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Lexus LX570 2020 review: off-road test

Those who can afford to own a large premium SUV are well accustomed to travelling in style and supreme comfort. It’s a select mob of folks who demand the absolute best – or at the very least an elegant approximation of the absolute best. 

The Lexus LX570, the brand’s flagship SUV, is a fine example of something one of my over-achieving mates might own. It’s a big brute of a luxury 4WD, but is it actually any good as a daily driver, or is it all flash with minimal real-world function? Read on.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

Our LX 570, with eight-seat capacity (over three rows), starts from $143,831 plus on-road costs. 

The standard features list is as long as something that’s very long so, instead of me rattling off everything included in this Lexus, I want you to imagine the well-equipped interior of a space shuttle, but a posh space shuttle … that you can drive. 

A few of the more noteworthy inclusions in the LX570 are leather all over the shop, a 12.3-inch tablet-style multimedia screen, a colour head-up display, a centre console cooler box, power rear seats, and driver-assist tech such as height-adjustable air suspension, lane change warning, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist and more.

The 12.3-inch multimedia tablet-style screen dominates the dash and it’s easy to read. The 12.3-inch multimedia tablet-style screen dominates the dash and it’s easy to read.

The LX570 is full-time 4WD, with high- and low-range gearing, and has a five-setting multi-terrain select system, as well as a centre diff lock.

Our test vehicle had the $18,000 Enhancement Pack option, which includes 21-inch alloy wheels, heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated second-row outboard seats, ventilated front seats, and semi-aniline leather trim. It also had a towbar kit, which is an additional $273. So, all up, our tester costs $162,104.

The LX570 does feel a bit firm over minor imperfections because of the low-profile tyres. The LX570 does feel a bit firm over minor imperfections because of the low-profile tyres.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

It's a big SUV, full of bluster and presence. 

The grille’s in-your-face appearance kept niggling at me until I realised why: it looks remarkably like the helmet front of robo-soldiers called Cylons in a cheesy 1980s sci-fi TV show titled Battlestar Galactica. (Check out the accompanying screenshot and tell me I’m wrong.) I was a big fan of that show when I was a kid and perhaps that’s why I’m kind of fond of the LX570’s look.

  • The grille looks remarkably like the helmet front of robo-soldiers called Cylons in the '80s  TV show, Battlestar Galactica. The grille looks remarkably like the helmet front of robo-soldiers called Cylons in the '80s TV show, Battlestar Galactica.
  • The grille looks remarkably like the helmet front of robo-soldiers called Cylons in the '80s  TV show, Battlestar Galactica. The grille looks remarkably like the helmet front of robo-soldiers called Cylons in the '80s TV show, Battlestar Galactica.

As for the rest of its exterior, it’s all a suitably SUV-style appearance – plenty of healthy chunk everywhere – but dressed up in a mildly exciting way.

The interior is cavernous and luxurious and has seemingly been styled as a nod to 1970s gangster movies – in a good way. I’m talking generous portions of woodgrain, as well as machine-stitched leather-accented seats, and soft-touch everything. In here, you can practically see and smell wafting cigar smoke and hear massive deals being made as ice clinks in glasses and 50-year-old double-matured whisky is savoured.

Posh.

The interior is cavernous and luxurious. The interior is cavernous and luxurious.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

The LX570 has a 5.7-litre V8 petrol engine – producing 270kW at 5600rpm and 530Nm at 3200rpm – and that’s matched to a very smooth eight-speed automatic transmission.

The engine needs to be gutsy because the LX 570’s kerb weight is listed as 2740kg, so it’s not an insignificant vehicle to get moving.

The 5.7-litre V8 petrol engine punches out 270kW/530Nm. The 5.7-litre V8 petrol engine punches out 270kW/530Nm.

The LX570 is full-time 4WD, with high- and low-range gearing, drive modes (Normal/Customise, Eco, Comfort, SportS/SportS+), a five-setting multi-terrain select system (with Loose Rock, Mud & Sand, Mogul, Rock & Dirt, Rock), off-road Crawl Control (like low-speed 4WD cruise control), as well as a centre diff lock.

It even has paddle shifters on the steering wheel if you get the urge to use them.

How practical is the space inside?

As mentioned earlier, the interior is a cavernous space and there are numerous storage spots throughout the cabin and we made good use of them – except I kept putting my keys and pocket rubbish in the wireless charging tray, instead of what should actually have been placed there: a Qi-compatible smartphone.

