The Lap of Offroadable Luxury
Steve Schaefer, Tue, 18 Jun 2013 03:30:34 PDT
Based on the long-running and well regarded Toyota Land Cruiser, the Lexus LX570 full-size SUV offers great offroadability and superior luxury and comfort. And there's loads of power for not only carrying seven people in upscale accommodations but for towing a boat or trailer, too.
The mighty 5.7-liter V8 engine puts out a generous 383 horsepower and 403 lb.-ft. of torque. The six-speed automatic transmission handles this easily and silently, using high-tech electronics to select the appropriate gear ratio for speed and driving conditions.
The EPA rates the LX570 at 12 City, 17 Highway-average 14 mpg. I actually got 15.6 mpg, but that's still pretty low these days. The environmental scores are not available yet, but for large modern engines they generally run about average for Air Pollution and low for Greenhouse Gas. At least the LX570's 24.6-gallon tank can take you about 310 miles on a fill-up.
The LX 570's full-time four-wheel drive uses a TORSEN limited-slip locking center differential to distribute power 40:60 front-to-rear. It automatically sends more power to the wheels with the best grip. Four-wheel Active Traction Control (A-TRAC) uses both the brakes and the throttle to help control wheel spin. Additionally, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) helps maintain directional control during cornering; you can turn it off if you don't want its help.
There's more. The Crawl Control feature gives optimum throttle and brake modulation when you're driving slowly over rough and uneven surfaces. Turn Assist adds more brake force to the inside rear wheel to tighten the turning circle. Or, use the new Multi-terrain Select to choose from five preset types of terrain. Hill-start Assist Control (HAC) helps keep the LX570 from rolling back when you move your foot from the brake to the gas pedal on a steep incline or slippery surface.
The Active Height Control (AHC) system lets you lower the chassis by about two inches for easy entry and exit. It returns automatically to its normal height when the car begins to accelerate. An Easy Access mode lets you also lower the LX570 when it's parked. For improved aerodynamics, the AHC system lowers the vehicle at highway speeds. When you shift into low range, AHC raises the vehicle to provide additional ride height in driving situations where chassis clearance is at a premium. Fun in the drive-through lane, too.
That's all great, but most of us spend our time driving on the freeway and around town, and there's no problem there. The high driving position maintains the "king of the road" sensation desired by SUV owners and the thick insulation keeps out pesky noise. The interior is swathed in upscale fittings, leather, real wood, and offers every electronic entertainment feature you could dream of.
The optional dual-screen DVD entertainment system lets two rear passengers enjoy different programming, for example, watch a movie on one side and play video games on the other. Looking like the seat-mounted screens in a Virgin America jet, they should handle the kids on long trips.
The 2013 LX570 features the new spindle grille that is proliferating through the Lexus lineup. BMW and Mercedes-Benz have easily recognized fronts, and Lexus is trying to come up with its own. The tall grille, squeezed in the middle, is distinctive, but not subtle. This new styling direction could lay to rest the old complaint about the essentially perfect Lexus cars-that they're not exciting enough to look at.
There's so much to know about a premium vehicle these days. When I first climbed up and sat in the tall SUV, I was greeted by an audio narrative from the Lexus Insider feature. It encouraged me to explore Lexusdrivers.com as well. When you start the car, an image of the LX570's stylish new face appears in the instrument panel, flicks its lights, and yields to panels of information.
The beautiful half wood/half leather steering wheel in my Mercury Metallic tester was part of the $1,510 Luxury Package. It includes semi-aniline leather on the seats and doors, heated and ventilated seats (the second row seats are only heated), a cool box in the center console and real wood trim on the doors.
You can add even more options, including an intuitive parking system with cameras mounted in the grille and passenger-side outside mirror. It lets you view around the vehicle while parking-you wouldn't want to scrape one of the beautiful 20-inch split-spoke rims. The optional Mark Levinson audio system ($2,350) provides 19 speakers and the closest thing to a mobile concert hall you're likely to find.
My test car's base price was $80,930, and with options and delivery, it came to $88,670. That's a lot-but considering what the car offers, it's hard to argue that it's not worth it.