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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
truck suspension pitches and heaves constantly
self-adjusting shock absorbers do little to enhance ride quality
the 2010 Lexus LX 570 handles exceptionally well
Mechanically speaking, little has changed under all of that sheetmetal. The LX is a capable off-roader, though not quite as rugged as the Land Cruiser, and it works as a family hauler, but perhaps not quite as gracefully as a Toyota Highlander.
The LX's body-on-frame construction--which implies off-road expertise and long-term durability--and its four-wheel drive system tax any ability to deliver remotely carlike responses. The 4WD system uses a Torsen limited-slip locking center differential to split power 40:60, front to rear. That's great for trail-riding, but the LX doesn't feel maneuverable at all in city driving, and there's not a lot of cornering grip dialed into its suspension and tire choices. Instead, there's plenty of body motion and roll, and very little response to be elicited from its steering. The LX rides softly, and there's secondary heaving after impacts, which can be more fatiguing than controlled choppiness on rough surfaces.
A conflicted performer with lots of exotic electronic hardware, the LX 570 gets its power from a 5.7-liter V-8 making 383 horsepower and 403 pound-feet of torque. It's an engine that's also found in the Land Cruiser and in the Toyota Tundra, and in this 6,000-pound vehicle, it's a decent performer, though never far removed from its heft. It carries plenty of bulk, but the engine and its teammate, a six-speed automatic transmission, work well enough together to produce useful passing power and acceleration.The LX can tow up to 7000 pounds, though Lexus seems to be openly discouraging serious off-roading treks by not offering any off-road options or accessories. The LX does have a high ground clearance, and available active height control, which can raise the body a couple of inches at slower speeds to aid ground clearance, then lower it at higher speeds to reduce aerodynamic drag. Crawl Control also helps in low-speed maneuvers over boulder-strewn paths or scree-strewn hillsides. This year, Crawl Control's programming has been optimized, and torque-vectoring brakes have been added--they clamp down on the inside rear wheel in a corner to tighten the line. Lastly, Lexus has added a five-mode terrain control system that lets driver choose traction management by the kind of territory they're traversing--be it sand, snow, mud, rocks, or streets.
The Lexus LX drives like a big, ponderous SUV--which it is--but its off-road gear is slick.