The 12.3-inch multimedia tablet-style screen dominates the dash and it’s easy to read and sometimes easy to operate – I say “sometimes” because the fiddly toggle on the multi-media remote control (down by the auto shifter) is bloody annoying. It seems to have a mind of its own when you try to use it to select options on the screen – it remained mostly over-sensitive to my attempts to ‘steer’ it and would move past my actual intended selection until I was able to coerce it back to my choice. Maybe you’ll have more luck. I doubt it.

There’s also a 4.2-inch colour multi-information display in front of the driver.

The cooler box centre console adds another welcome element of versatility to the cabin. Cold drinks, anyone?

All perforated leather-accented and machine-stitched seats are very comfortable and will make anyone feel like royalty – or at the very least like a Z-grade celebrity.

Second-row passengers get media screens (on the seatbacks in front of them) plus directional vents in the ceiling and rear of the centre console, as well as volume controls, headphone sockets, a HDMI socket and a 12V socket.

The third row gets directional vents, and two cupholders each. The seating is a bit squeezy back there, but it’s not terrible.

Everyone gets grab handles.

  • When the third row is in use, boot space is rated at 259 litres. When the third row is in use, boot space is rated at 259 litres.
  • With all the seats folded away cargo capacity grows to 1267 litres. With all the seats folded away cargo capacity grows to 1267 litres.

When the third row is in use, luggage capacity is a claimed 259 litres. When the third-row seats are folded away to the side – an easy button-push operation – there is 701 litres.

When the second-row seats are folded forward to make room for more luggage – a claimed 1267 litres of it – they still bulge into the cargo area and also press on the headrest-mounted 11.6-inch media screens. 

What's it like as a daily driver?

The solid grab handles make it easy to get in and out of the LX570, without having to tumble-roll, stuntman-style anywhere. 

You’d assume that such a big SUV would be a tad awkward to steer around in the city and suburbia. Afterall, it is 5080mm long, 1980mm wide and 1865mm high, and it does tip the scales at only a few kegs shy of three tonnes, but it’s easy enough to manoeuvre through clogged city streets and bustling towns.

It’s roomy inside – with very plush and comfortable seats – so it’s very easy to cope with the prospect of long road trips in this, or even stop-start around-town drives.

Steering is light but precise and the helm is tilt- and telescopic-adjustable, which is nice. The front seats also remember your favourite position, but I like to change that often to keep the electronics guessing.

The big V8 loves it when you put the foot down to escape the city and get out onto the highway and it moves the 2.7 tonne 4WD along nicely, if not in an over-enthusiastic manner.

There’s good consistent acceleration, but it’s gradual rather than fast, not surprising considering its considerable mass. 

But, there’s ample power on tap and the eight-speed auto consistently helps to harness and deliver that smoothly.

The exterior is all suitably SUV-styled. The exterior is all suitably SUV-styled.

And, once you’re up to speed, overtaking is supremely easy, and the LX570’s ability to power up hills is very impressive.

The colour heads-up display brings to three the number of ways you’re able to monitor your speed: analogue, digital and heads-up. Everyone's speed-monitoring co-driver will love that.

It does tend to wallow, and, at times, the LX570’s weight and size affect ride and handling enough to more than gently remind you of the 4WD’s bulk, and it tends to understeer substantially, but switching out of Normal, Eco or Comfort drive modes, will go some way to nullifying those characteristics.

And, all the while, the LX570 simply rumbles along the road.

It does feel a bit firm over even minor imperfections in the road, but some of that could be attributed to the fact it rides on low-profile Dunlop GrandTrek PT3A tyres (275/50 R21), which are better suited to smooth highways than chopped-up back roads.

And did I mention that it’s quiet, oh so quiet, inside?

What's it like for touring?

It may look like merely a glammified SUV, but it’s just as good off-road as it is on, if not better, because underneath all of that Lexus showiness is a heavy-duty 4WD, a 200 Series LandCruiser-based off-roader.

On the way to one of our favourite off-roading spots, the LX570’s coil-spring suspension yielded a mostly plush ride over coarse suburban and country roads, then dirt and gravel tracks, though that big-wheel-and-tyre combination is a conduit for skips and jitters while traversing irregular surfaces.

