2010 Lexus LX 570

October 21, 2011

The 2010 Lexus LX 570 is a vehicle of extremes. It's the biggest Lexus on the road, and it has a massive V-8 engine to go with it. It also has tons of cupholders, stereo speakers, air vents, ride-control options, safety features and road presence. It goes through gas like there's an endless supply of the stuff. This luxury SUV is not fooling around.

I had a split reaction to the LX 570. The kid in me, who's a materialistic, fun-loving speed demon, loved it. I loved pushing all the buttons and listening to the engine's roar as it hauled its massive body up the steep hills of my neighborhood. I loved knowing that I had room enough for the most outrageous carpool – this SUV can carry eight people – or even the most irresponsible of shopping sprees. It was just fun. However, the mature, eco-conscious killjoy of a practical parent in me just winced at the excess of it all. The adjustable ground clearance and four-wheel-drive crawl control system was wasted on my suburban roads. And the price tag? My test car, which had the Luxury Package, cost $83,860. The LX 570 starts at $76,905. This is not my idea of economical.

Though the all-wheel-drive LX is based on the Toyota Sequoia, the ride is all Lexus, with a three-mode adaptive suspension. The LX 570 doesn't drive like a truck or a bus, which is what I expected. While there's virtually no road feel, there's also little roly-poly heaviness in the turns. I was comfortable tackling twisty roads and poorly maintained highways in this full-size SUV. The only place I didn't enjoy driving the LX was in tight parking lots because of its gigantic size. The LX 570 has plenty of power to haul its bulk around, plus anything you'd like to tow up to 8,500 pounds.

EXTERIOR

For its gigantic size, the LX 570 isn't particularly stylish or exciting looking. It's a huge, rounded-off square of an SUV, with a piggy snout and bulgy rear that don't add any sleekness to the LX. The huge headlights, situated at the far corners of the front, manage to dwarf the chrome grille. Without any hard edges, this SUV manages to look soft. In spite of all that the LX looks big and expensive, which, I'm sure, was the Lexus' goal. Mission accomplished.

The LX has Active Height Control, which allows you to choose one of three ride heights with the push of a button. It also has an automatic setting that drops the LX to its lowest ride height when you turn the SUV off. This made getting in and out of it much easier. It's also kind of like an amusement park ride. I couldn't stop playing with it. Up! Down! Wheeee! Getting in and out of the LX was also easy because of its big, wide-swinging doors, which somehow weren't too heavy for my kiddos to manage. The running boards doors helped them out, too. They also made access to the third row less of a struggle.

The rear cargo door is split into a power liftgate and a manual tailgate. Rather than mess with the tailgate, I mostly just pushed the button to open the upper liftgate. I had to lift groceries and luggage over the closed tailgate, but I considered it a shoulder workout.

The LX 570 has a 383-horsepower, 5.7-liter V-8 engine and gets 12/18 mpg city/highway. With that poor gas mileage, you'll be frequently stopping at the gas station where you'll have to buy premium gas for this luxury SUV. Ouch.

SENSE AND STYLE

Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Great

Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Good Times

INTERIOR

If I wasn't wild about the exterior looks of the LX 570, the interior comfort made it up to me. Huge, soft leather seats embraced me with heat or air conditioning, which is optional, at the touch of a button. While I reveled in the luxury of a warmed or cooled tushy, the perforated seats that provided such comfort also collected crumbs and mystery grunge. Those are the trade-offs, I guess.

Warm wood trim softened the cool gray tones of the dashboard. A recessed rubberized pad held my iPhone, while the Bluetooth connectivity not only made the phone functions hands-free but streamed my music almost magically. My only beef with the audio system was the volume seemed to move in such small increments that I felt like I was cranking the volume just to hear the lyrics.

I also could have used more storage in the front seat. The center console bin is cooled and insulated, but it's on the small side. While that's certainly a nifty feature, I never turned it on. I'd rather have someplace to stash my baby wipes and crayons. In the LX, I usually just tossed everything on the front passenger seat, which makes for a mad scramble whenever another adult tries to climb in.

I find Lexus' center stack to be clumsy and hard to use. The touch-screen is at its center and requires the driver to look away from the road to do anything. Options fade in and out as the car comes to a stop and begins to move again, and some functions seem to be voice control only, which is confusing. The voice-control system works well, but it's slow and cumbersome, with long pauses between prompts and responses. I don't think it liked me very much. I may have gotten snippy with it.

In the backseat, there's plenty of room for three adults, three kids or three child-safety seats, but it's virtually impossible to buckle the center seat belt. It's much easier to toss that third or fourth kiddo in the third row. To get to the third row, second-row seats tumble forward easily, with a one-handed release. The second row's power-sliding feature creates additional legroom for the third row when it's in use.

There's a large armrest that folds down in the second row, and it not only provides cupholders but a shallow storage bin, as well. This was great for stowing the optional rear entertainment system's remote control and a couple of DVDs. In the third row, the kids were pretty comfortable, but adults might find it a tight fit. I could sit back there, but I wouldn't want to for very long. There are also cupholders and a storage bin below the windows in the third row.

Lexus has stayed with its odd folding mechanism, which folds the back of the seats downward and then lifts the whole seat up toward the sides of the car. This is made fairly painless by a power-folding function, but it still impedes rear visibility. I'd rather see the seats fold into the floor.

IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT

Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample

Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Galore

SAFETY

In the three-row LX 570, there are only two sets of lower Latch anchors. They're located in the outboard seats in the second row and hidden behind small leather flaps that are held in place with Velcro. Once the flap is down, they're easy to access, and there's no digging or searching for the anchors.

Installing car seats is a breeze, thanks to the wide, flat seats that accommodate a variety of styles. On the downside, hoisting heavy car seats up into the LX 570 might be a back injury waiting to happen. Suddenly, the Active Height Control looks less ridiculous.

The LX 570 comes with standard four-wheel-disc antilock brakes, active front head restraints, an electronic stability system with traction control, all-wheel drive, a backup camera and 10 airbags, including side-impact airbags for the front and second rows, knee airbags for the driver and front passenger, and side curtains for all three rows. It also has adaptive headlights, which swivel around curves as the driver turns the steering wheel. Each light swivels independently, based upon the degree of the turn, the speed of the vehicle and math I won't pretend to understand.

Optional safety features on the LX 570 include a Pre-Collision System with adaptive cruise control ($1,500). This system uses radar to gauge the distance between the LX and other vehicles in front of it and maintains one of three following distances using both the throttle and the brakes. Freeway driving becomes close to painless because of this feature. This same system determines when a collision is imminent – even when the cruise control is off – and it primes all the safety systems to prepare for a crash.

Photo courtesy of Lexus

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