A re­spectable ride

You won’t tread lightly in the favoured mover of the float and boat bri­gade

Herald Sun - Motoring - - PRESTIGE - CHRIS RI­LEY chris.ri­ley@news.com.au

A BIG eight-seat off-road wagon is great for a road trip but we go weak at the knees when petrol V8s and large 4WDs come up in the same sen­tence.

I shud­der when think­ing about the fuel bill for a 2000km round-trip in just such a ve­hi­cle.

The freshly over­hauled Lexus LX 570 now prom­ises to be more fuel ef­fi­cient, thanks mainly to a new eight-speed trans­mis­sion — but be­fore you start cheer­ing, the im­prove­ment is only a mar­ginal 3 per cent.

Just about ev­ery­thing in the LX is new ex­cept the un­der­ly­ing car — only the roof and doors carry over. The styling is con­fronting and the sig­na­ture “spin­dle” grille looks gi­gan­tic, as if the car slammed into a Dalek.

It’s the same 5.7-litre V8 (270kW/530Nm) but the eight­speed au­to­matic is a big im­prove­ment on the pre­vi­ous six-speeder.

Fuel consumption is a claimed 14.4L/100km but it prefers 98 un­leaded. Given the tank’s 138L ca­pac­ity, a fill from dead empty will be about $170.

Drive goes to a full­time 4WD setup with a me­chan­i­cal cen­tre diff. Drive modes in­crease from three to five, in­clud­ing a cus­tom se­lec­tion.

Sport+ pow­ers up the en­gine and al­ters set­tings for steer­ing and sta­bil­ity con­trol.

Vari­able hy­dro-pneu­matic sus­pen­sion min­imises body roll and im­proves ride com­fort.

There’s one model priced from $140,500, with a sole $16,500 op­tion pack.

The wood grain has been di­alled back, dash com­pletely re­designed to slot in a mas­sive 12.3-inch in­fo­tain­ment screen — it’s not touch­screen, how­ever.

The view from the driver’s seat re­de­fines the term “com­mand driv­ing po­si­tion” with sweep­ing views of the road and the ar­ray of knobs, but­tons and switches.

New items in­clude LED head­lights, au­to­matic high beam, head-up dis­play, larger DVD screens for sec­ond-row oc­cu­pants, wire­less charg­ing and apps that work with your smart­phone.

There are 10 airbags and plenty of driver as­sis­tance items — lane de­par­ture warn­ing, adap­tive high beam, head-up dis­play, blind spot mon­i­tor, rear cross traf­fic alert and tyre pres­sure warn­ing. Four cam­eras help you see what’s hap­pen­ing at the cor­ners.

DRIV­ING

There’s no get­ting away from the fact LX 570 is a heavy­weight, at nearly three tonnes, and as such needs to be treated with re­spect.

You can put it in Sport+ and tighten up the steer­ing but its weight and high cen­tre of grav­ity will tell against it. Take a turn too quickly and on comes the un­der­steer — all that mass wants to keep go­ing straight ahead.

Take it easy, put it in com­fort mode and you’ll find life more re­lax­ing, en­joy­ing the scenery from on high.

The ride qual­ity is su­perb for a large 4WD, even if you ven­ture off the bi­tu­men. In fact, this car has few peers off road, apart from the LandCruiser, on which it is based and which has a lit­tle more ground clear­ance.

Things like Crawl Con­trol take all the pain out of the process, guid­ing the car over dif­fi­cult ter­rain at su­per low speeds, with­out the need for any throt­tle or brake in­ter­ven­tion.

There’s even a nifty switch that gets you around tight turns by lock­ing the in­ner rear wheel and en­abling the car to turn on its own (mighty) length.

The thing is, hardly any­one takes th­ese off-road — it’s more about tow­ing the likes of horse floats and large power boats. Braked tow­ing ca­pac­ity re­mains 3500kg.

VER­DICT

You get a lot of car for your money, a ve­hi­cle that’s as good off-road as it is on and it’s still cheaper than Ger­man ri­vals.

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