It has a full complement of off-roading mechanicals and tech from which to draw, including full-time 4WD, dual-range transfer case, and lockable centre diff through to its multi-terrain select system (with mud and sand, loose rock, mogul, rock and dirt, and rock modes), and Crawl Control (which acts as a low-speed cruise control). 

The multi-terrain monitor is also a handy off-roading tool, if only I could figure out how to get it working properly. It operates off four cameras at the LX570’s front, sides and rear to present a near-360-degree view of the terrain around and under the vehicle when it’s in low-range 4WD (L4) off-road mode. The driver is able to switch between views but, as well as having trouble getting it to work for me, I reckon – and I’ve said it many times before – that hi-tech is all well and good, but nothing is more effective in a 4WDing situation than sticking your head out the window or, even better, actually getting out of the vehicle and walking a hill, track or water crossing before taking it on. 

Low-range gearing is more than adequate for serious hill-climbs, as is the LX570’s engine-braking and hill descent control for the way back down. With L4 engaged, Rock mode enabled and the centre diff locked, we drove up a very steep rocky hill – so steep all we could see to the front of us was overcast sky and the very tops of the trees at the crest of the hill, and the onscreen tilt gauge’s 30-degree incline had been surpassed – and the only factors actually hampering our forward progress were the LX570’s road-biased tyres. The rubber merely slipped and scrambled for traction up the gravelly hill.

The LX570 is very capable off-road. The LX570 is very capable off-road.

For something so gargantuan, the LX570 manages to be sort of nimble on tighter bush tracks, although some onboard tech trickery helps at times. For instance, when you engage Crawl Control, you also have access to turn-assist, which aggressively brakes, for example, the rear left wheel if you’re turning left to tighten the arc of your turn during a very low-speed manoeuvre. It’s a real benefit when you’re navigating pinchy turns on narrow tracks lined with trees.

In off-road-specific measurement terms, this 4WD has a claimed 225mm of running (ground) clearance, and approach, ramp break-over and departure angles of 25, 23 and 20 degrees respectively.

The bonus here is that the LX570 has adjustable air suspension which can be set at normal (road-driving height), low (for ease of ingress and egress), or high (which will give you some more leeway in terms of avoiding panel damage on tricky off-road sections). Wading depth is a claimed 700mm and for a few seconds I entertained the notion of pitching the LX570 into a SUV-swallowing mud-hole to see how it’d do – but commonsense prevailed.

The LX570 is very capable off-road, with its only real limitations being its 21-inch tyres and a driver’s reluctance to risk any damage to this more-than $140,000 vehicle. 

It has a GVM of 3350kg. Towing capacity is Iisted as 750kg (unbraked) and 3500kg (braked).

How much fuel does it consume?

It has a claimed fuel consumption of 14.4L/100km (combined). We averaged 19.4L/100km over more than 200km, but that was with minimal load onboard and rather conservative on-road driving.

It has a 93L main tank and a 45L sub tank, for a total 138-litre fuel capacity.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

The Lexus warranty is four years or 100,000km, whichever comes first.

Capped-price servicing is offered on all new Lexus deliveries from January 1, 2020 and each service can be undertaken over three years for the same price at any dealership nationwide.

For the Lexus LX, each of the first six six-month/10,000km standard logbook services – “required due to the LX’s additional componentry and heavy-duty usage”, according to Lexus – costs $495.

The Lexus LX570 is a very comfortable people-mover, plush, smooth and responsive. It’s very roomy, and it looks and feels luxurious. 

Driving it on-road and riding in it are far from unpleasant experiences. It’s also very effective off-road, though you have to drive well within its limits to avoid any potential damage.

It’s big and pricey and filling up that tank is a rather costly exercise, even if petrol prices remain as low as they recently have been, because this 4WD is thirsty, but those factors don’t register , really, an LX570 driver could care less about any of those things.

If you can cope with its price-tag, this 4WD makes a fair bit of sense as a flashy and functional adventure machine.

$169,131

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

3.5/5

Adventure score

3.5/5

adventureguide rank

  • Light

    Dry weather gravel roads and formed trails with no obstacles, very shallow water crossings.

  • Medium

    Hard-packed sand, slight to medium hills with minor obstacles in all weather.

  • Heavy

    Larger obstacles, steeper climbs and deeper water crossings; plus tracks marked as '4WD only'