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After a skipped 2012 model year, the 2013 Lexus LX 570 returns with an ever more luxurious interior, some new tech gadgetry, and a front end brought into line with the rest of the latest Lexus lineup. It remains an SUV in the classic mold in that's it's a body-on-frame vehicle, designed first for off-road capability, second for passenger comfort, lastly for fuel economy.
Whether your needs line up with its safari-chic ethic or not, it's worth noting some minor changes for the 2013 model year. The LX was last seen in the 2011 model year with a 5.7-liter V-8, and that's true this year, too. The 383-hp engine and its six-speed automatic and four-wheel drive are shared with the Toyota Land Cruiser, along with its frame construction, which means a high degree of rugged performance. It performs in a straight line well enough, with able passing power and acceleration, but the LX's size and weight are never far out of mind when a corner comes up. It's not maneuverable, feels overwhelming on city streets, and has plenty of body roll to discourage brisk driving. Gas mileage, at 12/17 mpg, is dismal, and there's no diesel option.
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.
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.
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.