First Impressions

OMG this thing is massive, oh sorry that came out a bit too quickly. This Lexus is a big unit, and made to feel even bigger but the ominous front grill that greeted me as I rounded the corner to the Lexus dealer where I picked it up. Just to put some perspective on this, I am 6’6” tall, and I had to get up on my tippy toes to see the roof of this thing, it’s HUGE !!!. And that’s not the only huge thing about the new top of the line luxury SUV from Lexus, its price tag is HUGE too, starting at $179,900. First impressions…… it’s big, really big, like a tank, and unfortunately shares similar visual aspect to a tank, as it’s not so pleasant to look at, which is quite a shame as the new NX and RX both are quite striking vehicles.

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Inside

Once I’m inside, inside…… was that an echo? Again it’s just monstrous inside, and it does not feel too far off climbing into a Mack Truck. In the driver’s seat, you quickly feel like you’re on top of the world. Maybe this is how Kate Winslet felt on the nose of the Titanic, looking down upon everything else around you, basically a sea of roof tops. But it’s quite a nice place to be, very comfy and well padded leather seats, which is one of those things like the plush car mats, that Lexus do almost better then most of the Germans. Nicely trimmed dash and centre console, which looked to have more buttons than a space ship command and control panel. And the toys, there are a lot of them. Double glazing, 4-zone climate control, paddle shifters, lane assist and radar cruise control, front, side and rear cameras, HUD display, two TV display screens with headphones mounted on the rear of the fronts seat, and a HDMI input on the back of the centre console. There was also third row of seats in the back, giving you enough room for 8 people. And finally what seemed like every offroad feature known to man, but more on those later.

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One of the more impressive systems on board which I have not seen before was the Climate Concierge. An intelligent system that monitors multiple heating and cooling systems all at the same time. So if it’s a hot day, and the car is baking when you jump in. All you have to do is set the main temp controls on the centre console to the temperature you would like. If you selected 18 degrees, it would alter the multi-zone climate air control for your zone, and set the seats to cooling automatically. And if it was the dead of winter, and you jumped in, and set it to 24, it would do the same with the air, heating it up, set the seat heaters on and heat up the steering wheel as well. Simple idea and well executed, I like it.

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A lot of cars these days come with a plethora of features, some are great, some are well needed safety systems, while others you press once and never touch it again. However this is the first time that I have come across two buttons, that for the life of me, I can’t figure out why you would want to even have them. The first of these is the on/off switch for the power rear door, which is beside the button to open the power rear door. Why would I need to turn this off ?. And the second was something that tripped me up for several days. The dial to set the brightness of the dash has a final and somewhat hidden switch when dialed to the max. It clicks into place and sets the dash and main screen to max daytime setting. This remained in daylight mode even at night, which was very annoying, and forced me to turn the map off as it was too bright. It was not until I found this hidden feature and by setting it one click down from the max, it allowed the dash and screen to switch automatically between day and night mode again.

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I found the third row of seats a bit odd, not for how they are setup, but based on how you operate them. Personally I would have prefered the seats to fold down into the floor, instead of up and to the side, but to each their own. However with this system you did not seem to have the options to have a sliding boot cover to conceal anything you may have stored in the boot.

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Back to this third row, if they are in place, and you want to fold them away, it’s simple. You press one button for each of the seatbacks to fold away. And then another for the seats to fold up into the side of the boot. Both of these are controlled electronically and easy to use. However where it gets weird is with the reverse operation. You use the same buttons to fold the chairs down, but then have to manually pull the back of the seats up with the pulley on each seat. Why on earth would you have two systems, you almost had it all controlled electronically, why not just go all the way and put that last motor in there. For the price, they are asking, you should expect it at the very least. And one more manual thing that bugged me, was the sunroof cover. I know, it’s not a big deal to pull it to open it, but this thing is $180k, I have had cars that cost half that come with more sunroof options as standard. For me, you either go all the way with Luxury or do not try at all, don’t half ass it. Even the $42k Corolla Levin we tested had an electric cover.    

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The Drive

Some cars have two personalities, but most don’t, and for the LX it’s luxury all the way, with a dash of buttons that say sport or sport +. Even though the looks did not appeal to most, this car handled very well, surprisingly well for its size. I have generally owned big cars, but this was a very big car, but it felt very natural to drive, and at no time did I feel like it was hard to negotiate roads, or park anywhere. And it’s quiet, like really quiet. I had pondered if they have used spray foam to fill the gaps just to keep all the wind or any sounds out. You had to try hard, but if you listened very carefully you could hear the road noise from the large 21inch tyres.  And like the majority of other Lexus vehicles, there was no wind noise at all, all thanks to the double glazing and double rubber seals on the doors and filling every panel gap. The LX is not quite what I would call floating on a cloud, more like a waterbed filled with jello. It was very smooth, but you felt it move around, due to the 3.5 ton weight and its height off the road. I think luxury and comfort can be ticked off here.

