The LX 570 is a modern relic. In more ways than one, it’s a throwback to the early days of the luxury SUV genre. But interestingly, it’s those very attributes, including a sturdy ladder-frame chassis and a massive, naturally aspirated V8, which endeared it to millions of well-heeled customers who have been loyally sticking to the brand. Amid the onslaught of markedly more modern competition, and faced with the challenge of having to revamp an ageing vehicle customers genuinely loved as it was, Lexus has done the most sensible thing. For the 2016 model, it’s left the robust and capable foundations more or less intact while bringing about sweeping changes in the way it looks and feels. In fact, the carmaker claims the door panels are the only parts of the sheet metal carried over from the previous model.
Whether that’s the case or not, it’s quite apparent that the designers have done a good job concealing the LX’s gargantuan proportions. The revised face with its large, aggressive, one-piece spindle grille and sleek LED headlights, along with the angular, creased profile complete with a kink on the D pillar, and the restyled rear with new LED tail lights and bumpers, make the LX appear less bulky and toned than ever before. Despite being marginally larger in dimensions than the Toyota Land Cruiser, the big Lexus manages to look leaner and more muscular. While the signature spindle grille looked out of proportion in the smaller RX, it looks very much at home here.
Changes are relatively more modest inside. The leather- and wood-trimmed cabin might not look or feel as contemporary as that of many of its rivals’, but it still remains one of the most luxurious and well-appointed 4x4s around. Perched high up on the finely upholstered seats in front of the three-spoke steering wheel, you get a commanding view out, comparable to the one offered by the Range Rover.
The individually tilt- and slide-adjustable second-row seats are also comfortable, and feel less flat and bench-like than before. The same can’t be said, though, of the third row, which could prove intolerably confining for even smaller-than-average adults. Also, with the seats in front folded up, grown-ups will still find clambering in and out an awkward chore. The fact that these seats don’t stow flat into the floor like they do in many other SUVs is a disadvantage as the folded chairs eat into what would have been a massive cargo floor.
New to this model year, and standard across trims, is a new feature called Climate Concierge, which monitors the temperature in the LX’s four separate climate zones, and automatically adjusts fan and temperature settings of the individual zones as well as the seats. There’s also an analogue clock that apparently adjusts the time zone based on GPS data. These features, along with the soft ride, make the cabin a highly enjoyable place to be in.
The LX 570’s 5.7-litre V8 has never left its drivers deprived of power. However, while retaining the same engine, Lexus has ditched the six-speed auto for an eight-speed unit. While it’s still no match for some of its force-fed rivals in terms of acceleration, the Lexus V8 remains arguably one of the smoothest eight-cylinder mills in the segment.
As with the previous model, while globally Lexus rates the LX 570’s engine at 383 horsepower, the units coming to our region seem to have been down-tuned to 362 horsepower. Nevertheless, along with 530Nm of twist, those horses are plenty to haul the nearly three-tonne truck gracefully along. Progress is majestic, and the softly sprung suspension flattens speed bumps and road imperfections, while tyre roar and wind noise are kept at bay thanks to the cabin’s impressive insulation.
If you feel like veering into the wilderness, it’s reassuring to know that the LX shares the Land Cruiser’s legendary off-road prowess, and comes equipped with features like hill-start assist, crawl control and a driver-selectable multi-terrain system. Also new is a Drive Mode Select system that allows you to configure powertrain and suspension settings according to your preferences.
In addition to the array of safety features the LX already had, it gets blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, tyre pressure monitoring, a 360-degree camera and a head-up display.
So, with a raft of comprehensive changes to its design and tech, Lexus has ensured that the LX 570 isn’t relegated to the background as a mere vestige of history. These will be sufficient to retain the loyalty of hardcore fans. But whether they’ll help lure more customers from other brands remains to be seen.