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This $100,000 Lexus will make you feel like a million bucks

It's an SUV that defines luxury and indulgence

Jeff Rundles //June 29, 2016//

This $100,000 Lexus will make you feel like a million bucks

It's an SUV that defines luxury and indulgence

Jeff Rundles //June 29, 2016//

This vehicle is huge – 199.4 inches long.

This vehicle is heavy – 6,000 pounds.

This vehicle guzzles gas – 13 mpg city/18 mpg highway.

This vehicle is expensive – nearly $100,000.

What’s not to like?

The truth is this: There is nothing ecological about the Lexus LX 570 (although the Lexus website says it is a Certified Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle {ULEV II}). There is nothing economical about this vehicle. It is a pure indulgence, plain and simple, but it is one of the most magnificent vehicles I have ever driven.

For about the same money you can have the Toyota version, the Toyota Land Cruiser, as both known internally in the Toyota family as the J200, so I assume it would also be just as magnificent, but magnificence in the car world is a very, very small club. The Lexus LX 570 is probably club president.

Yeah, it’s a guilty pleasure. I felt as though my carbon footprint was larger than it needed to be, and I looked down my nose at mere BMWs and Mercedes the whole week I dove the LX 570, but I just couldn’t help think that if I had a spare $100k this is just the vehicle I would buy.

Here’s why: Luxury ― while maybe a Bentley is a tad more luxurious, nothing I have driven over many years even comes close in this category. Driving ― I felt in complete control, as if the tires were glued to the road, and I was surprised by the LX’s nimbleness and handling given the size. And safety ― I don’t think I have ever felt more safe in a vehicle, starting with the view where you can see everything, going on to the weight where it feels like you’d survive most crashes, to the presence where those annoying people in a hurry who never stop at side streets and pull out in front of you all the time and here they hit the brakes and back up. The LX repels annoying people; that’s got to be worth half the price right there.

The LX is, obviously, a full-size SUV that Lexus introduced 20 years ago (a 1996 model) as the LX 450 with a V6 engine. It was upgraded after only three years to a V8, first the LX 470, and then, since the 2008 model year, the 570, which stands for 5.7-liter. While the vehicle is in only its third generation, there have been several slight modifications, or “refreshments,” over the years, but essentially the current model looks exactly like the 2008 model, and very much like the 1996 model.

This is what the great automakers do: they take their time to create a classic, and then they change very little about it over a long time. They become venerable. Sometimes you can just get old, or dated, without veneration, but to create and maintain veneration takes a ton of skill. Toyota/Lexus has skills.  

I won’t bore you with all of the details concerning the features of this car. Suffice to say that all of the stuff is in there: blind-spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, airbags aplenty, power everything, technological hookups for everything, Bluetooth, yadda, yadda. This is a top-of-the-line luxury vehicle and they had spared no expense.

So let’s go through my favorite stuff:


  • Absolutely the coolest thing on any vehicle I’ve ever had is this LX’s cool box. In the console and easy to reach, there’s a compartment that will fit two six packs (of pop, I assume) and whatever else needs to be cooled, and there’s a button on the top to turn on the blower. My wife saw it and said, “Oh, cool, I’ve always wanted one of these.”
  • 12.3-inch display screen, which is wider rather than taller. To some extent, display screens are a distraction, but at least this one has been designed so that you can see what you want quickly. It displays multiple data points – radio info, climate info/changes, navigation/maps, etc. — at once in a way that is not confusing and as non-distractive as possible.
  • Rear seat(s) entertainment system (a $2,005 option). Two wide screens, mounted on the backs of the two front seats and featuring tilt action, can run DVDs, CDs, game or whatever – and separately. Passengers, and especially kids, can use the wireless headsets to do their own thing so Johnny can play  video game and Susie and watch Barney, or vice versa, without having to fight over who controls.
  • Power, automatic lift gate in the back that raises about two-thirds of the back gate, leaving the bottom third for the operator to unlatch by hand. It’s handy and it holds cargo in.
  • Hidden wireless phone charger, snuggled in the dash, with a feature that alerts you when the phone is completely charged. Plus, while it charging the phone still works, hands-free of course.
  • Cooled and heated seats – in both the front and second row seating areas. I didn’t really use the heated seats this June, but the cooled seats felt great.
  • Height adjustments. There’s a button on the console that will slightly raise, or lower, the vehicle, presumably for off-road situations. It also works as a leveler by itself; I once stopped for a light on a fairly steep hill and the LX leveled itself. Quite cool.   
  • Lexus Enform has lots of different aspects, like live navigation assistance. This one also had the Enform remote mobile app that aids in remotely starting the engine, locking and unlocking doors, check fuel level, and it can even help you find the vehicle in a parking lot. And, should you loan the car to another driver – like, a kid – the remote mobile app will send instant alerts if, for example, a preset speed or mile limit is exceeded. This feature comes standard on the LX 570 and is free of subscription fees for a year (I have no idea what it costs after that).
  • Courtesy lights on the mirror that come on at night when you approach the vehicle and light you path.


The LX had wonderful, comfortable leather seating, the best brakes in the business, an air conditioner that would freeze you out in a Louisiana bayou, a completely easy (and separate) climate control panel, and a radio/sound system that was very intuitive and easy to use. The only thing I didn’t like was that the two cup holders up front were a little cramped and tucked in.

The most interesting thing about this vehicle is that there are many controls for the permanent all wheel-drive system, like a setting for switching it into L4, and “crawl control” and the kind of stuff that comes in handy when off-roading. Why anyone would off-road in a $100,000 vehicle that is this beautiful is beyond me, but it’s nice to know I guess that if you were called on to rescue someone off of Mt. Princeton above standard roads, you’d probably make it.

For the record, this 5.7-liter V8 features 383 horsepower, and it has plenty of power for anything. This is coupled with an 8-speed auto transmission that is as smooth as silk, and when you add in the obvious great suspension, the whole thing handles like a dream. It also has a 7,000-lb. towing capacity, so grab a boat or a trailer and you’re good to go.

The base price of the LX 570 is $88,880 – just for comparison purposes, the same vehicle in Toyota, the Land Cruiser carries a base price of $83,825; they must use less expensive wood in the impressive interior accents. On my test-drive LX they added the aforementioned $2,000 for the rear-seat entertainment, another $1,190 for a luxury package involving the leather seating and the heated/cooled seats, another $2,350 for an upgraded Mark Levinson 19-speaker surround sound audio system that was marvelous, $170 for the cool box, and a couple of other little things. Add in $940 in destination charges and the bottom line is $97,405.

I get that it’s expensive and un-econ friendly, but I want one anyway.  A car gives you a feeling. If you’re tooling around in beater, you feel ashamed. In this Lexus LX 570, for only $100,000, you feel like a million bucks.