DETROIT — I thought that big, body-on-frame sport utilities were, well, obsolete. But I was wrong. After spending a week test driving the 2019 Lexus LX 570, I’ve learned that it is still an admired aspirational vehicle.
More than once I was asked for the keys, or whether I was driving it.
During my week with the LX, I discovered it was a spacious powerful sport utility. Under the hood was 5.7-liter normally aspirated V8 that made 383 horsepower and 403 pound-feet of torque.
It should not matter in this price range but for the record, the EPA rating for this LX 570 was 13 mpg in the city, 18 mpg on the highway and 15 mpg combined.
Ninety percent of the torque is available at a relatively low 3,600 rpm. The engine was mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. This LX could tow up to 7,000 lbs.
I had no plans to pull anything but the horsepower and torque made my test vehicle immediately responsive to my input. I thought cornering was good; they did a great job with the suspension. There were very few times that I could feel the LX’s weight and handling very good. There was not many times that the full-size luxury vehicle felt like a truck.
The LX was a sport utility in every sense of the phrase. Put another way, this was indeed a vehicle capable of rugged off road driving. It had five off road settings: rock, rock and dirt, mogul, loose rock and mud and sand.
There was low range gearing for what Lexus termed slow-speed crawling. The LX also had turn assist control and variable gear ratio steering and hill start assist. All of this of course was for really true off-roading, not driving up on the lawn.
Of course the LX had the spindle grille which has become synonymous with Lexus. It had 20-inch five-spoke wheels and it was outfitted with two rows of seats; three rows are available.
There were a bunch of safety features including pre-collision with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert, intelligent high beams and all-speed radar cruise control.
I found the lane departure alert to be mild but effective. That is important in a full-size utility like the LX 570. It will drift out of the lane because of its size. The alert keeps the driver aware, thus, in the lane and it is not robust enough to make you turn it off. That’s awfully important in a vehicle of this size. Adaptive cruise control was also part of the package.
Inside the 2019 Lexus had the ambiance of subdued elegance. There was subtle leather trim everywhere, stitching and wood veneer trim. Since there are five choices, it is hard to say which type I had but my guess is dark brown walnut.
There were a lot of right angles and the interior was old school. Instruments were analog, so was the clock. There were heated and cooled seats fore and aft. There were a 14-way power adjustable driver’s seat, a 12-way power adjustable passenger seat and two-way power seats in the rear. The second-row side windows had manual privacy screens and there was a moonroof. There were also climate controls in the rear.
Open the center console and there was a tray that could be pulled out; it revealed a storage space beneath it so deep that it looked like a cave.
Lexus is the only automaker I know of that links its climate controls and heated seats and steering wheel. They call it the Climate Concierge and it monitors the temperature of the four separate climate zones and adjusts not only the fans, but also the temperature of the seats and steering wheel.
Blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert was standard. To help keep the driver’s eyes on the road, the LX 570 puts more information directly in the line of sight with an available color head-up display. It shows the vehicle speed, dynamic radar cruise control information icons and intuitive park assist. My test vehicle didn’t have it.
But it did have a panoramic view camera to help maneuver a trailer, view the surrounding terrain when off-roading, and help view the area around the vehicle when parking. The camera projects the image to the 12.3-inch navigation screen, which can show several views to help aid the driver.
The 12.3-inch infotainment screen is operated with what Lexus calls remote touch interface. In English, that is a mouse and the screen can be split into three sections like navigation, audio and climate controls.
About the only thing I didn’t like was the wood and leather steering wheel. And that was not about the LX — I have yet to meet a wood-covered steering wheel that I found appealing. They are tough to grip as in they can be slippery and when it counts they can cost you valuable time that might keep you out of an accident. But that is me.
Of course, there was what have become the normal creature comforts: satellite radio, voice controls, Bluetooth, 12V jack and USB connections. For $88,195, the 2019 Lexus LX 570 had all the bells and whistles and got the props that come from being an aspiration vehicle.
Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com.