A respectable ride
You won’t tread lightly in the favoured mover of the float and boat brigade
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.
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.
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.