2021 Lexus LX 570 Review: Bold, brash, and lovable
Why the strengths of this antique still outweigh the obvious flaws
It's 2021 and relics like the Lexus LX 570 have no business existing. By modern standards it's a terrible vehicle by all accounts, being too large, heavy, and woefully inefficient. Perhaps it should have been put to pasture even a decade ago as the aging brute continues to ignore all self-respect. However, I love the LX 570. Despite all circumstance, the LX is a derelict instrument that is impossible to not adore and serves as a reminder of what component is so sorely lacking in numerous other new vehicles: character. The LX exudes more character and verve than it drinks gasoline, and be assured, it is a very heavy drinker.
I want to start by getting all the ugly out of the way first so we can then talk about what makes the big LX so enigmatic. It's thirsty, yes; it could keep pace shot for shot with Keith Richards even. The 5.7L V8 is a product of the mid-2000s and is essentially unchanged since its debut. Consuming gasoline at a rate of 13 MPG overall and 18 on the highway in my testing, it's the worst nightmare of a Prius. Even with a big 'ol V8 and a modern eight-speed automatic, physics cannot be beaten and its shear mass means acceleration is slow. And by slow I mean 0-60 MPH in 7.3 seconds. Brake feel is decent and has ample stopping power, but a simulated panic stop induced lots of nose dive and pitch in the body and some steering input to keep it in line. It's a lot of weight to manage no matter how you look at it.
Though, you must be able to afford all that gas given this SUVs astronomical price tag of $106,590 as-tested. While it starts under $90k, this example had a number of options to breach the century mark, most notably a pricey $6,100 sport package (this car isn't sporty in the slightest lol) that includes 21" wheels and some front and rear spoilers, and a bangin' Mark Levinson stereo for $2,350. In the spirit of excess for the sake of excess, Lexus' LX 570 tips the scales at over 6,000 ready to roll, partly owed to the traditional body on frame construction for all its rugged durability. There's more, too. Handling nor are any synonyms of its like are in the vocabulary of the LX. The steering is slow and hefty, both traits that are out of style among other new vehicles, and is quite vague, so you better get used to a wandering attitude on most roads. Interestingly, the steering is just as good off-road as it is on-road. Old-school architecture equals old-school truck characteristics, no surprise there.
Because it's 2021, there are some expectancies of the LX despite the apparent age of its underpinnings and design. Luckily, amenities and safety features like blind spot monitoring (and other safety bits) and surround view cameras all make an appearance. Lexus has done well to implement the latest technology in this classical creation. Though, a few things fall short, an infotainment/center display screen with graphics that look like Obama just got sworn in for his second term. There are even rear seat entertainment screens, which are a cool touch and all, but wholly unnecessary in the age of the iPad and other tablets that most kids seem to have. But, most importantly, the infestation that is the infotainment system has to be eradicated. While other new Lexus models have a mousepad that is only slightly less bad, this monstrosity of an overly-sensitive joystick to control all aspects of the screen is nothing less than atrocious. I found myself using it as little as possible, and each time I did it made me wish I had a xanax to ease the anxiety and frustration. At least the screen is large and fairly crisp even if the graphics and interface is quite old; think iOS 6 and the classic icons verse newer iterations. So, there you have it, all the main issues with the LX. Now, for the reasons why I love it.
For starters, It's a magician of off-road proportions. Like really, what the LX can do in the dirt and sticks is nothing short of breathtaking. However, it's not just what it can do, but rather it's how it does and goes about it. When it comes to off-roaders, it's hard to not the raise the army of keyboard-warriors antagonizing you with such bullocks such as "my Honda Civic can do that" or whatever type of rubbish they can muster in the midst of their self-righteous adrenaline-induced drooling and mouth-breathing. Yes, you can take any car off-road and through the mud and over rocks, but you're torturing it and it will break. The LX, though, you can do just about anything in it with the security of a nuclear bunker. You can also go about your business on the trails without even spilling your Starbucks or Dutch Bros.
On the center console you'll find an array of switches to all take advantage of the systems available to LX owners. What kind of controls do you get? Oh you know, the usual array of ride height controls, terrain controls, center differential locker, crawl modes with speed selection, second-gear start function, AWD control including a 4Low, and tight-turn assist. Oh that's right, systems such as those are highly unusual and form the basis of the LX's party tricks. There's more that you can do than can't with an LX at your disposal. So, I decided to be more adventurous in my driving and took several dirt paths straying from pavement because, "well, why not? Lexus time!" Following a trail through some grassy fields, I was able to comfortably drive the Lexus at 20 MPH and you would never have known it was pavement. Stopping for some photos, the ground wasn't even smooth, but I would never have known otherwise. Even with some bumps the LX just pummels the earth away into submission and completely keeps its occupants isolated in that mesmerizing interior. It's such a shame that most owners will make their examples into nothing short of pavement queens.
