain a few more inches of wiggle room, but if you want to stretch out even in the rearmost seats, then you'd need a bigger car.
Just about every feature you expect in a car the price of a house is standard in the LX570. It's got power seats with memory, heated and cooled seats, and an advanced, if complicated to use, infotainment system. Over at the back, it's got an entertainment system and individual climate controls. As one would expect in a luxury car, it's got a top-shelf audio system. In the case of Lexus, it's by long-time brand collaborator Mark Levinson. It even has something called Climate Concierge which, I will admit, have no idea what it does.
But for me, the most useful feature they made standard in the LX570 is the mini-fridge. Okay, so it's not exactly a refrigerator but more of a cooled storage box. Still, it's very effective in chilling drinks and I found myself using it quite a lot.
Now, for the powerplant under the hood. It's a 5.7-liter V8. It's not turbocharged so you get nearly six liters of naturally-aspirated goodness if that's your thing. You get 366 PS and 530 Nm of torque, which is more than enough to pull over 2,700 kilograms of steel, wood, electric motors (for the tailgate and seats) and leather.
Is it fast? Well, depends on your perspective. If you think you can outdrag something like a Civic Type R with it, you'll be disappointed. It does weigh a hair over three tons and even with that much power, it's not as fast as you might expect. But if you have the mindset that you're lugging around all that weight, then this Lexus sure can sprint. Again, it's no sports car but it's quite an unusual (and amusing) experience to reach highway speeds in a relatively quick time in such a massive vehicle. Let me tell you, that novelty doesn't wear off.
However, here's the thing about the LX570 that might somewhat dampen your spirits. It actually doesn't feel all that great to drive. The steering, for instance, is weighted, which is a good thing in an age of electronic power assists. What isn't so great is the effort at low speeds. Perhaps we're just spoiled at big cars having much lighter steering these days (ex. Ford Expedition), but it might come as a shock if you take the wheel for the first time.
And we're not going to dig in too much in the subject of handling because, well, it is a three-ton 4x4 with zero sporting intentions. Yes, there's a sport mode but it's irrelevant with something like this. It can corner without tipping over, it can tackle winding roads, but it won't enjoy doing such things. If you're a driving enthusiast, don't expect much in the way of dynamics.
But the LX570 isn't about sharp dynamics and cornering; it's all about wafting and breezing down the highway or being coddled in leather while sitting in traffic. That's where this mammoth of an SUV shines. Set it in comfort mode and it's a serene, relaxing experience when you're on the expressway. It's also one of the quietest cruisers I've also had the pleasure of driving as well. I say Lexus should just get rid of the sport mode in the next-gen model because it's such a fantastic and effective long-haul mile-muncher. Having a gas-powered engine does wonders in keeping the cabin hushed too. It's only when you press the accelerator at about halfway through do you hear that V8 bellow. Even then, it's a muted thrum. Even with V8 power under the hood, I didn't feel the urge to really step on it; it's that good of a cruiser. It's like you just want to spend even more time in it.
Which is why you won't mind sitting in traffic inside one for a long time, unless you're looking at your average fuel economy. This perhaps has the lowest figure for fuel economy I've seen ever. In gridlock traffic, the LX570 registered a miserable 2.2 kilometers per liter at an equally miserable average pace of 11 km/h. Well, I wasn't expecting a fuel-sipper out of that 5.7-liter V8. In slightly more acceptable traffic, it improves to 4.8 kilometers per liter which actually isn't half bad for something like this. I mean, remember back in the day when anything over 2.0-liters drank that much fuel in traffic?
As for highway fuel consumption, it gets bumped up to 8.7 kilometers per liter with a fair amount of overtaking. Out of curiosity though, I tried to eke out the best possible fuel economy out of it. Setting the cruise control at 60 km/h along NAIAX and putting it in Eco mode, the trip computer registered 15.0 kilometers per liter. Speaking of cruise control, I do wish the LX570 had something like Toyota Safety Sense fitted to it, which is befitting of its long-distance cruising capabilities.
This is why I'm torn about the LX570. There is a fair amount of things that aren't so good about it, namely headroom, handling, weight of the steering, dynamics, the safety equipment list, and fuel economy. But strangely enough, it's endearing and it gets under your skin because it's just so comfortable in there. Maybe if they added seats with massage functions, you'd probably not want to leave this SUV at all.
But then there's the price, which is another thing that leaves me torn. When you compare it to other similarly sized SUVs, then the Php 8,718,000 price tag is astronomical. Why get this over a Land Cruiser which is close to Php 5,000,000? I've said it before and I'll say it again: a luxury car is an emotional purchase. On the flipside however, it's a bargain when you compare it to other megabuck SUVs. Now, hear me out here but when you're shopping for, say, a Range Rover Autobiography, Mercedes-Benz GLS, or BMW X7, then the sub ten-million peso price tag makes it good value...if you have a net worth of about a billion pesos.
What you're getting is the best of what Lexus has to offer in the realm of SUVs. You can get all this comfort, a reputation of off-road capability (which I didn't dare try, I admit) and reliability, and the general feeling of solidity inside. With that, I may have found the point and purpose of the LX570.
If you're lucky enough to have earned so much in your life and want to graduate from a Land Cruiser or own a different luxury SUV you're now finding a bit too small, the LX570 is one you could shortlist.