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For those who might think first about rock-crawling ability, second about interior comfort, and lastly about fuel economy, there's the 2014 Lexus LX 570. It's a classic body-on-frame SUV, designed more for the trail than the mall parking lot—even though some only see the latter.
The modern LX 570 shares is 383-hp 5.7-liter V-8 with the Toyota Land Cruiser, along its six-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drive system. It's a solid contender in the off-roading category, and while it drives well in straight lines on the highways, its size and weight aren't friendly to winding roads. It's not easy to maneuver, feels oversized for city streets, and allows the body to roll enough to discourage spirited driving. Gas mileage is legitimately bad, at 12/17 mpg, and there's no alternative drivetrain.
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.
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.
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.
The LX 570 goes essentially unchanged following an overhaul last year, when it received some new gadgets, more luxury, and a version of the "spindle grille" to match the rest of the updated Lexus lineup
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