The 2008 Lexus LX 570 is the vehicular proof of the saying, "There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes." There might be a snowstorm or a desert between you and where you're going, and yet the LX is always prepared, always wearing the right clothes.
This is true luxury, utility brought to such perfection that it makes anything possible. It's as if you could be sure of turning up anywhere with exactly the right clothes, whether it's a ski weekend in the mountains or a summer vacation at the shore — even some kind of event where people dress fancy for dinner.
Too bad Lexus has managed to keep this a secret.
Since its introduction in 1996, the LX has effectively taken over the franchise of the Toyota Land Cruiser, becoming the ultimate expression of durability, reliability and go-anywhere utility that the Land Cruiser has always represented in the Toyota universe. So it's no surprise that the 2008 Lexus LX 570 is just like the new-generation Toyota Land Cruiser, only with even more stuff.
Toyota's customary Disney-style imagineering brings us no fewer than 35 new features with the new-generation LX. At the top of the list is the new 383-horsepower 5.7-liter V8 matched up with a six-speed automatic transmission, a powertrain that comes from the 2007 Toyota Tundra pickup trunk.
Right after that, the 2008 LX 570 is set apart by its electronically controlled suspension with adaptive ride height and damping control, and it can deliver that whole luxury Lexus thing no matter what kind of terrain it's reading under its new 20-inch wheels with P285/50R20 Michelin Latitude Tour HP tires. The LX also shares the new electronically controlled, off-road crawl control introduced by the 2008 Toyota Land Cruiser, a careful integration of the antilock brakes and the engine's electronic throttle that lets you fearlessly descend steep, slippery trails in a kind of cruise control.
But really, the most important items that make the LX 570 different from the 2008 Toyota Land Cruiser are pure luxury features, like the power-sliding second-row seats and the latest Mark Levinson audio system. Not to mention such new gotta-have-it stuff from the Toyota catalog as four-zone climate control and front- and sideview video monitors.
Abilities Beyond the Human
There certainly is a lot of stuff altogether. LX Chief Engineer Hideki Watanabe says, "We wanted the engine and the transmission to be powerful enough to allow the LX to do just about anything. We wanted the technology to connect the LX and the occupants to the world around them, enabling them to do more by giving them abilities beyond the human to see where others cannot, hear what others cannot and do what other vehicles cannot."
It sounds kind of like having your own personal robot mega-vehicle, as if you were a Power Ranger or something.
There's a little more LX to drive around with this new-generation platform, for while the wheelbase remains the same at 112.2 inches, its overall dimensions expand fractionally. But you never notice, really. There's that magic suspension taking the sting out of any kind of road surface, plus a six-speed automatic that thinks for itself (in a good way) and an engine with an even stronger, broader powerband than ever before.
You can drive it fast or drive it slow, and the LX just shrugs and goes about its business without complaint. Lexus claims the LX 570 will get to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds and then reach the quarter-mile in 15.8 seconds.
Of course, what you find yourself doing in the Lexus LX 570 is simply loafing around town like some kind of overprivileged country-club slacker. Aside from the big step up into the cabin of this body-on-frame, off-road-ready vehicle, the LX proves as practical and maneuverable as a Camry, so you're always using it to pick up another bag of crushed ice down at the party store.
The Adventure Quotient
You can get the Lexus LX 570 dirty, but it's hard to think of a good reason for it. The adventure quotient is just something the LX keeps in reserve for those occasional blizzards or sandstorms, and it's hard to think about breaking trail in a trackless waste when you're moving expensive furniture you've just bought from the home store.
Since it's meant to carry on the legacy of the Land Cruiser, the LX has miraculous off-road capability. There are plenty of die-hards who will tell you that the Land Cruiser lost its way when its inline-6 engine and solid front axle were replaced in 1998 by a V8 and independent front suspension. And they'll tell you that the LX 570's all-singing, all-dancing showcase of all-active suspension and sophisticated electronic traction control won't win it any friends out there in the big beyond.
Yet the truth is that the LX 570 can go places that will leave old-school sport-utes of the iron age stuck in the rocks. The big news here is Toyota's own version of hill-descent control, an off-road stability control that keeps the LX's tires firmly on the ground even when you're driving down a pitch so steep that you're hanging in the seatbelts. A flick of a switch on the center console gives you a choice of three different speed settings, one even slower than a walking pace.
There was a time when the use of glorified antilock braking to sustain off-road traction seemed wimpy and fraught with disaster, but now we take for granted the rapid-fire stutter of the ABS solenoids on the LX's firewall. Toyota engineers tell us that it takes 3 minutes of absolutely continuous action before the system begins to overheat, and there's not much chance of that.
We'll admit that there are circumstances in which mechanical limited-slip differentials might be a better deal, but then they're clunky and troublesome the rest of the time. The LX's electronics are just fine, and they're just fine all the time.
Prospective LX owners (household income in excess of $385,000, so the marketing wizards at Lexus say) are more likely to be attracted to the new vehicle's 8,500-pound towing capacity, which is what you want as the owner of either some kind of hay-burner with expensive bloodlines or a far more sensible 25-foot Skipjack fishing boat. The six-speed transmission works the magic here, as the combination of plenty of gear ratios and good shift logic makes towing pretty effortless.
Big, Blonde and Bland
For all this, the only things the LX will be packing will be people and stuff. The seats flip and fold and slide like some kind of puzzle box that manages to fit 10 pounds of stuff in a 5-pound bag.
On a daily basis, the LX proves altogether pleasant. It's climate-controlled and wired for sound. It's so easy to drive that it would be the first choice as your daily driver. It's the ultimate Camry.
And as in a Camry, it's too easy to take the LX's excellence for granted. It looks luxurious, but it has no noticeable style, pretty much like one of those resort hotels with a couple of stucco turrets and a little too much marble. It's got a terrific golf course, a full-service spa and an exquisite restaurant, but you find yourself hanging out at the pool in one of those white robes, eating hot dogs for lunch.
Lexus has worked so hard to make the LX a luxury vehicle that no one seems to appreciate just how good it is.
The Luxury Message
There are plenty of people out there waiting for the 2008 Lexus LX 570, even at its base price of $73,800 ($74,565 including $765 destination fee).
The Lexus LX 570 has so much more to offer than effortless transportation, yet it seems that no one understands it. The LX needs some romance, a story of adventure to tell. It's always wearing the right clothes, and yet it doesn't look quite right.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.