Something important happened between the time I drove the 2021 Lexus LX 570 and the time I sat down to write this review: Lexus revealed its replacement. The 2022 LX 600, based on the new 300-Series Toyota Land Cruiser, will be the only way to score the new version of that off-road legend here in the United States, a fact that's sure to send plenty of buyers who previously purchased Land Crushers into the soothing showrooms of Lexus dealerships in America. Up 'til now, the LX was the fancy Land Cruiser; nowadays, it's the only Land Cruiser.
We all knew there was a new LX coming, of course, and we even had a fairly good sense of what it would likely be like before Toyota even revealed the new Land Cruiser. But now that we've actually seen what it's bringing to the table, it's easier to place the outgoing model in context. Most of us will probably want to wait for the new version...but for those who prefer tried-and-true to new-and-flashy from their luxury cars, the LX 570 still packs plenty of appeal.
Is the Lexus LX 570 new?
To quote Edna Krabappel, ha! The current 200-Series LX first arrived on the scene back in 2007, debuting at the New York Auto Show the same week the Shia LaBoeuf movie Disturbia hit theaters and Akon's "Don't Matter" topped the Billboard 100. Since then, it's received not one, not two, but three facelifts that updated the looks inside and out, but the mechanicals have remained the same: a 5.7-liter V8 and full-time four-wheel-drive. (The automatic gearbox did receive an extra two cogs along the way, jumping from six speeds to eight.)
What makes this Lexus special?
Well, for starters, it packs just about everything that makes the Land Cruiser special: incredible reliability (remember, Land Cruisers are 12 times more likely to reach 200,000 miles than the average car), impressive off-road capability, a capacious interior and a comfortable ride, just for starters. The Lexus version builds on that mostly by adding a dash more finery inside, as well as a mug so intimidating, it just might make left-lane slowpokes piss themselves when they see it in the rear view mirror.
Imperious wouldn't be too strong of a word. It's an old-school body-on-frame SUV designed to soak up the worst the ground can throw at you, be it potholes or muddy trails or minor boulders. On the highway, it cruises along serenely at any speed, even if the naturally-aspirated 383-horsepower engine takes its sweet time (by today's absurd performance standards) to get you there. It's quick enough to deal with traffic, but it's hardly sport.
Not that it doesn't seem to occasionally suggest otherwise. The drive mode controller, hilariously enough, has both Sport and Sport+ modes, but neither really does all that much; the ride stiffens up slightly and the gearbox holds lower gears longer, but you'll never confuse it with, say, a BMW X5 M. And the 5.7-liter V8's roar under full throttle is the sort of smile-inducing noise that makes you sad that such engines' days in mass-produced vehicles are likely numbered.
The LX, after all, is not meant to entertain its driver on pavement; it's meant to impress once the road evaporates. I didn't have a chance to send it up Hell's Revenge or down the Rubicon Trail, but I did manage to find a very short off-road course that led to a hidden trailhead in Vermont that would have scared off most crossover drivers. Not surprisingly, the LX hopped through the mud, along the divots and over the rocks with the ease of a hiker in those new Allbirds. The LX 570 is the sort of SUV that you'd feel comfortable driving just about anywhere, under just about any conditions — neither rain nor snow nor sleet nor anything short of a tornado will keep you from getting where you need to go. Which, let's face it, is a big part of the appeal of driving an giant SUV.
Like a blast from the past. Upon climbing into the LX 570 for the first time, I went through my usual new-test-car ritual: repositioning the seat, steering wheel and mirrors, setting my radio presets, plugging in my iPhone and setting up Apple CarPlay...only to find myself stymied at that step, because the LX 570 doesn't have Apple CarPlay. It's one of the few cars left on sale today that don't — and not because, like Tesla and Rivian, they have a corporate desire to avoid it, but just because the damn truck is so old. (Again, perspective: when Lexus launched the LX 570, the iPhone hadn't even gone on sale yet.)
That alone might be enough reason to wait for the LX 600 for some; after all, the LX 570's infotainment system is hardly best-in-class (although thankfully, it integrates touchscreen tech in addition to Lexus's accursed targeting reticule touchpad), and smartphone integration remains one of the biggest breakthroughs in in-car navigation since, well, digital in-car navigation. But if you prefer paper maps and CDs to Google Maps and Spotify (oh, yes, the LX still has a CD player), you likely won't mind the setup once you get used to it.
One feature that I certainly won't complain about: the plethora of physical buttons. Sure, they're a little busy in places — the mess of buttons, knobs and toggles below the shift lever looks straight out of a 747 — but there's no worrying about diving into digital menus and submenus to change drive settings, climate control functions, or volume or music channel. Indeed, once you've set your radio presets, you might only need to use the infotainment screen once in a blue moon.
On the comfort and space side, there's little to complain about, as you'd expect from a Lexus with a price tag closing in on six figures. The seats are supportive and pleasant even on a six-hour drive, and there's plenty of room to spread out. Of course, all that only applies to the first two rows, not the token fold-away third one that's practically a throwback to the days of jump seats; folded up, they take up an unpleasant chunk of the cargo bay, while folded down, they're only good for small people and short trips. Lexus offers the LX 57o in two-row, five-passenger form as well; I highly recommend taking them up on that.
That largely depends on which trait you're more interested in judging the LX on: its size or its capability. If it's the former, and you just want a full-size luxury SUV, you'd be wise to cross-shop against the Cadillac Escalade, the Lincoln Navigator, the Jeep Grand Wagoneer, the Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class, the BMW X7...and, I suppose, the Infiniti QX80. If you're more interested in the latter, though — in having a high-end sport-ute that can handle serious off-roading — you're better off looking at the likes of a Land Rover or Range Rover, or even the LX's smaller brethren, the GX 460.
Or, of course, you could just wait for the 2022 LX 600.
Base Price: $88,275
Powertrain: 5.7-liter V8; eight-speed automatic; full-time four-wheel-drive
Torque: 403 lb-ft
EPA Fuel Economy: 12 mpg city, 16 mpg highway
Seats: Four to seven, realistically
All the off-road prowess you expect, now with added elegance and on-road pleasure.