The Toyota Land Cruiser is legendary for its prowess as a sport utility vehicle. The Lexus LX 570 is the premium brand's take on that SUV. The new body styling, updated transmission, and roomier interior are high points for 2016 – none of which impede on the offroad capability of this rig.
We gave a thorough week-long test to the 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser and found it to be very much a luxury offroader in its own right.
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Taking that to the next level, the 2016 Lexus LX 570 adds a few Lexus-specific touches and accoutrements that buyers might find will justify the nearly US$10,000 price difference between our test models. Upgraded leather, a driver's heads-up display, and a few options that bump the price like the rear seat entertainment system are some of those upgrades. The LX 570 also rides a bit more smoothly on the highway and has a general air of luxury that befits the Lexus brand.
The LX was created specifically to compete against the Range Rover and Mercedes-Benz G-Series SUVs. In true Toyota/Lexus fashion, it's a far less European take on the luxury ideal than the British and German nameplates, though, aiming for the more plush-conscious American audience the Lexus brand was designed for. Compared to the Rover and Benz models, the LX has a more comfortable highway ride and less emphasis on gadgetry and ambiance. Other notable interior points are the larger, beefier shift knob and the more robust center console found in the Lexus, which hints at rugged longevity – Toyota's hallmark.
Most onlookers will note the extreme exterior makeover that the 2016 LX 570 received. Unlike previous updates to the SUV, the changes this year are very noticeable. The entire body of the LX was redone, giving it a much more contemporary, more rounded look and dispensing entirely with the square-bodied, rough-and-ready build it had before. The headlights are narrower and underscored by the swoosh of the daytime running LEDs now found on most Lexus models. These create the inward angle of the hourglass grille, which now dominates the Lexus LX 570's fascia. The hood is flat, but marked by ridges that carry up from that hourglass to the windscreen.
Along the sides, the 2016 LX 570 has a flat, well-defined beltline that holds over from the previous generation, but which is smoothed by the narrower-appearing greenhouse and more shapely rear end and de-emphasized wheel arches. Although the LX 570 is as all-terrain-ready as it's ever been, it's a much more refined-looking vehicle than it has been in the past. It no longer looks out of place in front of the opera house.
Standard equipment on the Lexus LX 570 is plentiful. The list is long and includes things like height-adjustable, adaptive suspension, load leveling, full LED exterior lighting, automatic wipers, 360-degree surround view cameras, running boards, a roof rack, and a lot more. Inside, the 2016 Lexus LX 570 makes sure you know it's a luxury vehicle with inlay, trim, and leather all working together in lush concert.
The interior is dominated by a 12.3-inch widescreen-style infotainment screen, powered by Lexus Enform and its smartphone-integrated services and apps. That infotainment includes HD radio, satellite radio, and smartphone-based streaming from Pandora, Slacker, Yelp and iHeartRadio.
This is all controlled through the Lexus Remote Touch interface, a mouse-like square knob located to the right of the shifter. It's a very capable system, but it's also clunky and distracting to use. Lexus did raise the wrist pad a bit to alleviate the accidental bumping of the suspension height adjustment knob we had trouble with in the previous generation, but this does little to improve on the mouse-wannabe nature of the setup itself.
Seating in the LX 570 is excellent, with plenty of comfort for the driver and front passenger. The second row is greatly improved this year thanks to the slightly longer build of the LX 570, adding just over an inch and a half (4 cm) to legroom for the second row. The slightly wider bodywork also means a little more shoulder room in those seats. The third row is mainly for children, with low cushions and not a lot of bolster. These seats fold up and to the sides when not in use, which is a throwback to previous generations of the LX that impedes cargo usability more than it should.
Speaking of cargo, good luck getting solid, comparable numbers out of Lexus for the 2016 LX 570. However you measure it, in the real world, it's noticeably smaller than the competition thanks to those up-fold rear seats. We do like the dual-opening rear hatch which can leave a small bottom dutch-like lip for packing groceries in without guessing where the door will seal. This can be lowered when needed to provide a flat loading surface. Both are automated, of course, as standard.
Powering the 2016 Lexus LX 570 is a familiar 5.7-liter V8 that produces 383 horsepower (286 kW) and 403 pound-feet (546 Nm) of torque. A new eight-speed automatic transmission has been paired to that, offering better off-road and towing gearing for the full-time four-wheel drive system. This improved fuel economy a bit, but not as much as might be expected.
The new driver-selectable multi-terrain system (Drive Mode Select) changes shift patterns and suspension to improve offroad performance. We found it a nice touch and enjoyed it in the Land Cruiser as well. This puts the Lexus in the same realm as Range Rover in terms of ease of offroad use. Finally, towing equipment is standard on the LX 570 giving it a capability of up to 7,000 pounds (3,175 kg) of pull.
Fuel economy for the LX 570 is still far below par for the segment, ringing in at 15 mpg combined (13 mpg in the city and 18 mpg on the highway, or 15.6/18/13 l/100km), adding only one point from the previous year. In the real world, we saw about 13.5 mpg all told during our week in the LX.
In everyday driving, we found the 2016 LX 570 to be a classy, though very solid vehicle to drive. The included standards like a 360-degree parking camera view, rear cross-traffic alert, and so on are highly useful in the real world given the LX's bulk. Lexus also includes adaptive cruise control as standard in the LX, but like those we've tried in other vehicles from the brand, it tends to be abrupt and laggy in use. It waits until the last minute and then applies a lot of brake force to slow down before taking a lot of time to decide to begin accelerating again when the slower vehicle is no longer in front. Drivers will likely find themselves taking over manually much of the time. The LX 570 also does not offer self-parking and other features that are found in other makes.
On the road, though, the 2016 LX 570 is very well-balanced. It drives quietly, with the engine making only minimal noise when not pressed, at which point it emits a satisfying grumble. The transmission shifts well and smoothly and the suspension and steering are loose enough to be comfortable, but not so forgiving as to leave occupants floating away from the road's inputs.
Off the road, few can compare to the excellence of the Land Cruiser underpinnings for the LX. Most terrain is almost ignored as the big SUV does its thing, rolling over it as if it were still on pavement. The factory tires are not serious offroad knobbers, though, so mud and deep dirt are probably not agreeable, but in almost any other situation, the LX 570 will get you there as-is.
All told, there are few true sport utilities left on the road today. At least, few that are living up to the tradition of very off-pavement capable sport machines. The LX 570 continues that, with the added credibility of the Lexus' reputation for longevity and reliability. That said, there are a lot of options in the full-sized SUV market and it's worth shopping around.
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