Andrew Muzamhindo Analyst
The Lexus LX 570 is the embodiment of an old-school, full-size SUV. It rides on a truck platform and employs a large V8 engine. It is crafted to command.
This monster was launched in 1996. The current version has been around since 2008 enjoying upgrades over the years.
Now 10 years out from its most significant update, the LX is getting an option that has never been offered before: two rows.
It sounds counterproductive since most SUVs are adding seats. The LX is doing away with them in the name of storage. No longer is the large Lexus able to lug around eight passengers in this trim. Instead, it has room for five, and a whole lot of space for cargo. And I mean a whole lot.
The removal of the backseat adds an extra 164 litres over the standard three-row model; the two-row LX 570 has 1 430 litres of carrying space behind the second row compared to 1 246 litres in the three-row model. It is easily one of the largest-looking cargo holds in any SUV, and it has the ability to squeeze in things like bikes, golf bags, and large luggage all at once. Heck, if you were so inclined, two shorter people could theoretically camp out back there with it completely empty.
Apart from all that additional space, the rest of the interior gains little in the way of updates – but it is still a nice place to be. The seats are cozy, there is plenty of driver and passenger legroom, even for my six-foot frame, and soft, supple leather and real lacquered wood is draped over nearly every inch of the cabin, from the steering wheel to the door panels.
Even with a bunch of buttons scattered along the dash and centre console, the styling is clean and well thought-out, and does not require too much searching to find the right settings.
Like the cabin, the exterior has not seen much of anything in the way of freshening up. The LX adopted a larger version of the Lexus corporate spindle grille with its most recent revamp in 2015, as well as a handful of new features like standard LED headlamps, distinctive 20-inch wheels, large LED taillights, and a split tailgate.
Power comes courtesy of a 5.7-litre V8 putting out 383 horsepower and 546,3 Nm of torque. Paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission, the brawny V8 has enough grunt to move the 2 631 kg SUV down the road with ease; it is not quick, but there is never a lack of power when you need it most. The brakes are pretty good also; even the lightest amount of pressure will stop the behemoth SUV in its tracks.
With a standard integrated tow hitch receiver, it can also tow up to 3 175 kgs, further enhancing its appeal to adventurists. Gas mileage is a below-average 6km per litre in the city and 8km per litre in the highway. This is not for those who budget for fuel.
It makes for a pretty enjoyable, comfortable ride, and with an upright windshield a large greenhouse, it provides good visibility, too.
On-road, the LX maintains most of the same body-on-frame dynamics you would expect in a truck-based SUV: the body sways dramatically in corners, and the roar of the V8 pierces the cabin significantly enough to remind you of its trucks roots.
Thankfully, though, Lexus has softened up the suspension, improved sound dampening compared to a standard truck, and boosted the power steering for easier handling. In a straight line at highway speeds, it makes for a pretty enjoyable, comfortable ride, and with an upright windshield a large greenhouse, it provides good visibility, too.
All-wheel drive comes standard, as does a height-adjustable suspension system that uses electrohydraulic controls to raise or lower the vehicle. A crawl function, and a multi-mode traction control system with dirt, mud, and snow settings, also give the LX the ability to take on tough stuff. Unfortunately, with its large lower fascia, 20-inch wheels, and low-profile tyres, the LX will not be taking on the Rubicon anytime soon. It remains a good feature on-road nonetheless.
As far as trim levels are concerned, Lexus offers its two-row LX in a single upper mid-range package (buyers can still fully stock the three-row model, though). That means you will not be able to get much in the way of options. Still, the SUV is ripe with standard safety features including park assist, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, and a 360-degree camera, as well as amenities like navigation with voice command, Bluetooth, and Siri Eyes Free,
all projected onto a large 12.3-inch tablet-style touchscreen infotainment system that juts up atop the dash.Unfortunately like most Lexus infotainment systems before it, the system is clunky to use while driving, and the controller is overly sensitive.
Lexus also offers complementary access to its Enform App Suite for the first year. The feature allows owners to remotely lock or unlock the vehicle, remote-start or stop the engine and climate control, as well as locate the vehicle in a crowded parking lot on their iPhone or Android device.
The 2018 Lexus LX 570 Two-Row will cost you close to US$200 000 to land it in Zimbabwe. It is more expensive than the crowd favourite Toyota Land Cruiser.