I wouldn’t want to be the brakes on a Lexus LX 570 sport-ute. Every time I press down on the left pedal, I feel a cringe of empathy for the four binders hauling in 6,000 pounds of steel, leather, fine wood veneers, Mark Levinson surround-sound audio, a center-console storage box that doubles as a fridge, and enough off-roading components to build a mule. Not that I can detect any strain, mind you. It might be huge and heavy, but the 2015 Lexus LX 570 is also one superbly engineered rig. Never does it feel anything less than infinitely comfortable and competent -- those massive ventilated discs included. Not once during my weeklong visit to the Great Lakes State did they so much as squeak in complaint.
The weather during my stay in Ann Arbor was near-perfect spring stuff -- just a few showers here and there to remind me I wasn’t in L.A. anymore. Thus, driving the LX 570 felt like overkill. One look at the console behind the shift lever and you know this brute is ready to rumble. You’ll find an array of switches to control the suspension firmness, select high or low range on the all-wheel-drive system, lock the transfer case, engage the electronic Crawl Control system (which modulates brake and throttle for creeping over especially tough terrain), and more. I tried pushing the LX a bit in a gravel pit I stumbled upon, but it easily surmounted the few mounds of rock I encountered without me so much as flicking one switch. Michigan is simply too flat to utilize the LX’s capabilities (at least without a major blizzard or a 7,000-pound trailer to tow). But after all, the LX 570 is in fact a Toyota Land Cruiser wearing its Sunday best; it can’t really strut its stuff until the going gets rough. Next time I drive one, I’m headed to Moab.
Scratch that: I’m driving the LX again any chance I get. The 383-hp, Lexus 5.7-liter V-8 is all gentility and poise. In concert with the six-speed automatic, it can hustle the big beast to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds. Quiet, too. The suspension creams over most road imperfections. The cabin is conspicuously void of wind noise or road noise or any other irritants that might intrude. The leather is soft and luscious, the room plenteous, the audio system fabulous. Do we really have to stop for lunch?
In a week I drove the 2015 LX 570 all over southeastern Michigan -- from Ann Arbor to Detroit for a Tigers game at Comerica Park (they won in the bottom of the ninth with a walk-off bunt!), out to a lake in the Irish Hills for an afternoon of boating, back and forth to DTW for airport pickups, and way out into the country in a fruitless search for challenging off-road terrain. Often I had four or more passengers along, and even those in back commented on how much they enjoyed the ride. (My test vehicle also included the optional rear-seat DVD entertainment system with screens in back of the front seats -- “Meet the Parents” on the roll.) In a pinch, you can load up with seven riders total: at the flick of a switch, two rear seats automatically fold down from the cargo sides to form a third row. Impressively, with the lift of a single manual lever the second-row seat easily folds up and out of the way for generous third-row access. Yeah, you’re always aware of how large the LX is (when I pulled up next to a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, it looked like a VW Golf), but it doesn’t “drive” big. Even parking is relatively easy, thanks to optional sensors and monitor cameras.
What’s not to like? Not much. Fuel economy is a measly 12/17 city/highway mpg (though with premium fuel going for just $2.80 a gallon in Michigan, even mileage didn’t seem that heinous a drawback). And then there’s the sticker: $90,720 for my tester, including the DVD system, the Mark Levinson audio, a luxury package, and the parking assist system. Hey, you want to drive like you’re staying at the Four Seasons? You got to pay the freight.
Michigan was a lark for the 2015 Lexus LX 570. Moab would be more of a challenge, but I’d like to bring this bad boy to the Serengeti. Let the riders in back catch up on Judd Apatow comedies – laid-back, wearing headphones, A/C cranked up high, drinking cool ones from the fridge -- while from behind the wheel I chase rhinos. The LX is so serene, bet they wouldn’t even notice the oncoming horns.
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