2009 Lexus LX570 – Luxurious Anonymity
The reigning king of the Luxury SUV hill is probably the Range Rover. High priced at $77,175. Features most couldn’t conceive of in an off-road environment. Extremely competent off road. The top of the Land Rover line has established a tremendous reputation and following as THE aspirational Luxury SUV. Range Rover is not the best selling Luxury SUV, but it casts a wide shadow. And has since the early 1970s. VehicleVoice was on hand at The Grand Del Mar Hotel for the media preview of the Lexus LX570. Priced at $73,800, LX570 undercuts the Rangie, but is no less competent.
LX570 – 3rd Generation Lexus LX
Lexus entered the upper end of the Luxury SUV market in 1996 with a facelifted and upgraded Toyota Land Cruiser – the Lexus LX450. The 1st Gen LX was replaced in 1999 by the LX470 which was freshened in 2002 and 2005. So, after a ten year run, it is time for Lexus to bring its latest LX to the market – the LX570.
The first two LX generations did not set the world on fire from a sales standpoint. They were functional-looking SUVs loaded with features. Not head-turners. Not something to make your blood rush. They did, however, bring a very interesting clientele to Lexus. Younger, highly affluent, not wanting to make a strong statement with their vehicle. Confident, not having to show off their wealth. The 3rd Gen LX follows the same formula and hopes to attract the same type of buyer for slightly under 10,000 units per year or 3.5 LX570s per month for each of Lexus’ 223 dealers.
Land Cruiser Platform is Again Base for LX570
The all new 2009 Lexus LX570 takes the Toyota Land Cruiser and adds finesse and sophistication to the tried and true Land Cruiser. Land Cruiser is biased towards ultimate off-road capability for those markets that need bulletproof quality and reliability… maybe the Taliban and Al Qaeda… but without doubt, the rough and rugged Middle East is a prime target for Land Cruiser. The LX570 has a different target altogether. Very affluent, younger families living in suburbia.
Lexus achieves the transition with subtle styling differences to the front end cheetmetal and rear end, huge improvements in NVH (the Lexus DNA), and a unique interior. But still, rather than going for ultra luxury and bling like Escalade or Navigator, LX570 biases itself towards the tremendously off-road capable Range Rover. The interior of the LX570, while very luxurious, does not approach Range Rover, Navigator or Escalade.
LX570 Fails Cargo Room Test
From a package standpoint, LX570 fails to solve the cargo room equation. Mr. Hideki Watanabe, Chief Engineer of the LX570 program, explained that LX is biased towards ultimate off-road capability. Therefore, he contends, it must have a solid rear axle rather than an independent rear suspension. What this does is forces a higher rear load floor. The 3rd row seats do not fold into the floor, they raise up against the quarter trim panels. Power, of course, but still a clumsy solution. The 2nd row seats do not fold flat either. We would have preferred the solution that Navigator uses. Independent rear suspension to give a low load floor and power operated 3rd row seat that folds flat into the floor. The 2nd row seat also folds flat giving a continuous flat load floor from liftgate to the rear of the front seats.
5.7L V8 Transforms LX Performance
Where LX570 excels is in performance. The 5.7L V8 from the Tundra puts out 383-horsepower and 403lb-ft of torque. This is enough to pull the weighty LX570 from 0 to 60mph in about 7-seconds. Not bad for an SUV this size. At freeway speeds, punch the LX570 and you can accelerate around any obstacle. Great for active safety.
So, LX570 compromises interior function for off-road capability that Lexus management admit almost none of the LX owners will ever use. How good is it? Off-road, the LX570 is GREAT! In fact, it is so good, it almost takes the fun out of it. With the air conditioning on and great NVH, the LX is almost as seamless off-road as on. Gone are the days when you had to lock the front hubs when activating four wheel drive (LX has a full time 4×4 setup). One of the most impressive and fun features of the LX is its crawl mode. Press a lever on the console and select a speed – 1, 2 or 3mph, and the LX will maintain that speed up or down a hill activating brakes and accelerator as appropriate. In a severe downhill crawl with the system activated the solenoids and actuators activating and deactivating sound like a tribe of Zulu warriors. Very cool. (The new Land Cruiser also has this feature).
Too bad almost none of the LX owners will ever experience this feature.
So, what would we have done? We would have compromised off-road capability and adopted an independent rear suspension to get more interior utility. We would have gone where the buyers are rather than where the Land Cruiser platform forced the vehicle to go. Maybe invest in a unique rear suspension for the low volume LX570. It is surely priced high enough to absorb more investment and cost. But that’s just our opinion, no matter how wrong it may be.
The new LX provides Lexus with a very capable range topping Luxury SUV capable of selling its 9,500 to 10,000 units per year. Sure, it only gets 12/18mpg, but that poor gas mileage is only a blip in the budget of a family that has a median income of $380,000.
Lexus’ Website Includes the following blurb on the LX570:
Luxury knows no bounds.
Introducing the all-new innovative LX 570.
The all-new 2008 LX 570 is the result of years of Lexus engineering and technology breakthroughs. With a powerful, new 5.7-liter V8 engine, delivering over 380 horsepower , it combines the strength of a premier Luxury Utility Vehicle with the level of luxury you’ve come to expect from a Lexus. The spacious interior is the pinnacle of comfort with four-zone climate control, third-row seating and even an available cool box to keep your beverages chilled. A push-button Start/Stop makes fumbling with car keys a thing of the past.
And a vehicle of the LX’s stature deserves an audio system to match–such as the impressive, available 19-speaker Mark Levinson® Reference Surround Sound Audio System  coupled with a 2,000-song-capacity Hard Disk Drive (HDD). The LX comes standard with a voice-activated HDD Navigation System, as well as XM® Satellite Radio and XM®NavTraffic™  capability which provides real-time traffic information.
The LX 570 also makes safety a priority. It’s the first in its class to offer a Wide-view Front and Side Monitor , which uses a camera on the passenger side-mirror and front grille to help improve peripheral vision in front and allow greater visibility on the LX’s right side. Plus, it’s the first of its class to feature active front headrests and an available Pre-Collision System . The new LX has also been completely redesigned with distinctive Lexus L-finesse styling, so its lines are smooth even when the road isn’t.