Excellent off-road capabilities; well-balanced on pavement; long list of luxury features; reliability.
Cramped third-row seats are not removable; expensive relative to the Toyota Land Cruiser.
When you're in the 2010 Lexus LX 570, you're surrounded by the best of Lexus luxury, from the sumptuous leather upholstery and exotic wood trim to the 19-speaker Mark Levinson audio system. And yet you also find yourself on rocky off-road trails, plowing through snow drifts or pulling a horse trailer. This is what happens when your Lexus luxury vehicle happens to be a luxurious doppelganger of the Toyota Land Cruiser.
For decades the Toyota Land Cruiser has built a reputation for supremely reliable go-anywhere capability, even as it has slowly grown larger and more high-tech in recent years. The 2010 Lexus LX 570 is built upon the same platform and has much the same bodywork but it's overlaid with the comfort and convenience features that come with the L badge.
At a starting price north of $76,000, the 2010 Lexus LX 570 is right up there in terms of capability, luxury and performance with the iconic Range Rover. However, the Lexus represents a more sensible choice when you consider the ability of the LX 570 to seat eight passengers rather than just five, plus the LX's reputation for impeccable reliability and excellent durability.
For buyers who cling to civilization, we suggest more carlike choices that offer comparable luxury. Among them, we recommend the Audi Q7 , BMW X5 and the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class, all of which are available with a third row of seats.
If you are one of the few who require a luxury SUV with the ability to tow something big or drive someplace difficult, then the 2010 Lexus LX 570 is rivaled only by the Range Rover and the seven-passenger Land Rover LR4. For our money, though, we still consider the Toyota Land Cruiser a smarter buy, especially since it's priced about $10,000 less than the Lexus.
Powering the 2010 Lexus LX 570 is a 5.7-liter V8 that churns out 383 horsepower and 403 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic with manual shift control is the only transmission available and power is distributed to all four wheels via a two-speed transfer case with a high and low range. Maximum towing capacity is 8,500 pounds, which is about 800 pounds more than the LX's closest competitor.
Considering that the LX 570 tips the scales at almost 6,000 pounds, we were quite impressed that the portly SUV could accelerate from zero to 60 mph from a standstill in only 7.4 seconds. This is right in line with the Range Rover. Also the LX comes to a halt from 60 mph in a short 119 feet, an impressive performance, although we noticed that the distance increased over repeated runs. As you'd expect from a heavy vehicle with a powerful engine, fuel economy is quite poor, as the LX is EPA rated at 12 city/18 highway mpg and 14 mpg in combined driving. We managed to attain 11.5 mpg during our test cycle, which emphasized city driving.
Physics is the enemy of cars of this size and weight, but the 2010 Lexus LX 570 copes with it well in the turns. It weaved through our slalom at 61.5 mph and circled our skid pad pulling 0.72g — both figures trounce the Range Rover. We doubt any sane pilot would attempt such antics, but it's nice to know that the Lexus might be that much more maneuverable when the need arises.
Even more impressive is the ability of the LX 570 to tackle off-road terrain. Despite riding on all-season tires, the big Lexus was able to summit steep inclines that would force other soft-roader luxury SUVs into retreat. However, the LX's approach and departure angles of 31 and 23 degrees are a bit less than those of the Range Rover, and it has 9 inches of ground clearance compared to the Range Rover's 11 inches.
Back in the civilized world, the 2010 Lexus LX 570 is well-behaved and refined. The ride quality is generally smooth and quiet, with little wind or road noise evident from within the cabin. Over rough pavement, the big Lexus can be a bit bouncy, though.
Front seat comfort is quite good, with ample padding to make long stints behind the wheel fatigue-free. The seating position is rather high, so the dash and wheel feel oddly low for taller drivers. Second-row seats are slightly less comfortable, mostly because of a low cushion that forces long-legged passengers into an uncomfortable position. Medium-size adults will find these rows comfortable, with plenty of space and reclining seatbacks. The third row, on the other hand, is best left to children, as it has even lower seats and very little headroom.
The driver seat affords a fairly unobstructed all-around view, but the LX 570's height and size still had us relying heavily on the rearview cameras to negotiate tight spots. The optional front and sideview cameras are also a big help when off-roading. The wide-view front camera removed any anxiety when cresting a peak, affording a clear view of the road below when only sky was visible through the windshield. Navigating narrow trails was also easy, thanks to the sideview camera (mounted on the underside of the passenger mirror) that gave us a guess-free indication of how close the car was to the edge of a pass.
Off-road adventures are further simplified with other electronic and mechanical features that are right at the driver's fingertips. Toggles on the center console enable ride height adjustments at low speed, the selection of low or high range in the transfer case, and three settings for the speed of the automatic crawl mode. Essentially, the driver only has to concentrate on steering when off-road, as all throttle and brake functions can be handled automatically.
We had some issues with our interface with the comfort and convenience controls. The climate controls are split between physical switches on the dash and virtual buttons on the touchscreen. This complicates manual operation, but fortunately, the automatic mode is effective enough to rarely need adjusting. It's a bit difficult to perform simple searches on the entertainment system when connected to an iPod, with unintuitive layers of menus to navigate. Sound quality itself, is decent, but not impressive for a premium Mark Levinson unit.
Storage solutions are also unimpressive, since our test vehicle featured the optional cooler box that replaces the center armrest bin. Pockets and cupholders are small and scarce, leaving few places to store personal effects.
Luggage space fares even worse with the third-row seats in place, leaving barely enough room for a golf bag and a small suitcase sitting on top. To make matters worse, these rearmost seats do not fold flat into the floor. They fold and pivot to the sides of the cabin and are not removable, making them permanent obstructions to wider cargo. Despite this, maximum cargo capacity is favorable when compared to rivals, with 83 cubic feet available behind the front seats. Parents will be glad to know that rear-facing child seats are easily installed, with little or no intrusion on front-seat comfort.
Overall, the 2010 Lexus LX 570's styling is about as generic as you'll find among large luxury SUVs. And that's not entirely a bad thing, when you consider the way the Infiniti QX56 makes us cringe. On the outside, the only distinguishing characteristics are the oversize taillights. Likewise, the interior is fairly ordinary, with nothing to either applaud or scorn. Interior materials and their fitment are what you'd expect from an SUV of this stature and price: excellent.
The 2010 Lexus LX 570 is an excellent choice for the wealthy outdoorsman, as are the offerings from Land Rover. Each of these vehicles offers astounding off-road capabilities, along with a luxurious cabin that isolates passengers from the wilderness or madness of the city. The Lexus does have an edge over the Range Rover and Land Rover LR3, as the vehicles from the Land Rover brand consistently rank near the bottom in terms of reliability. If potholes are as rugged as your terrain gets, we'd suggest other luxury SUVs along the lines of the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GL-Class or Porsche Cayenne.