Road Tripping: The Lexus LX 570 proves supremely comfortable
The new Lexus LX 570 presents best-in-class reliability, a sophisticated cabin and prodigious off-road capability.
Photos courtesy of Lexus
MENA, Ark—Sure, it’s a gas-guzzling dinosaur, but there isn’t a better vehicle for a long road trip than the Lexus LX 570.
Big, brawny, and refined, Lexus’ truck-like, eight-seat SUV is perfect for carrying the Sunday school class to lunch, pulling a horse trailer to West Texas, or taking a journey to the ends of the earth.
For around $92,00 to $100,000, the biggest Lexus you can buy comes with best-in-class reliability, a sophisticated cabin and prodigious off-road capability. The LX 570 inspires confidence and sets in motion quests for adventure.
I once drove one of these down a gravel and rock-covered ski mountain in Montana. One misstep, and the back end would have come around. We would have tumbled down that slope in a high-speed barrel role, tossing journalists, engineers, laptops and unmentionables like a whacked piata used for a strafing mission.
But that didn’t happen. Instead, the LX 570’s crawl mode and vehicle stability controls kept the truck on a placid, even keel. I didn’t have to touch the pedals, just steer the thing where we wanted to go, and that’s where it went. Halfway down, I allowed myself to breathe again.
Less stressful was the journey to the top of the summit. We followed a path blazed, no doubt, by mountain goats, a winding circuit along cliff edges, across rocky streams and over giant boulders. With adjustable terrain and height settings, the big Lexus turned all that into just another drive down the parkway.
I found myself toying with the optional, 19-speaker, 450-watt Mark Levinson Surround Sound audio system. That immediately drew howls from the rear passengers, something about watching where I was going.
Backseat drivers. Whatever happened to the magic of music, to joie de vivre?
Alas, there would be no such derring-do on my most recent journey in an LX 570. I was accompanied on a third honeymoon to the rolling hills of western Arkansas by Beautiful Blonde Bride, who tolerates swashbuckling only to the point it threatens her sense of serenity or physical safety.
She communicates this setting of limits with a warning glare, one I experienced several times as we hiked a lovely trail along the uppermost ridges of Winding Stair Mountain, a U.S. National Recreation Area hard along the Talimena Scenic Byway, some 132 miles north of Texarkana.
In the first weekend of October, fall was just taking her first breaths. A refreshing breeze floated through the forest, itself dotted with first awakenings of brilliant reds, yellows and oranges soon to follow. Had I known a storm would postpone Florida-LSU—apparently the gentlemen from Baton Rouge feared mud might mar their petticoats—I might have postponed the sojourn. A spectacular mountain fall is in the making.
Yes, it was a wonderful afternoon, but head down one unmarked trail, discover a pile or two of bear scat, and—poof—there goes the mood. Chercher la petite bte. Some people focus too much on the little things. In time, we emerged from the woods within a stone’s throw of the trail head and our luxurious machine. Ha!
Our feet aching, legs sore, bellies hungry and, perchance, one’s faith renewed in the male partner’s navigational skills, we joyfully climbed into the comforting embrace of the LX 570. The cabin feels as if the living room has joined the journey with rich wood and leather throughout and seats that are all-day comfortable.
Both the front-row and middle seats are heated and ventilated. A center console cool box kept several soft drinks and water bottles cold, forcing cool air into the compartment when the air conditioner was on. After hours of outrunning bears, you can imagine how good it felt to plop down in those seats and break out a cold drink.
State-of-art safety gear is a given in a Lexus. With the LX 570, room for eight comes with safety for eight. Besides being taller and more massive than just about every non-commercial vehicle on the highway, the LX 570 comes with 10 standard airbags and a wide array of driver-assist technologies to help the driver to avoid hazards. Standard is the Lexus Safety System, which combines a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert, Intelligent High Beams and All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control.
The cruise control will keep you a safe distance behind, come to a complete stop if needed, and start up again with a tap of the lever.
Visibility is excellent, but Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert is handy. The LX 570 puts information directly in line of sight with a Heads-up Display that shows information such as vehicle speed, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, warnings, information icons, compass heading, and other safety warnings.
A push of a button on the dash activates a panoramic view camera, which makes it easy to see how the vehicle is aligned in a parking space, maneuver in cramped quarters, and see better when off-roading.
The LX 570 is powered by a 5.7-liter V8 engine that produces 383 horsepower and delivers 90-percent of its 403 lb.-ft. peak torque at just 3,600 rpm. New for 2016 is an eight-speed transmission.
The LX 570 is tow-rated at 7,000 lbs., light for the class. The 2017 Cadillac Escalade, for example, will pull 7,900 to 8,100 lbs., depending on equipment. A Yukon Denali can pull up to 8,400 pounds and a Land Rover Range Rover 7,716.
That’s one reason the LX 570 is not rated best in class. The other is fuel economy. The EPA estimates it will attain 13 mpg in town, 18 on the highway. The latter, we discovered, is only possible at something less than 55 mph, a highway speed common in western Arkansas, but nowhere in Texas.
That gives the LX 570 a range of 340 miles, more or less. Its rivals at General Motors, rated at 16 mpg city, 23 highway, can easily hit 500 miles on a tank of gas. That’s a big shortcoming for a road car.
Toyota uses this same engine in its full size pickups. It’s a beast and it lasts longer than a chicken fight on Family Guy, but these guys need to do something about fuel economy.
Bottom Line: If you want a big luxury SUV that will last and hold its value, it’s hard to beat Lexus LX 570.