2013 Lexus LX

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Martin Padgett Martin Padgett Editorial Director
April 13, 2012

Buying tip

The LX 570's third-row seats fold in an unusual way. If you carry a lot of cargo frequently, make sure the arrangement works for you.

features & specs

4WD 4-Door
12 city / 17 hwy

A luxurious SUV with limited appeal, the Lexus LX 570 isn't quite at home on the range, or on the interstate.

After a skipped 2012 model year, the 2013 Lexus LX 570 returns with an ever more luxurious interior, some new tech gadgetry, and a front end brought into line with the rest of the latest Lexus lineup. It remains an SUV in the classic mold in that's it's a body-on-frame vehicle, designed first for off-road capability, second for passenger comfort, lastly for fuel economy.

Whether your needs line up with its safari-chic ethic or not, it's worth noting some minor changes for the 2013 model year. The LX was last seen in the 2011 model year with a 5.7-liter V-8, and that's true this year, too. The 383-hp engine and its six-speed automatic and four-wheel drive are shared with the Toyota Land Cruiser, along with its frame construction, which means a high degree of rugged performance. It performs in a straight line well enough, with able passing power and acceleration, but the LX's size and weight are never far out of mind when a corner comes up. It's not maneuverable, feels overwhelming on city streets, and has plenty of body roll to discourage brisk driving. Gas mileage, at 12/17 mpg, is dismal, and there's no diesel option.

It's more usable for the kind of weekend activity that encouraged the SUV craze in the 1990s in the first place. Towing is rated at 7000 pounds, and though Lexus doesn't offer any specific off-road packages, the LX 570 does have high ground clearance, and an available height-adjustable suspension that lifts or lowers the vehicle 2 inches, to pass over obstacles--or better yet, to help entry and exit. Crawl Control also helps in low-speed maneuvers over boulder-strewn paths or scree-strewn hillsides.

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Packaging is one of the LX 570's downfalls as a passenger-carrying device. The seating suggests room for seven, but it can feel quite cramped when more than four adults try to clamber inside the cabin. The front seats are fine, but sit quite high; the second-row bench powers to and fro for more leg room, but the seat itself feels flat. While the second rows fold and flip fully forward to expand cargo space, the third-row seats flip up and rotate to the side—allowing, more easily, a flat, continuous load floor for longer cargo items. The disadvantage to the setup is that the third-row seats can't be completely removed, and they narrow the cargo space.

The LX 570 comes loaded with comfort, convenience, and entertainment features, and there are even more luxury upgrades available to equip the LX 570 at the level of any other prestige-level SUV. Bluetooth and a nav system are included, and from features like a 180-degree camera that can see each way at a blind intersection to power-assist middle-row seats, there's a lot to love in the everyday-useful feature department. And if that's not enough, optional extras include a rear-seat entertainment system, radar-adaptive cruise control, and a 19-speaker Mark Levinson audio system. African Bubinga wood trim, heated and ventilated seats, and custom wheels are also available. This year, the LX 570 joins the connectivity era with an updated Enform system that allows mobile-phone versions of Pandora and Facebook to be controlled through its audio system. It's yet one more of the jarring incongruities of a vehicle that feels out of touch in the Lexus brand.


2013 Lexus LX


Lexus' new front-end styling is grafted on the LX 570's big, brute-ute box to mixed effect.

Massive size and epic proportions give the Lexus LX 570 a look like nothing else in its brand's lineup. This year, designers have tried to paper over differences by grafting on a new corporate grille that's cropped up on everything from the LFA supercar to the ES 350 and GS 350 sedans. It's a catchy hook, but we think, finally, it's met its match here. The hourglass fangs applied to the LX are a mismatch for the LX's bruising two-box outline. The LX may sport a more subtle look than the Land Cruiser, but it's no blank canvas. Some grafts do not take. And usually, a big SUV just wants to look like a big SUV, not like a rev-happy sport sedan.

It gets better inside, where the LX continues its use of high-quality materials in a luxurious yet functional cabin. The instrument panel is upright yet finely detailed, softly contoured, and accented with matte-metallics, and the lavish cabin is trimmed with high-end perforated leather and impressive veneers. It now wears dark-toned metallic trim and mahogany paneling, twinned with "cashmere" leather.

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2013 Lexus LX


Carryover performance from the 2011 model year means ample torque but hefty driving feel in the Lexus LX.

While the Lexus LX 570 receives some styling and infotainment updates for the 2013 model year, the drivetrain's largely been left alone. That means it's still not quite as deft an off-roader as the Toyota Land Cruiser that shares its running gear, and not quite as clever a family hauler as the smaller but more spacious Toyota Highlander.

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'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.

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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.

2013 Lexus LX

Comfort & Quality

The third row is meager, but the front seats have good room, and the LX's cabin has some high-grade finishes.

If you're shopping for an LX 570 based on its passenger seating and cargo-carrying capacity, you may want to investigate further. It's a big ute, for sure, but other SUVs are better at transporting people than this off-road specialist.

