The 2019 Lexus LX 570 is kind of an odd proposition for buyers, even in today's SUV-crazy market. It checks some of the right boxes: big power, tons of amenities, plenty of room for passengers. It even impresses with surprisingly capable off-road ability.
But taken as a whole, the LX 570 is a tough sell against more well-rounded, modern competition. There are some bright spots to the LX package, to be sure. But more than anything, Lexus' big LX is really showing its age.
Good power, bad poise
Walking out to the garage in the morning, the first thing that strikes you about the LX 570 is just how damned big it seems, with that huge, imposing (and not very good-looking) spindle grille. In reality, though, the LX isn't any bigger than its full-size SUV rivals. It's is a little under 16.5 feet long, t's just a hair over 6 feet tall in its normal ride height mode and 6.4 feet wide. The LX 570 is, as the internet would say, "chonky."
A big SUV needs a big engine, and Lexus only offers one option: Toyota's venerable 5.7-liter V8. It's mechanically robust, and makes sufficient power and torque, despite any turbocharged or supercharged assist. With 383 horsepower and 403 pound-feet of torque on offer, the LX 570 is actually a bit more powerful than the Toyota Land Cruiser on which it's based.
This ancient engine is mated to a relatively modern transmission: an eight-speed automatic, complete with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters -- kind of hilarious in this big SUV. This transmission isn't exactly the last word in sophistication, with laggy, lazy shifts. But it works quietly and competently in the background most of the time, and really, that's all you can ask for.
The eight-speed also helps to curb the big LX's seemingly insatiable thirst for premium fuel. The EPA rates it at 13 miles per gallon in the city, 18 on the highway and 15 mpg combined. During my testing, which included a trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco and back, I never got close to that 18-mpg mark, only seeing about 16.5 mpg. But hey, it's better than what I would've achieved if the LX had its older, six-speed automatic. Progress!
Unlike its Land Cruiser sibling, the LX 570 comes standard with a height-adjustable air suspension at all four corners (this is optional on the Toyota). This means the tall LX can hunker down for easier ingress and egress, as well as for loading cargo. The suspension also helps with towing, automatically leveling the SUV when weight is placed on the hitch. It'll tow as much as 7,000 pounds, too, which is plenty for an average-size boat or camper.
Ride quality is excellent in normal and comfort modes, though when it comes to handling, the LX570 isn't the sharpest thing in its class. It's a lumbering, body-on-frame SUV, with no sophisticated chassis tech like what's found in the Cadillac Escalade or Lincoln Navigator. The steering is light and vague, another trait of the LX's older underpinnings. If you're looking for something solid and stable to drive, one of the Lexus' more modern competitors is probably for you.
That said, where the LX really shines is off-road. Features like a locking center Torsen differential, Toyota's Crawl Control and multi-terrain selectable traction control take a ton of guesswork out of piloting something so massive off the tarmac. Compared to the Land Cruiser, the LX suffers in terms of approach and departure angles thanks to the more aggressive, Lexus-specific body work. Its 20-inch wheels and low-profile tires aren't ideal, either, the Land Cruiser's more reasonable 18-inch wheels are more fit to purpose.
Lexus comfort, but seriously small inside
The interior of the LX570 is a really nice place to spend time. The materials are all typical Lexus, which is to say the leather is buttery soft, the switchgear feels solid, and everything looks like it belongs in a car that costs $85,000 before options. The front seats are multi-way power adjustable and, in my somewhat modestly equipped test vehicle, heated but not cooled.
At 6 feet, 4 inches tall, I could use a little more headroom up front, but I don't lack for room anywhere else. The second-row seats have power sliding functionality and have adjustable backrests. They're extremely comfortable, as well, though surprisingly difficult to fold forward for more cargo space.
This two-row LX 570 -- a new seating configuration introduced for 2018 -- has 34.6 cubic feet of space with the second row in place. After struggling to get 'em folded, you'll find 50.5 cubic feet of space, which pales in comparison to everything else in this class. Fold all three rows of seats in a Lincoln Navigator and you'll have 103 cubic feet of space. That's right, double the space of the LX 570.
My test vehicle has the five-passenger seating configuration, but for an extra $5,000 you can get a third row of seats that fold up and to the sides -- reducing cargo capacity even further. Other interior options are limited but include an insulated front center console bin, a heated wood and leather steering wheel and a luxury package which adds ventilation to the aforementioned heated seats.
Lexus tends to lag behind the competition in terms of infotainment offerings, and that remains true here in the LX. You get a huge, 12.3-inch display for the Enform infotainment, but the screen isn't touch-responsive. Instead, you get to use Lexus' truly awful Remote Touch joystick on the shifter. Want Apple CarPlay or Android Auto? Neither are available.
That said, the LX is quite plentifully packed with driver's aids. Pre-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and automatic high-beams all come standard as part of Lexus' Safety System+ suite.
How I'd spec it
I'd spec my LX as the base, $85,830 (not including $1,295 for destination) two-row model, and add the $1,190 Luxury Package, which adds seat ventilation for the first and second rows as well as upgraded leather. I'd also add the $150 heated steering wheel option because that wood wheel will get cold quick. I'd leave the only other option -- $745, 21-inch wheels -- off the spec sheet. This represents only a $1,340 increase in price over my totally option-less tester. That's another nice thing about the LX: damn near everything is standard.
However, in the end, it's hard to recommend the LX 570. As a proper luxury SUV, it falls behind the class in a number of important areas, mostly because it's just, well, old. That isn't to say that it's a bad vehicle -- it's certainly enjoyable, and kind of ruggedly charming. But considering the LX 570 essentially the same price as the Land Cruiser on which it's based and Toyota's variant is better at doing all the off-road stuff that sets the LX apart from its competition, the argument only gets weaker.
The slow-selling LX is the same as it ever was. Big, bulky and archaically charming, but several steps behind its more modern competition.