Quickie Review: LeXcess 570 (Lexus LX570)

In this corner, weighing in at just under six thousand pounds and measuring a commanding five metres in length; the cruiser, the bruiser, the Lexus L-X fiiiiiive-seventy!

 

Such dimensions could nearly be used to describe a UFC fighter but instead describe Lexus’ most capable off-roader ever. And that’s about the same introduction that will be running through people’s minds when you arrive in this thing. Because you don’t just show up, you really do arrive. This is a vehicle to make a statement; much in the way a Hummer makes a statement. Not to discredit the LX570’s phenomenal off-road credentials, but people will really be buying this for the number of seats (8!), the toys inside, and the sheer audacity of it. When asked if they’d like to go chew up some mountain trails on the weekend, no one says “Count me in! I’ll bring my new Lex “. That’s actually what Jeep was invented for. Oh, and Hummer too. Only in the perverted minds of the Lexus marketing team would a customer actually say that.

Excessive is the only way to describe Lexus’ new behemoth, Toyota Land Cruiser-based SUV. It. Is. Large. But so is the Land Cruiser on which it is based. The difference is that Canadians don’t have a choice because the Toyota isn’t sold in our market. Using the same 5.7L V8 from the Toyota Tundra and putting out 383 horsepower and 403 torques, The LX570 still meets California’s strict Tier 2 Bin 5 emissions standards.

The LX employs some of the most advanced off-roading technologies ever seen including Crawl Control, Full-Time 4WD, Vehicle Stability Control, Active Traction Control, Hill-start Assist Control, Downhill Assist Control, and Engine & Transfer Case Protector Plates. But will anyone use these? Or are they about as useful as the “Cool Box” in the centre console that keeps your ice cubes for your scotch just right?

Contradicting the rough and tumble image with the Lexus image is the laundry list of gadgets inside. Rear Seat DVD Entertainment System, Audio and DVD Remote Control, In Dash 6-Disc DVD/CD Auto-Changer, Powered Flip-up/Flip-Down 9-inch LCD Rear Monitor, 19 Speaker 450-watt Mark Levinson Reference Surround Sound Audio System with Hard Disk Drive, Power Rear Door with Jam Protection, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Front Console Cool Box, Smart Card Key, Intuitive Parking Assist, Wide-view Front and Side Monitor System, Illuminated “Lexus” Scuff Plates, Pre Collision System, Heated and Air Conditioned Front Seats, and Heated Middle Row Outboard Seats. Yikes. One could argue that maybe the LX570 isn’t a contradiction, maybe it’s the best of both worlds? That would be a valid argument if anyone would off-road with it. But they won’t. So it isn’t. That just leaves a great hulking SUV with a lot of seats, more tech, and even more buttons.

The previous analogy to the Hummer H2 was apt because not only are they both huge, but also because the LX570 makes the H2 look like it isn’t so bad on fuel after all. 15mpg? Maybe if you feather the gas pedal. One massive advantage that the LX does have, however, is that no one will egg your vehicle and flip you the bird every time you go to get milk from the IGA. Things that can’t be guaranteed when cruising around in the Hummer. So there’s something to be said for Lexus/Toyota’s “green” credentials after all, even if they’re shredded to bits here.

The sense of occasion continues once inside the cabin. The quality of the cabin is, as one would expect in a vehicle costing on the wrong side of $100,000, very good. The materials used are of high quality and the dash and buttons all have a very solid feel. It’s a good thing that the buttons are so nice to touch because there are approximately eleventy billion of them cluttering every square inch of the cabin. There are so many that I think some of them are just for decoration because there’s no way they can all have an effect on this 3 tonne beast.

The 5.7L engine is quite powerful and the standard 6-speed transmission does a good job of keeping the revs down so the fuel economy stays out of the single digits. Unfortunately, the transmission isn’t particularly eager to kick down as it wants to keep revs low all the time. But it’s good that the engine and transmission are such a powerful combination because they have a lot of mass to motivate.

I’m saving the best for last: the sound system. My God what a treat. I’d swear that Yamaha had something to do with it because it was just as impressive as the IS-F engine note. Believe it. I actually thought that I was in a Lil’ Wayne concert! Thank you Mark Levinson and your 19 speaker orchestra.

So I’m kind of confused as to what to make of the new Lexus LX570. It’s very luxurious, but not much to look at. It’s a competent off-roader, but no one will ever use it so it just adds even more weight. The engine is great, but the transmission prevents it from shining. It doesn’t really sit 8 people very well, maybe 6 at most.

So why would I get one of these when the RX350 sits only one person less, doesn’t drink premium for a living, and costs half as much?

I guess it’s for those who just have to make a statement, but it’s just not a statement that I would want to make in 2008.

Price as tested: $101,000
Summary: What was the point of it again?

Exterior Design: 2/10. Bloated and boring.
Interior Design: 5/10. Plush, but cluttered.
Engine: 7/10. Strong, especially compared to previous gen LX470.
Transmission: 5/10. Somewhat reluctant to kick down, jerky in Sport Mode.
Audio/Video: 10/10. Your ears won’t know what hit them.
Value: 3/10. Pricey, especially considering that most of the options are must-haves for the intended market (if they actually exist).
Overall (not an average): 4/10. Commanding presence. Phenomenal sound system. No point.

Special thanks to Bruce Kirkland and Lexus of Edmonton.

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