There are two ways of looking at the Lexus LX570 – it’s either a ludicrously expensive Toyota 200 Series (considering the top-spec LandCruiser Sahara V8 petrol lists for $115K) or a relatively cheap eight-seat luxury SUV.
Whichever way you look at it, it’s still a lot of car for the money. The asking price is just shy of $143,000 plus on-roads. By comparison, that’s around $115,000 less than the cheapest Range Rover V8 equivalent – only you still won’t get the same level of standard kit on board.
It’s a huge vehicle. At almost 5.1m long, nearly 1.9m tall and just under 2.0m wide, the LX570 has an intimidating on-road presence, particularly if you happen to be stuck behind it in your affordable family hatch.
And it’s not just the sheer size of this monster Lexus that demands attention, it’s also that gaping mouth (dubbed spindle grille), the same as every other Lexus – only a hell of a lot bigger on this truck.
It’s heavy, too, because like its LandCruiser cousin, the LX still rides on an old-school ladder-frame chassis – meaning it weighs a ton (actually, up to 2.7 tonnes with the additional features pack). But, it can also tow up to 3500kg, as well as being armed to the teeth with proper off-road technology.
True eight-seat rivals, at least those from the Far East, are few and far between, especially in the luxury segment. Infiniti has the latest version of its QX80, which is even bigger, though just as brash, but also significantly less expensive at $110,900 given it is based on the Nissan Patrol.
It’s funny how things change, too. For so many years, Lexus billed itself as the understated, smart-money luxury automotive brand, yet now with the carmaker’s current corporate face it’s anything but, and something that surely sets the brand apart from its more restrained European rivals these days.
As you might expect, the LX570 isn’t a big seller, shifting around 35 units per month, which is actually more than we might have expected for what is a decidedly niche vehicle for those with big families or even bigger boats. Either way, space is king here.
Not only is this an eight-seater with proper lap/sash seatbelts for all, and 10 airbags to boot, it’s also got a ton of luggage space. Even with the third row in place and a car full of kids, you’ve still got plenty of room for a proper weekly grocery shop – that’s 259 litres.
You can fold the third-row seats electrically from the rear of the boot, expanding the load space to 1220L. However, drop the second row too (these slide electrically via a button on the side of the outside chairs) and that will free up enough space to clean out Bing Lee (2074L). That said, the fold-down third-row seats certainly do encroach into the cargo area, at least when not in use.
Third-row access is easy enough, though more suited to agile kids than ageing adults, but at least the seats themselves are well-cushioned and comfortable enough for a trip away. Rear leg and head space are also good in all three rows, though not quite limo style as you might have expected in the second, but very pleasant all the same.
While you’ll also find liberal use of cheaper plastics around the cabin, particularly in the boot, we’ve always been impressed by the plush-pile carpet on the floor of every Lexus. It makes it a pleasure to drive when you’re just chilling (sans shoes) on the weekends.
Truth be told, not a lot has changed on the LX570 since its last major upgrade back in 2015, which was huge and essentially produced the vehicle we have here on test. Along the way, there have been minor updates like alloy wheel colour changes and rear seat entertainment surrounds, but even Lexus cites the key change as being the addition of pedestrian detection to the Pre-collision System.
Frankly, there wasn’t much Lexus could add to the list of equipment, there never is with Lexus, such is the extensive list of features it has to cram into this thing.
Naturally, that huge face incorporates modern LED headlamps with adaptive high-beam, as well as those tricky sequential turn signals, but it’s inside where the LX570 really pops as far as creature comforts go.
The list of features is simply ridiculous and far too extensive to list here with an item-by-item account. You name it, it’s got it. A 12.3-inch super-sharp floating screen takes centre stage, but it still uses Lexus’s clumsy mouse-like controller that just never feels intuitive.
There’s everything from keyless entry and start to quad-zone climate control with ventilation for all three rows. Other goodies include a crystal clear head-up display and easy-entry hydraulic suspension that drops the vehicle for more convenient ingress, or raises it at the touch of a rocker switch.
Supple leather upholstery is a given with any Lexus, as is electric steering column adjustment and power tailgate. In fact, it’s hard to think of something that isn’t electrically powered inside the LX.
Rear-seat passengers also get 11.6-inch dual high-definition tablets, and there’s a 19-speaker high-end sound system by Mark Levinson that is truly up there with the best in the business. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Safety is also high on the agenda, with the LX570 benefiting from a host of the very latest active systems including Pre-collision Safety, active cruise control, lane departure warning, and blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert. Pedestrian detection automatically applies the brakes between 10–80km/h if it detects a person, or up to 180km/h if a vehicle is detected.
However, what this vehicle does first and foremost is transport lots of people in sheer unadulterated comfort. There’s still the same heavy-drinking 5.7-litre V8 petrol engine under the bonnet (there’s a 4.5-litre twin-turbo V8 diesel on the way to showrooms now) with a comfortable 270kW and 530Nm of torque. It’s no firecracker given the sheer heft of the vehicle, but it is beautifully smooth and refined.
There’s a drive-mode selector that gives you a choice of five settings, but from Normal to Comfort it is effortless grace as you simply waft forward via the seamlessly shifting eight-speed auto.
Slip it into Sport or Sport Plus, though, and that initial getaway becomes more urgent – still smooth, though, but also with less power assist for a more natural steering feel.
This is also a mega-size SUV that simply crushes any bump before it. But in any one of those less aggressive drive modes, there’s also a good deal of body roll at play. It always feels like a big SUV – there’s no getting around the physics.
For sure, this tendency is reduced in the sportier drive modes, but you’re always aware of the 570’s size and weight. Frankly, the ride is so compliant even in Sport that it became our default drive mode over the course of the week.
It’ll also tow up to 3500kg and it will go just about anywhere off-road, but do you really want to do that with your luxury family SUV? If that’s a yes, then this Lexus has a battery of off-road assistance to make life easy in that regard, such as Crawl Control, which is essentially 'off-roading for dummies' without the need for throttle or brake, working in concert with active suspension and height control. There’s even Turn Assist, which helps this thing get around on tight tracks.
In addition, there’s also multi-surface ABS that helps this giant stop effectively on slippery surfaces. Better still, the LX570 gets a full-view monitoring system with four cameras that provide advanced warning of what’s ahead and to the passenger side of the vehicle.
It’s hardly the most dynamic SUV on the planet, but it doesn’t profess to be anything of the sort either. But for value for money, space, features and the bulletproof reliability of the brand, this unit is hard to beat for those with these specific requirements.
It’s growing on me, too – the size, I mean. Other vehicles tend to get out of your way. I'm just not sure I want to fill it up, though, not with the fuel gauge reading 20–22L/100km, which is what we saw cruising around suburbia. It’s a little more considerate of your bank balance on the open road, but not by much.