2021 Lexus LX 570 review: An off-road champ, but tough to recommend

Hope you like grille.

Emme Hall/Roadshow

The Lexus LX 570 is essentially a gussied-up Toyota Land Cruiser, so it has some great off-road chops. But while the Land Cruiser has this intrinsic cool factor — even more so with 2020’s Heritage Edition — the LX 570 just feels, well, old.

LikeExcellent off-road capabilityHigh-quality interiorLots of standard features

Don’t LikePoor fuel economyHorrible infotainment tech

The LX 570 competes in the crowded full-size SUV segment, and uses old-school, body-on-frame architecture with full-time all-wheel drive. Only one powertrain is available, consisting of a naturally aspirated, 5.7-liter V8 mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Even with 383 horsepower and 403 pound-feet of torque on tap, the LX 570 isn’t exactly quick. This is a big, 6,100-pound SUV, and it takes 7.3 seconds to hit 60 mph. A full-size Mercedes-Benz GLS450, on the other hand, has less power and torque, but thanks to turbocharging and mild-hybrid technology, it can sprint to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds all while returning better fuel efficiency.

On that note, the EPA gives the 2021 LX 570 ratings of 12 miles per gallon city, 16 mpg highway and 14 mpg combined. The GLS450 returns 19 city, 23 highway and 21 combined, and even more powerful competitors like the Land Rover Range Rover and Lincoln Navigator do slightly better, both returning 16 city, 21 highway and 18 combined. During a week of testing, my LX 570 is only averaging 13.6 mpg.

The LX’s highway ride is mostly smooth but it’s easily upset by bumpy pavement. Perhaps the most disconcerting part of the driving experience is the steering, which feels heavy (yay!) but very numb (boo!). The lack of on-center steering feel means I’m constantly making small corrections just to stay in a straight line.

The LX is available with two or three rows of seats.

Emme Hall/Roadshow

I know owners aren’t going to run the Lexus LX 570 through the canyons like they would in a sports car, but the company provides its SUV Sport and Sport Plus modes to change up the throttle and transmission parameters. Even when dialed into Sport Plus, the steering is still vague and there is a ton of body motion. The good news is that the eight-speed transmission shifts nicely in the background, not drawing any attention to itself.

Thankfully, there are several standard driving aids, and the adaptive cruise control does a nice job of slowing the LX down once I hit traffic. Unfortunately, the low-speed modulation of the adaptive cruise control is awful. The LX slams on the brakes and stops abruptly, to the point where I’d rather just drive with this tech off.

All things considered, the LX 570 is far worse to drive on-road than pretty much any other full-size luxury SUV. But it at least can excel off the beaten path. I didn’t have a chance to off-road this tester, but I hit the dirt in an LX in 2016, and the 2021 model is essentially the same. A lockable center differential is standard as is a two-speed transfer case and five different terrain modes. The air suspension can give the Lexus over 11 inches of ground clearance and there is some nifty technology that applies the brake to an inside wheel when the trail gets tight. It’s far more capable in the rough stuff than anything from BMW or Mercedes-Benz. It’ll totally stand toe-to-toe with a Range Rover.

The interior is comfortable and the materials are great, but the infotainment tech is all kinds of awful.

Emme Hall/Roadshow

Inside, the LX can be had with two or three rows of seats, and there’s a maximum of 81.3 cubic feet of cargo space. While there is plenty of room in that third row, it isn’t the most comfortable. My rear is lower than my knees, making me feel like I’m sitting in a kindergarten chair, but the second row is supercomfy with available heated and cooled seats, separate climate controls and an available dual-screen DVD system. Unfortunately, there isn’t a Wi-Fi hotspot, so your kids can’t stream Netflix or Hulu or anything like that.

While the cabin is full of luxurious style and it’s pretty well insulated from road and engine noise, Lexus needs a full-blown overhaul of its infotainment system. The Enform technology is housed on a 12.3-inch screen, controlled by a persnickety joystick that’s difficult and distracting to use. The graphics are outdated, the interface isn’t easy to understand and the whole system is just harder than it needs to be. Case in point: When using the in-dash navigation system there is no mute button on the map. Instead I have to exit navigation, go to the general setup menu, find the voice settings and mute the directions from there. It’s just not well thought out. Normally I’d just say to use your phone for navigation, but neither Apple CarPlay or Android Auto is offered. Ugh. At least the LX gains Amazon Alexa integration for 2021.

Unfortunately, the LX is an SUV that’s tough to recommend.

Emme Hall/Roadshow

The LX 570 has two USB Type-A ports, a wireless charging pad and a 12-volt outlet up front, but second-row passengers only get one 12-volt plug and a 120-volt outlet. Want charging options in the third row? Too bad.

The 2021 Lexus LX 570 starts at $87,605 including a $1,025 destination charge, and my tester just crests the $100,000 mark. That means the LX is priced in line with other full-size luxury contenders, but nice as it is inside, the Lexus offers far less in the way of technology and performance. Honestly, if you’re married to this archaic type of SUV and value its off-road credibility, why not just save $5,000 and get a Toyota Land Cruiser? After all, it’s essentially the same thing.


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