There's a stretch of road that connects two different segments of Latrobe Rd in El Dorado Hills and Rancho Murieta. Known as '7 Mile,' the tarmac transitions to a mix of dirt and gravel before devolving into a small off-road terrain course with mud puddles and rocks and hills to play with at your choosing. Again, most cars could make it across 7 Mile, but it's how easy the LX does it that separates from other SUVs that aren't Range Rovers. The comfort is stupendous even over bumps at a moderate speed. I tried my hand at a couple mud puddles and with 4Low engaged it was so undramatic that I had to do it again. I was expecting to fight at the wheel as the tires sunk into the mud, but no, just tracked straight and true. It's almost too easy. The steering wheel remains so composed too and vibration free over rough roads, even as the gravel turns to larger fragments and the road turns to a coarse washboard surface. Really, this is amazing and left me speechless how unfazed the LX was by all this. If you have an LX or the smaller GX and do not use it off-road, you're missing out at a true engineering marvel. The only things that could be better is overall ground clearance, as even with the suspension raised, the overhangs could cause issues, exacerbated further by the front spoiler on this specific example. If you want a dedicated rock-crawler, a Wrangler will always be the way to go, but of course a Wrangler is still a Wrangler and feels like a economy car in comparison and drives like it's 1944 in occupied-France still.
Quality is defined expertly by the lavish and leather-filled interior space of the big Lexus. Almost everything you look and feel comes courtesy of a cow's hide, and is delectable to the touch. There's even some appreciable metal trim here and there. Especially when venturing through the dirt and over rocks is when you really appreciate the bank-vault aptitude of the cabin, because it simply does not rattle nor creak. This tank is tight; you get the impression it could do stunts in the next Fast and Furious film and not need any modifications whatsoever and still be this tight and together all around. Seats are wonderful to spend time in and caress you nicely. The rear chairs are likewise comfortable if not providing the last word in leg room that I would have expected in such an immense vehicle. The wood trim scattered about is classy rather than tacky, and the third row can be stowed or deployed electronically, though be careful on the order as I was able to accidentally make the electric motor try to decapitate the head restraint. Oh yes, there's also a cool in the center console for your San Pellegrino. It's just such a nice environment to be in and for long hauls of time, too. On the motorway, the LX 570 is remarkably quiet inside despite the aerodynamic properties of a cinder block.
However, there are a few curiosities abound such as aging switchgear and a couple out-of-place plastics that feel borrowed from the corporate Toyota parts bin. The entire cabin does appear to be of an older design, but I rather like the throwback nature of it and the uncompromising commitment to being screwed together with NASA precision. It just might be the most isolating interior of any new car today bar perhaps a ridiculously expensive Rolls Royce Cullinan SUV, just because how it keeps you away from the outside world even when adventuring across cheese grater-like dirt and gravel roads.
There's lots wrong with the Lexus, mainly the thirsty nature, terrible infotainment, plus the shocking price tag as fitted, but there's also so much to like - love even. And it's when using the LX the way it was designed to be used - effortlessly cruising in the comfort of that amazing interior when off-roading - all those other bits seem to not matter and only makes you smile when commandeering this Nimitz class vessel. The split tailgate even baited myself and a couple friends to get takeout dinner and use it for tailgating and hanging out. Despite all there is to loathe, it's love that comes out on top.
There aren't many other vehicles that can do what the LX does, and they all have even huger price tags. A BMW X5 or Audi Q7 are insanely more modern vehicles, and better to live with day-in-day-out, but they're not suited to the same heavy exposure from the elements when you go off-road and will also not be remotely happy out there. The obvious most direct rival currently is Britain's Range Rover. Though, there is one rival due to hit next year, and will likely render the LX 570 beyond obsolete: the Hummer EV SUV which will cost about same as this Lexus. I like the LX 570 a lot, and I'm glad brutish things like this still exist while they can because of the joy the can be realised.
2021 Lexus LX 570
As-tested price: $106,590
The Road Beat Rating: 4/5
Pros: Go just about anywhere in total comfort; Character
Con: Heavy; Expensive: Thirsty; Aging
Verdict: In light of the flaws, the LX is still a compelling old brute
Weight about 6,000 pounds