2018 Lexus RX350 L. Metro News Service photo

RX350 available with 3 rows, rugged LX570 ready for all roads

Lexus SUVs try to be all things to all people

Lexus gets criticized sometimes for being too conservative. I can’t tell you how many times I hear someone say, “Sure they’re nice, but what’s exciting about them?” To be honest, some of that so-called criticism is fair. Lexus is a conservative brand, or at least they were. Then they stepped up their design game. All of a sudden, their design was criticized for being too bold or garish. This goes to show that in the automotive industry, as is the case in the life, you can’t please everyone.

This week, I’m taking a look at two different Lexus SUVs. Toyota’s luxury brand has mastered the art of luxury SUVs. This is right in their wheel house when it comes to being in touch with their consumers. That’s why Lexus seemingly offers so many different SUVs.

This week I drove the RX 350L and the LX570. The letters and numbers can be confusing, but both these SUVs have third-row options, with the LX570 being a standard 7-passenger ride. In fact, it shares the same platform with the rugged Toyota Land Cruiser. And really those similarities are fair. Not long ago, I spent some quality behind the wheel of the Land Cruiser. It was impressive, until I got to the whopping price tag.

Knowing what the Land Cruiser cost, I was less flabbergasted by the LX570’s price tag that exceeded $90,000. Meanwhile, Lexus now makes the 350 available with a third row (in only the 350L). As such, this is a more affordable alternative to the big and bold LX570.

On looks, both SUVs have the new Lexus styling. It is a polarizing look with a bold and aggressive front end. I love it and feel it was necessary to shake off the brand’s sleepy persona. Now, it’s modern, stylish and certainly can’t be called a glorified Toyota. Both SUVs have an attractive fit and finish; both ooze luxury and make an amazing first impression.

The engines couldn’t be much more different as the RX350 has a 3.5-liter V6. This is still somewhat antiquated when it comes to trends in the automotive industry, as more and more SUVs are going to turbocharged four-cylinder engines. But, as such, the RX350 with the 8-speed transmission still has fantastic performance. It won’t generate goosebumps, but it won’t disappoint either. If you feel that many Lexus SUVs are too conservative in performance, well then, the RX350 won’t change your mind.

The LX570, however, is a totally different beast. And beast is apropos as it has a 5.7-liter V8 engine. But beyond that, and beyond the capable performance numbers (383 horsepower and 403 lbs.-ft. of torque), the LX570 shows that it’s quite ready and willing to get dirty.

This luxury SUV has a wild side with off-road ruggedness that includes crawl control, an adjustable suspension, locking differential and full-time four-wheel drive. I took this behemoth to the woods to pick out a Christmas tree. Despite a muddy path, the SUV showed it is confident off the road. Additionally, it can tow up to 7,000 pounds.

Inside, these SUVs again diverge. As you’d expect from a Lexus, they both have fantastic touch points and incredible luxury. There’s no wow factor in either SUV, but there’s also incredible attention to detail that shows why Lexus is a luxury brand and helps justify their price tags.

Both have the frustrating Remote Touch controller, which functions like a very touchy joystick to control the infotainment system. The 12.3 display screen is beautiful and well positioned in both SUVs. The lack of Android Auto or Apple CarPlay makes the system further confounding. We can hope in the next generation of Lexus SUVs that this Remote Touch controller will be eliminated once and for all and that smart phone integration is employed better. Those are the only negatives for either SUV when it comes to the interior.

As mentioned, the LX570 had a big sticker price. My tester had a base price of $89,980 and a final MSRP of $93,350. To be fair, the Land Cruiser I reviewed had an MSRP of $85,000, so this seems almost like a bargain in comparison. Meanwhile, the RX350L had a base price of $49,070 and a final MSRP of $56,835. For a seven-passenger luxury SUV, that’s actually quite competitively priced.

The RX350 has an EPA rating of 18 mpg/city and 25 mpg/highway. The LX570 is a guzzler with a rating of 13 mpg/city and 18 mpg/highway.

Both these luxury SUVs from Lexus have merit and appeal. When it is time to be critical you really have to split hairs as they’re solid, well-built SUVs with plenty of interior space and attractive looks. But, please, fix the infotainments systems!

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