2013 Lexus LX 570 Test Drive and Review: Jurassic Luxury – Forbes

14 Aug 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on 2013 Lexus LX 570 Test Drive and Review: Jurassic Luxury – Forbes
Lexus LX570

2013 Lexus LX 570 Test Drive and Review: Jurassic Luxury

It’s just a coincidence that they’re re-releasing Jurassic Park in 3D right now, just as I prepare to review the 2013 Lexus Lexus LX 570. Steven Spielberg ’s 1993 film was a tremendous smash back in the 1990s, spawning two sequels to date. Lexus’s LX was a big success, too, but the full size luxury SUV has become a bit of a dinosaur of late, mostly due to its unhealthy appetite for fossil fuels.

Now in its third generation, the LX returns with a revised exterior design, new flourishes on the interior, and a whole lot of attitude for 2013. With a base price of $80,930 ($88,775 as tested), a 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty and EPA fuel economy estimates of 12 mpg city/17 mpg highway, is the 2013 Lexus LX 570 still a force to be reckoned with, or is it on the road to extinction?

Photo (c) Lexus

The new LX benefits from a host of Lexus-wide design changes, the most noticeable of which is a new front fascia. The formerly gentle, rounded oblong grille opening has been sharpened into an angular feature called the “Lexus Spindle Grille,” which ties in with the fronts of the current ES, GS, RX and other Lexus models. Standard HID headlamps, LED daytime running lamps, a new bumper and larger fog lamp bezels all contribute to a more assertive, contemporary face.

Photo (c) Lexus

Around back, new LED taillamps and a revised bumper with a stainless steel accent strip add more crispness to the SUV. LX still has a great horizontally-split tailgate that opens like a clamshell. You can open the top half without opening the bottom, making for quick loading of groceries and smaller parcels.

All in all, LX’s new exterior makes a good argument for evolution. The gradual changes to the design seem to have responded to environmental forces and increased competition.

Aside from a few tasty upgrades, Lexus had the sense not to mess with LX’s interior. It’s hard to find a more straightforward dash layout. Buttons are smartly arrayed and sensibly labeled, and things make very good sense.

Material selections are Lexus smart — not over-the-top luxurious, like in a Land Rover, but still very nice and tasteful. Real wood trim hides under many layers of thick poly coating, but still looks real enough to justify its existence. The big color LCD touchscreen is placed at the top of the center stack, ideal placement, in my opinion.

A new thin film transistor (TFT) display compliments the LCD, bringing information to the center of the instrument panel above the steering wheel. There’s even a new ECO driving indicator .

Photo (c) Lexus

Technology is always a big part of the Lexus story, and LX is a large canvas for the company to display innovations. LX comes with a standard CD/DVD changer with AM/FM/HD/Satellite radio and digital sound processing. Also included is a one-year subscription to Lexus Enform, which is like having a concierge available at the touch of a button.

Hard disc-based navigation is also included, as is Bluetooth handsfree phone and audio streaming capability. Even better is the optional Mark Levinson Reference Surround Sound Audio System, which includes 19 speakers for 7.1 channel surround sound and a 450-watt amplifier with 0.1% total harmonic distortion (THD). A pre-collision system with adaptive cruise control is available, along with Intuitive Park Assist.

Lexus LX570

Luxury options can be heaped upon the already well-equipped LX. You can order ventilated front seats, a refrigerated box in the center console, a heated steering wheel and other luxuries. A very handy dual screen rear seat entertainment system puts the screens on the back of the front headrests, so they don’t interfere with the driver’s outward visibility, and they come with two wireless headphones, so that the insipid kids’ programs don’t interfere with the driver’s sanity.

LX shares a platform with Toyota’s very capable Land Cruiser. and in spite of the luxury appearance and features, LX is ready to rock when the roads get rough — or turn into rock-strewn trails. LX gets Multi-Terrain Select, which allows the driver to select from five different kinds of terrain to match throttle, engine and suspension settings to ground conditions.

LX’s independent front suspension features up to 9″ of articulation, while Lexus has retained the rugged solid rear axle construction for the rear. Many off-road traditionalists swear by solid axles as the most reliable setup for the heavy stuff. A TORSEN limited-slip differential handles the power distribution from front to rear.

LX takes a proven approach to off-road driving. Not as sophisticated as some of the other aspects of the vehicle, but taking advantage of the strengths of the chassis, suspension and powertrain.

Speaking of powertrains, LX retains the familiar 5.7-liter V8 engine that has lived under its hood since 2009. The big engine is rated to put out 383 hp and 403 lb-ft of torque, enough to make the 6,000 lb LX feel almost sprightly. Lexus claims a 0-60 speed of 7.5 seconds, and a 1/4-mile time of 15.7 seconds. Not that fast — until you consider how much mass is being propelled down the road.

Luckily, 13.4″ ventilated discs in the front and 13.6″ ventilated discs in the rear are on hand to haul this yacht down from speed. For such a big vehicle, LX is pleasantly sure-footed, with controlled body roll around curves and a nicely planted feel. It is possible to push this Lexus through the curves at a good clip without feeling like you’re pushing the limits.

I’m sure it’s also possible to push too hard, so discretion is necessary, but fun is still on the list of possibilities without tragedy intervening.

I have often sung the praises of big SUVs. When you need one, you need one, and every other vehicle is a compromise. LX remains among the best seven passenger luxury SUVs on the market. However — you knew there would be a however, didn’t you? — however, the question remains whether or not there are more responsible, more efficient ways to move seven people around in style.

With a 24.6 gallon fuel tank asking for 91-octane unleaded fuel, expect a maximum range of 418.2 miles between fill-ups. The best price for 91-octane unleaded in my area right now is $4.07. That’s a hundred bucks for a tankful, or 24 cents a mile in fuel costs alone, assuming that you’re using that ECO meter to its full advantage.


Not that there are a whole lot of more efficient choices out there in the large luxury SUV field. A Cadillac Escalade Hybrid is rated to achieve 20 mpg city/23 mpg highway. An Infiniti QX56 is rated at 14 mpg city/20 mpg highway. A Mercedes-Benz Mercedes-Benz GL450 claims 14 mpg city/19 mpg highway, and the diesel GL350 BlueTEC asserts a mark of 19 mpg city/26 highway. Land Rover’s only 7-seater, the LR4, returns a dismal 12 mpg/17 mpg highway.

Moving seven passengers with greater efficiency leads to the consideration of lesser (and smaller) vehicles, like the GMC Acadia Denali, or a minivan like the Toyota Sienna or Honda Odyssey. Yes, it may come to that.

If you want to retain a level of luxury along with your off-road capability, and you need the capacity that a full-size SUV offers, the Lexus LX remains a very strong choice. Science fiction may claim that the dinosaurs can be reanimated, but the real world shows that the dinosaurs of the vehicle world, once extinct, never roll out of factories again. The last of the body-on-frame full-size luxury SUVs are roaming the earth right now, soon to follow the body-on-frame sedans into the boneyards and tar pits of automotive history.

Lexus LX570
Lexus LX570
Lexus LX570
Lexus LX570
Lexus LX570
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