One Week With the 2020 Lexus LX 570
As far as luxury body-on-frame family SUVs go, the Lexus LX 570 sits toward the top of the lineup in terms of capability. In terms of technology and design? Not so much. Just when you thought the enormous grille couldn’t get any bigger, it grew. And because the current generation debuted in 2007 (the year I graduated from high school), the technology and packaging are pretty old. Still, the 2020 Lexus LX 570 can go where most SUVs can’t. And that’s a big deal.
For the 2020 model year, Lexus launched a new Sport package, the contents of which are difficult to spot. Available only for the three-row model, the package adds a slightly different grille and front fascia, while the side-view mirrors have body color and chrome accents. Inside, a new black headliner dresses up the cabin. Other than those details, the Lexus LX 570 continues to be the same SUV we drove two years ago during our off-road SUV comparison, still sharing its platform and powertrain with the Toyota Land Cruiser.
2020 Lexus LX 570: Inside
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Enter the LX’s cabin, and right away you’ll feel a sense of luxury. It’s clear that this is Lexus’ flagship SUV; from the wood to the leather to the big screen, you feel like you’re somewhere special. But look deeper and those feelings diminish. Starting from the driver’s seat, the small screen on the instrument panel looks like it’s a decade old. The LCD screen shows vital info to the driver, but in the days of digital cockpits and full displays, the small screen and the analog speedo and tach seem out of place in a flagship SUV.
The disappointment continues in the infotainment system. Its aging graphics are only amplified by the remote touch interface, which acts like a mouse for the infotainment. The system is so sensitive that it’s always hard to land in the place you want. What’s more frustrating is trying to use the navigation system, which lacks voice controls and requires the driver to input the address step by step. The absence of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto makes these shortcomings particularly frustrating, especially in an SUV that starts at nearly $90,000.
Although we really appreciate the wide center console (after all, you’re driving a truck), there are some things that could improve. The thick shifter and remote touch interface take up too much space, which causes the cup holders to be placed right by the AC controls. Although that might not sound bad, it is when large cups block the switchgear. One thing I’m a big fan of is the deep storage in the center console. Besides providing enough space for an iPad Mini, it’s also a refrigerator, which can keep food and drinks cold when driving on the trail—something that proved useful during our week driving it.
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Like the front of the cabin, the second row expresses plushness. Two individual screens located on the back of the front headrests provide rear-seat occupants with more entertainment. But like the front, the screens are hard to control. The displays are sort of designed to be used as touch screens, but you’ll have no luck poking around. Instead, a remote control takes care of everything, and there’s only one remote for both screens, something kids would have a hard time with. What’s more, the screens cost $2,005, which is more—way more—than buying two iPads. Entertainment aside, the backseat is a nice place to ride, as there is plenty of legroom and headroom.
The third row should only be used by children, as the high floor severely limits legroom. Instead of folding forward, each seat folds toward the windows, consuming precious cargo room. What’s remarkable, however, is that the seats can fold with the push of a button.
2020 Lexus LX 570: The Drive
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To move a beast like this, a big engine is needed. A 5.7-liter V-8 makes 383 hp and 403 lb-ft of torque, sending that power to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. Although that sounds like a lot of power, we wish it had more punch, as the LX struggles when passing on a two-lane highway. While it doesn’t feel slow from the start, it feels sluggish when going from 50-70 mph. The transmission shifts smoothly, but it’s always hunting for the highest gear. The big nose dive under braking is what bothered me the most, as it was noticeable on city streets and on the trail.
The hydraulic load-leveling coil-sprung suspension delivered a phenomenal ride, and as you can expect, almost every bump on the street is well absorbed. Body roll, however, is pretty noticeable. But when you’re buying an SUV with these proportions, you’re not expecting it to handle like a racecar in the corners. The steering is also well-balanced and provides a lot of feedback; you clearly feel like you’re driving a truck. The cabin is mostly quiet in general, but the 20-inch tires make a lot of noise that gets into the cabin; wind noise, however, is minimal.
Still, the LX feels like an old horse, and when you compare it to other SUVs this size—like the Lincoln Navigator, Land Rover Range Rover and even the Infiniti QX80, the Lexus feels as elderly as a fossil.
Off the pavement, the LX is in its natural habitat. During a quick day trip to Jawbone Canyon, about two hours north of Los Angeles, the LX showed its capability. The low-end torque helps it climb steep hills and easily pass obstacles, and though it has a robust four-wheel drive system, I stayed in 2WD all the time. Fair to say, though, the trail wasn’t as challenging as Coyote Flats, where we drove the LX last time. With the hydraulic height adjusters cranked all the way up, the truck never dragged its belly.
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2020 Lexus LX 570: Value
It’s hard to give any points to the LX in terms of value. When the starting price is above $90,000 and the platform is a decade old, it’s hard to justify anything. Our 2020 Lexus LX 570 crossed the checkout counter at $103,050 after adding more than $10,000 in options. Although you might not care as much about fuel economy when you buy a big rig like this, the Navigator is more fuel-efficient and cheaper than the LX. But if you’re planning to go to the trails quite often, the LX will deliver with style.
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