INTERIOR

If I wasn't wild about the exterior looks of the LX 570, the interior comfort made it up to me. Huge, soft leather seats embraced me with heat or air conditioning, which is optional, at the touch of a button. While I reveled in the luxury of a warmed or cooled tushy, the perforated seats that provided such comfort also collected crumbs and mystery grunge. Those are the trade-offs, I guess.

Warm wood trim softened the cool gray tones of the dashboard. A recessed rubberized pad held my iPhone, while the Bluetooth connectivity not only made the phone functions hands-free but streamed my music almost magically. My only beef with the audio system was the volume seemed to move in such small increments that I felt like I was cranking the volume just to hear the lyrics.

I also could have used more storage in the front seat. The center console bin is cooled and insulated, but it's on the small side. While that's certainly a nifty feature, I never turned it on. I'd rather have someplace to stash my baby wipes and crayons. In the LX, I usually just tossed everything on the front passenger seat, which makes for a mad scramble whenever another adult tries to climb in.

I find Lexus' center stack to be clumsy and hard to use. The touch-screen is at its center and requires the driver to look away from the road to do anything. Options fade in and out as the car comes to a stop and begins to move again, and some functions seem to be voice control only, which is confusing. The voice-control system works well, but it's slow and cumbersome, with long pauses between prompts and responses. I don't think it liked me very much. I may have gotten snippy with it.

In the backseat, there's plenty of room for three adults, three kids or three child-safety seats, but it's virtually impossible to buckle the center seat belt. It's much easier to toss that third or fourth kiddo in the third row. To get to the third row, second-row seats tumble forward easily, with a one-handed release. The second row's power-sliding feature creates additional legroom for the third row when it's in use.

There's a large armrest that folds down in the second row, and it not only provides cupholders but a shallow storage bin, as well. This was great for stowing the optional rear entertainment system's remote control and a couple of DVDs. In the third row, the kids were pretty comfortable, but adults might find it a tight fit. I could sit back there, but I wouldn't want to for very long. There are also cupholders and a storage bin below the windows in the third row.

Lexus has stayed with its odd folding mechanism, which folds the back of the seats downward and then lifts the whole seat up toward the sides of the car. This is made fairly painless by a power-folding function, but it still impedes rear visibility. I'd rather see the seats fold into the floor.

IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT

Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Galore

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