The LX 570's seating is distinct from a seven-seat crossover's, and that's both good and bad. The front seats, for example, are generously sized, and covered in perforated leather. They're soft to the touch, but supportive. Getting into them may take a try or two: the LX 570 requires a tremendous step up into the cabin, since its ride height is engineered to overcome off-road obstacles. It does offer optional ride-height control that can lower it about 2 inches for easier entry and exit. It also has added "Easy Access" features for 2013 that include automatic retraction for the power-telescoping steering wheel, and automatic pushback for the driver seat, for more entry and exit space.

The second-row seat also has power assists to make the most of its high-riding bench seat. The three-person bench has a power-sliding function that moves it on a 3.5-inch track, to increase leg room or cargo space as the need arises. The second row seats are considerably more adult-sized—although a little flat. The seatbacks also are split 40/20/40, so that they can be folded down to accommodate a mix of passengers and cargo. The second row seat is specially engineered to make tumbling it forward easy for anyone.

As is typical, the power-folding third-row seat is hard to get to, and it's quite cramped. While the second rows fold and flip fully forward to expand cargo space, the third-row seats flip up and rotate to the side—allowing, more easily, a flat, continuous load floor for longer cargo items. The disadvantage to the setup is that the third-row seats can't be completely removed, which narrows that available cargo space. The split rear tailgate features a power upper door, while the bottom section raises and lowers with minimal effort.

The LX 570 cabin remains tight and quiet, with low levels of road and wind noise, though the bellowing engine isn't hushed up to Lexus levels of refinement and can be heard even when cruising in some situations.

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2013 Lexus LX


No crash tests have been performed, but the LX's sheer bulk protects its passengers.

With no safety ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) for either the Lexus LX 570 or its structural twin, the Toyota Land Cruiser, we've assigned it a safety score based on its standard features and its SUV bulk.

No key safety features are skipped in the LX 570's standard equipment list, from a total of ten airbags, to stability control with off-roading modes, to active head restraints. A rearview camera is included in every model; an optional 180-degree front-end camera helps relieve some of the anxiety caused by the LX's tall, very flat front end.

As before, Lexus' Enform connectivity system with Bluetooth is standard, and now connects mobile apps to the SUV's audio system for what is claimed to be safer operation on the go. Safety Connect is also standard: it includes emergency notification services, and comes with a free year of service.

The one serious issue with the LX 570's safety remains outward visibility; because of its high stance and rear roofline, you might get a good view out ahead but spotting vehicles just to the side or behind, for parking or lane changes, can be challenging. Large mirrors, front and rear obstacle sensors, and those front and rearview cameras help offset the loss.

2013 Lexus LX


Lexus' Remote Touch is absent, but Entune connects mobile apps to its high-end audio system.

Loaded with convenience and luxury features like every other Lexus, LX 570 sport-utility vehicles gain more connectivity for the 2013 model year, though they're missing one major update applied across the rest of the lineup.

The Remote Touch mouse-like controller that runs infotainment in nearly every other Lexus doesn't make the cut in the 2013 LX 570, but mobile apps do. Now, through Lexus' Enform connectivity suite, mobile phones and apps like Pandora and Stitcher can be operated through the LX 570's LCD touchscreen, or by voice commands.

Those dual functions are enabled by standard navigation and Bluetooth with audio streaming. The LX 570 also has standard four-zone climate control; satellite radio; and a power-assisted middle-row bench seat.

If that's not enough, optional extras include a 180-degree front camera to assist with the LX's sheer bulk; radar-adaptive cruise control; and a 19-speaker Mark Levinson audio system. African Bubinga wood trim, heated and ventilated seats, and custom wheels are also available. A Luxury Package also adds on semi-aniline leather upholstery; a heated steering wheel; heated and ventilated front seats; heated second-row seats; and Smart Access keyless entry with pushbutton start.

Lastly, a new dual-screen entertainment system for the back two rows offers wireless headphones and dual sourcing--which means users can run both a gaming console and a DVD player on the system at the same time, for example.

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2013 Lexus LX

Fuel Economy

Greenies beware: few vehicles match the Lexus LX 570's appetite for gas.

The Lexus LX 570 is one of the biggest SUVs on the planet--and it's been around in its neanderthal form, as the Toyota Land Cruiser, for a very long time. That doesn't make its coexistence with the Toyota Prius and Lexus CT 200h any easier, though at least Toyota can reasonably argue that it covers every niche in the market.

With the LX, it covers the rock bottom of the SUV market, in terms of fuel economy, undercut only by a handful of supercars and ultra-high-performance SUV derivatives. The LX 570 is rated by the EPA at 12 miles per gallon city, 17 mpg highway. That puts it near the top of the EPA's Carbon Footprint scale, and—based on our assumption that the majority of energy used during a vehicle's service life will be used through the tailpipe—makes it one of the least green choices you could make, of any vehicle sold in the U.S. today.

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