While my colleague Courtney dreamed of owning this luxury SUV when she previewed it in February, I was caught somewhere between great appreciation of the family-friendly people-hauler and utter bewilderment that someone would spend $80K on a truck. Obviously, the Lexus LX 570 is a very well-appointed truck, but it's a truck nonetheless.
Seeing the 2008 Lexus LX 570 in person for the first time, I was struck with a feeling that something wasn't right. The proportions seemed off; it was gigantically chunky, yet somehow still seemed squat. Hmmm. What's wrong here? It wasn't until I got home and pulled out the owner's manual to solve another mystery, regarding a flashing truck icon on the dash, that I discovered that the squished appearance was, in fact, a feature. The LX 570 has an active height control system that was not only responsible for the annoying symbol on the dash, but also my test vehicle's stocky initial appearance.
During my two-week test drive, this feature became one of my favorites. It lowers the vehicle by a couple of inches to allow my children and me easier access to the behemoth SUV. It could also raise the vehicle to a high position, allowing us to ford the Mississippi on the way to school. Unfortunately, my daily commute doesn't take me by the mighty Mississippi, so I wasn't able to fully test this feature, but the way it automatically switched between normal and low sure was appreciated by this mom. It was also great entertainment; my kids thought sitting in the car and watching the horizon move was as good as the swings at the park.
The sheer number of buttons that greeted me on that first drive was also a bit overwhelming; I thought I might need pilot training just to get it home. I was sorely disappointed to find that not one of the switches inside was capable of brewing my morning latte. The owner's manual informed me that many of the non-java-producing buttons are related to the LX 570's impressive offroad functionality, at which point I found myself wondering how many owners would really have the guts to take their shiny, expensive toy offroad to test out its amazing automatic crawling feature. But I digress.
Once the initial aesthetic command and control shock wore off, I came to enjoy almost everything about the Lexus LX 570. Things I'll miss most are the climate-controlled seats, front and side-view cameras and the automatic-folding third-row seats. The heated and cooled seats came in handy when we had 80-degree weather one day and a spring snowstorm the next. The front-mounted camera took a little getting used to, but it made me feel quite spy-like when I was able to easily park this rig in a tiny spot at the mall.
As seems to be the case with the increasing number of power-operated items I've become acquainted with since my husband left for Iraq (walk away there, just walk away), the flip-and-fold third row was the bomb. I could hold the 1,000-pound kid's bike in one hand while flipping the third row up with the other. The only negative was that bringing the seat back into place was not so "fully automatic." It flips down with the press of a button, but you have to manually pull a strap to bring the seatback upright, then pull the headrests up as well - manicures beware. When the seats are upright, the side view is diminished, but it didn't bother me much because the side mirrors were uber-huge. Still, that's something to keep in mind when driving the LX.
The tailgate is also automatic, which is great, but its two-piece design is a bit peculiar. The automatic hatch part makes up about two-thirds of the back end. The last third is truly tailgate-like (think pickup truck); it folds down instead of up. This is great if you need to sit down and get your cleats on before the big baseball game, but it's a bit tricky when you have that 1,000-pound bike in your left hand.
In the useful-but-not-luxurious category, the Latch connectors were nicely covered with a flap, and a gaping hole was exposed when they were drawn back. That hole made finding the connector very easy, but it was a bit deep to reach, especially if you have to reach through it to remove a car seat. I was also very afraid of the amount of crumbs that would accumulate in that gaping hole while a car seat was in place.
The Lexus LX 570 is a very impressive SUV with luxury features that were truly useful in my not-so-luxury life. That ultra-luxury price tag, however - coupled with the less-than-stellar 15 mpg fuel economy - made me yearn for just a bit more simplicity.
*For more information on the 2008 Lexus LX 570 and its safety features, visit Cars.com. With questions or comments regarding this review, write to email@example.com.
LET'S TALK NUMBERS
Latch Connectors: 2
Seating Capacity (includes driver): 8
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair-Galore
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Great
Fun Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove On): Good Times
2008 Lexus LX570
Base price: $73,800
Price as tested: $80,655
Engine: 383-hp, 5.7-liter V-8
Fuel: 12/18 mpg
Ground Clearance: 8.9"
Turning Radius: n/a
Cargo space: 15.5-83.1 cu. ft.
NHTSA Crash-Test Ratings
Driver's side: Not Rated
Passenger's side: Not Rated
Front occupant: Not Rated
Rear occupant: Not Rated
Rollover resistance: Not Rated
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