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The engine itself was also very quiet, inside and out, which may come as a shock as it’s a naturally aspirated 5.7L petrol V8, that produces 270kw and 500 Nm. It does the job quite well, never leaving you with that “little engine that could” feeling. It was not super fast, which was expected, but it can pull this massive beast to 100km/h in 7.7 seconds. Lexus V8’s have always had a good rep and are widely sought after as engine swaps, due to their performance and reliability. The only down side to this engine, was its visible setting, within a sea of plastic. But it had a nice hum to it, you could hear it, but it was never really loud enough to drown out a conversation. When you dial the LX into sport or sport + mode, you don’t feel a huge difference. There is a slight change to the suspension, and a bit more instantaneous power. But the overall character stays the same. Another thing that surprised me, was that I prefered this vehicle in comfort mode; sport and sport+ were just a little too bumpy instead of performance firm. One thing that worked much better than I had expected them to were the brakes. When you wanted it to stop fast in the event of an emergency, it felt like it just took the anchor from the Titanic and just chucked it out the back. Even though it seemed to be as big and weigh as much as the moon, it’s got the stopping power to leave you feeling very confident behind the wheel.

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I decided that if it’s AWD I would take it offroad. It’s probably the only time it will ever see the off road, but at least we did it. I took it down to Makara beach, which is not exactly the Mount Everest of off road adventures, but it allowed me to test out some of the off road feature on the large loose rocks and sand. Before I go any further, I want to clear up one thing. I am no offroader, this is new territory for me. However I expect that will be the case for the majority of LX owners, so that makes it a legit test. Before we rolled off the tarmac, I put it in Neutral, and engaged 4-Lo. A heavy clunk sounded under the vehicle, and I was good to go. As I rolled off, the LX automatically started to raise into its highest position, giving the wheels around 6 inches of clearance to the guards. Another automatic feature was the Terrain Active Select mode, which was a selection of crawl modes for different terrain. You could select these manually or leave it in Terrain Active Select and it would guess, and it nailed in it less then a second, as loose rock displayed on the dash. The LX quite happily pottered around on the rocks, and sand, going up and down some of the wave deformed inclines along the beach. This is what it must feel like to drive a hippo, or maybe more accurately, an Elephant. Go forward, and it goes forward, go over there, and it would lumber along, shifting around as the ground moves under it, but never worried about it. For what I experienced, it seem handle the rough stuff quite well.

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What it’s up against

Right here, is where the LX hits a brick wall, or in its case a mountain, as it would turn a brick wall to dust. When you check out the markets options, you will find that $179,900 is a lot of money, and there are a lot of other options around that price, all of which are German or British made luxury SUV’s. Personally I could not see the justification for buying this over one of the other options, and I have to be honest here and say it’s mainly down to how it looks. It drives well and was surprising easy to live with for the week I had it. So the looks are really its major let down, and all the other SUV’s on the market feel slicker, more luxurious and more expensive than the LX 570, which is probably what the target market is looking for too.

Large Luxury SUV’s

Brand / ModelEnginePowerFuel L/100kmBoot CapacitySeatsPrice Highest to Lowest
Mercedes-Benz GL 500 ‘Edition S’4.7L V8 BiTurbo320kw / 700 Nm11.5 L / 100k,680 Litres7$193,500
Porsche Cayenne GTS3.6 L V6 Turbo324kw / 600 Nm10.0 L / 100km670 Litres5$187,700
Range Rover SDV8 Vogue SWB4.4L V8 Diesel250kw / 740 Nm8.4 L / 100km909 Litres5$185,000
Lexus LX 5705.7L V8 NA270kw / 500 Nm14.4 L /100km701 Litres  **8$179,900
BMW X5 M50d3.0L V6 Twin Turbo280Kw / 740Nm6.6 L / 100km690 Litres5$175,500

** Boot Capacity calculated on third row seats being folded away.

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ProsCons
  • Good, powerful engine.
  • Very good brakes, stops on a dime
  • Packed with toys, Climate Concierge, HUD and every offroad feature known to man.
  • Enjoyable to drive, even in Sport with spirited driving.  
  • It’s massive, some could find it hard to gauge its width on the road
  • She ain’t got the looks.
  • Sporty mode, more bumpy than stiff
  • Manual Sunroof Cover
  • Mixed electronic / manual third seats
  • Power boot operation impractical
  • Drinks like a whale
  • A lot of other Vehicles on the market for that money

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What do we think ?

The Lexus LX 570 is not a bad piece of kit, comfy, spacious, and packed with toys. However with a face only a mother could love, and a price to match the hefty Germans, I think I would find it hard pressed to find someone who would actually want to buy this beast over the similar priced options on the market. However, if this is your cup of tea, and want to order one, you may have to wait for over an year, due to international markets pre-orders, according to Lexus.

 

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Rating – Chevron rating 3.5 out of 5

2016 Lexus LX 570

Vehicle TypeFront Engine, AWD Large Luxury SUV
Starting Price$ 179,900 NZD
Tested Price$ 179,900 NZD
Engine5.0L NA V8, , 32-valve Quad Cam with Dual VVT-i
Transmission8-Speed Electronically Controlled Automatic Transmission (Super ECT) with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Sequential Manual Mode
0 – 100 kph7.7 seconds
Kerb Weight3350 kg
Length x Width x Height5080 x 1980 x 1865 mm
Cargo Capacity701 Litres
Fuel Tank93 litres
Fuel Efficiency Combined – 14.4 L/100km
ANCAP Safety RatingsYet to be tested

 

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