Reviews

2014 Lexus LX 570 Walk Around

The most noticeable feature of the 2014 LX 570 is its recently-introduced spindle grille, which visually unites the upper and lower air openings into a single wide-hourglass shape (like, we suppose, the cross-section of a pulley or spindle). The grille unifies the look of all Lexus models, as the others have adopted it. A horizontal bumper bar is present, but recesses slightly into the spindle-shaped opening, so the grille and not the bumper is by far the front end's dominant visual device.

On some Lexus models, the grille change has been dramatic. Less so on the LX 570. The face it wore for the previous five years included an inverted-trapezoid grille above the bumper and a fairly prominent rectangular air slot below it. With 20/20 hindsight, one can almost see the spindle-grille struggling to suck in the bumper and thrust itself out. The fact that the grille texture hasn't changed all that much adds to a feeling of evolution rather than revolution. Four bright horizontal bars still support the big Circle-L in the upper grille, and the two previously dark horizontal bars below the bumper are now bright. The headlight clusters have changed little, if at all, in shape. However, the projector-beam lamps and LED running lights inside them seem more sharply defined, and the foglamp recesses are now deeper and more consciously chiseled.

Adopting the current face added about half an inch of length and sacrificed some off-road utility, tightening the previous approach angle from 29 degrees and 31 degrees with the suspension in the Normal and High positions, to 25 and 27 degrees, respectively.

Otherwise, behind the LX 570 face is basically the same old box as before. For 2013, wider body side moldings visually flattened the body sides, but Lexus said the actual sheet metal hadn't changed. Broad mirrors, pronounced wheel arches and a wide stance combine to suggest a muscular character. A chrome accent highlights the rear bumper protector.

The LX 570 still looks bigger than it is. Bumper-to-bumper, it's almost exactly the same length as the latest Range Rover, while riding on a shorter wheelbase. Perhaps not as distinctive as the Range Rover, the Lexus design strikes us as clean and timeless in a uniquely Japanese way. We especially like the 20-inch wheels with their five split spokes and Liquid Graphite finish; they look far richer than the rather unimaginative 10-spoke pattern used previously.

Interior

The cabin of the Lexus LX reflects Japanese ideas of simplicity, strict attention to detail, and functionality as a form of luxury. New colors and surfaces have kept the design fresh.

There are two standard leather colors to choose from: Black or Parchment. Both come with mahogany wood trim. The difference in atmosphere is dramatic: Black suggests a dark, cozy, intimate den; Parchment, a bright and cheery sunroom. Either way, the detail work on the leather, trim panels and dash area is in keeping with Lexus standards. Stitching on the seats is conspicuously uniform and stands up to focused inspection. The Luxury Package upgrades to semi-aniline leather, and extends the mahogany trim to the inside door switch plates.

Features and controls consistent with high-end luxury sedans are built into the cockpit area, which is designed with a minimum of clutter. This is partly accomplished by mounting the phone, navigation, and audio controls on the steering wheel, along with controls for the information display. There's more brightwork on the dash than in the past, but it's darker in tone and still used judiciously.

The instrument panel is built around two large, brightly lit dial gauges: speedometer and tachometer. Between the two are four smaller dials for fuel, coolant temperature, voltage, and oil pressure. At the top of the center stack, a Thin Film Transistor (TFT) color multi-information display indicates steering wheel angle, digital speed, turn-by-turn navigation, and Multi-Terrain mode, in addition to outside temperature, current mpg, mpg since refueling, cruise range, miles driven since start, and tire pressure information. The display also shows height setting and warning messages as they apply. Again, visual simplicity is achieved.

The front seats are roomy, supportive and widely adjustable. The driver's seat adjusts 10 ways, and the passenger seat 8 ways, including lumbar support. The standard Easy Access system automatically retracts the steering wheel and driver's seat when the ignition is turned off.

The center console lids function as armrests, and can be extended to work with different driving positions. Taller drivers will appreciate that front leg room is a priority. There's almost 43 inches of legroom at the front, with generous shoulder and hip room. Even with the moonroof, headroom exceeds 38 inches for the first two rows.

Built into the interior are 10 airbags, including two knee airbags. A roll-sensing curtain airbag is designed to protect all three rows, and second-row passengers also have separate seat-mounted side airbags. All eight seats have three-point seatbelt systems. Active headrests are standard on the front seats. In the event of a rear-end collision, the headrests automatically tilt forward to limit the chance of whiplash injuries.

Like a lot of large SUVs, entry into the cabin does require a big first step. We tended to use the sturdy grab handles to swing up and into the front. Third-row entry is made easier by use of a touch-and-tumble seat on the right side. It's still a bit of a crawl for adults to move into the back, but the rear seating area is surprisingly accommodating, at least for two adults. In real life, the third row will seat three adults best if the middle passenger likes to cuddle.

Two- and three-zone climate control systems are common in large cars and SUVs these days, but the Lexus LX has separate climate controls for four zones, so people in the first and second rows can dial in their own air flow volume and temperature. A total of 28 vents distribute air flow. The blower has seven levels, and a micro dust and pollen filter conditions the incoming air.

XM Traffic Radio, which selects the least crowded route to a destination, is included in the standard audio system. The Mark Levinson option provides an upgrade equal to any automotive audio we know of. A hard drive offers 30 gigabytes for music storage, playable through 19 speakers that generate true surround sound. The system is compelling and memorable.

The LX bias leans toward carrying people, and keeping them comfortable. But for those occasions when bulky cargo is the order of the day, the rear seats fold out of the way to create 83.1 cubic feet of cargo area. The rear hatch opens using the key fob; the tailgate opens manually via a lever atop the tailgate. For groceries or other everyday uses, the 15-cubic-foot area behind the third row is sufficient. The third-row seats split 50/50 and stow against the side of the cabin, creating 41 cubic feet.

Cubby storage for the driver comes up short, a disappointing shortcoming for a large vehicle. There's nowhere to put anything on the center console: no place for a cell phone, keys, sunglasses case, or wallet.

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