On a hot day worthy of the Kalahari, Lexus launched the updated luxury version of the “King of the Road”. We had a post of off-road shenanigans on the top of a mountain outside Canberra. Not only was it 40c but the winds made it feel like we were standing inside a hair dryer.
Two things became obvious very quickly: The LX 570 is big, and it is very competent.
A canny observer would notice the similarity with the Toyota LandCruiser, that’s because it is the LC200 on which the LX is based. The LX is aimed squarely at a buyer who wants a level of luxury above the LandCruiser Sahara which itself is already very luxurious. It doesn’t take long to imagine bobbing across the burning sand dunes in central OZ. It’s a strange feeling to be so comfortable with such a hostile environment only a glass window away, but the LX keeps the adventurers cool and completely unflapped.
You might ask yourself where such an enormous vehicle fits in the greater scheme of things, so let’s look at the stats:
Price: $152,605 (driveaway NSW), 5.7L V8 petrol, 7 seats, 270kw/530Nm, 14.4L/100km
I’ll deal with the fuel consumption first: We limited the test to the city which is where most of the owners will spend their time. The Lexus boss once told me that probably no new LX 570s will see off-road use. Sad, but there you go. It will be fa more likely to find itself sitting snuggly in a cosy garage tucked away in some leafy suburb with a terribly posh name. He also said “we don’t have diesels because that’s not what our buyers want”, but I think there are posh buyers who would buy a diesel. After all there are diesel Land Rovers that are every bit as snooty.
Lexus says the LX will do 20.2L/100km around town, but god only knows where they get that figure from. We got a smidgen under 30L/100km trying to be as gentle as possible. Sticking the boot in makes that figure even more dire because you simply can’t haul near 3 tonnes without using lots and lots of fuel.
The 5.7V8 feels effortless even in a hulking brute like this. In city traffic the LX almost feel nippy, and if you turn the driving mode dial to Spot or Sport+, things liven up even more. The steering is hydraulic adding an air of ye olde worlde solidarity.
Even the gentlest press on the accelerator bring the V8 to life fast. It sounds good too, but that just a bonus. Luckily the tank is big enough that you don’t have to run to the petrol shop every five minutes. The main tank holds 93L with a sub tank of 45L. As in all things, if you have to complain about the price of filling it, you can’t afford it.
On the freeway, the gentle wafting feels like a very tall limo. There were some undulations which made us feel like a boat had kidnapped us and taken us to sea. It wasn’t actually unpleasant but you wouldn’t want a full stomach if it continued for too long. None the less, even in the back seat there is a mountain of room. In fact it feels positively capacious.
I doubt the 3rd row of seats will see much use, but with many of us having in-laws on board who knows. The cabin is so silent and at times, the loudest sound is the air coming from the climate control vents or the squeak of expensive leather.
There is a full suite of electronic off-road gadgets, but as I said already, those knobs will not be wearing out from over-use. Although you won’t use Crawl, or Hill Descent Control in town, you might use a tow bar with sway control. I know a couple who have horses and tow a horse float. They do horsey things, and wear riding gear. They’ve been known to open the two-piece tailgate to use the lower section to perch on while nibbling on a chicken wing. It saves dropping crumbs on the carpet. LX follows in a long line of big butch vehicles like Range Rover and LandRover to serve such an august purpose.
I took the chance to ferry friends around and all said the same thing: “how nice the LX is to ride in”. Most were surprised at how easily I was able to nip through traffic. They commented on the fact that they had not been in such a big car that was as easy to handle as a hatchback. The lumbering nature of most large SUVs is down to the driver and nothing whatever to do with the vehicle involved. We’ve all seen the debacle at school time as we try to navigate our way through the Paris-Hilton-Sunglass-Wearing-soccer-moms clogging vital arteries around 3 pm. They double park with gay abandon, or worse still, cruise at 15kph scanning for car parks the clearly are not. Somehow they think that the slower you go, the more likely it is that a park will magically will itself into existence.
The cargo hold is big but the 3rd row of seats fold to the sides at the press of a button.
I can see it how: glamping in style towing a vintage Airstream, the concert-hall-like sound system, the loungeoom-like cabin, and a happy gay couple touring the country like kings. Sure most of us would rather fly and get a posh room at the other end, but there will always be those who want to cocoon.
The LX lacks some of the tech goodies you get in the RX such as the nifty 360 degree camera but it more than makes up for it with incredible capacity to go anywhere you want.
Would I buy one? I might. If I had the money for an LX, I might also want to look at a Range Rover Sport which is a nicer driver and much more economical with its 4.4L V8 diesel.