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Preview: Third-generation LX 570 receives a second facelift

The full-size, eight-passenger luxury SUV has body-on-frame architecture, which translates to rugged, heavy-duty underpinnings.

  • Lexus LX 570 Front

THE PROS & CONS

    • WHAT’S BEST: Luxurious interior, comfortable ride, advanced off-road capability
    • WHAT’S WORST: It’s still thirsty, lousy multimedia interface
    • MOST INTERESTING: Takes the hassle out of selecting various options, it has them all

The first thing you need to know about the Lexus LX 570 is that it is a truck. I don’t mean that the full-size, eight-passenger luxury SUV has a truck-ish demeanour—far from that, in fact. I mean it has body-on-frame architecture, which translates to rugged, heavy-duty underpinnings. That’s where the ties to its utilitarian relative end, because once you step inside, it could pass for a big, very big, luxury sedan.

“Major minor change”

The LX 570’s current platform was introduced in 2008, and the 2016 version receives the model’s second facelift. Lexus claims it is a “major minor change.” The company says the exterior has all-new sheet metal on everything but the doors. Its now-familiar spindle grille is much more prominent, and the headlights, fog lights and tail lights are all LEDs.

Under its immense hood is the same 5.7-litre, 32-valve V8 that produces 383 horsepower and 403 lb-ft. of torque, though it is now mated to an eight-speed automatic (formerly a six speed). The transmission’s two additional ratios have helped reduce fuel consumption, which is now rated at 15.9 L/100 km combined versus the outgoing model’s 16.6 L.

The interior is lavishly appointed, roomy, and features almost every pampering feature you’d want – except massaging seats. Lexus has raised the level of standard features to new heights of unabashed opulence; it is so well-equipped, in fact, that you can choose but one trim level, with no available options packages. This has driven up the price, however, from the outgoing model’s $97,400, to $104,300, making it the only vehicle in its class with a starting price in the six digits.

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Power everything

The front seats are power adjustable with heat and ventilation. The second-row seats, also heated and ventilated, recline and are power-adjustable fore and aft. The third row seats lift out of the way electrically with the push of a button located in the rear cargo bay.

The dashboard is new and looks much more elegant than before, with richer, textured materials and much less hard plastic. It incorporates a larger, 12.3-inch central screen. It’s still not a touchscreen, and the Remote Touch Interface, which uses a mouse-like movable knob in the centre console to select menu items, is awkward and sometimes frustrating to use.

And there are buttons, lots and lots of buttons. There are soft-touch buttons in the centre stack for the four-zone climate control; the buttons and knobs in the console adjust drive modes and seat temperature; there are more than 15 on the new three-spoke steering wheel alone.

Four external cameras create a 360-degree bird’s-eye view in the large screen, and of course, there’s a rear view camera. The 19-speaker 450-watt Mark Levinson Surround System promises to satisfy even the most discriminating audiophile, and hanging off the front seatbacks are two 11.6-inch video screens to keep your offspring entertained on those weekend trips to the cottage. Oh, and if you’re pulling a boat to said cottage, the LX 570 should handle the task with ease, as it has a 7,000 lb. towing capacity.

The 2016 model now features five drive modes, Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport and Custom, each adjusting suspension, steering weight, engine response and transmission mapping. A convenient head-up display is standard, as is wireless phone charging capability. Also added is the Lexus Safety System, which includes active cruise control, a pre-collision system, lane-departure alert with steering assist, and automatic high beams.

Cottage-country carrier

Encounter a little mud on the way? Not to worry, because the LX is built to handle off-road excursions, probably better than the majority of smaller SUVs. Its full-time four-wheel-drive system utilizes a locking centre differential that varies power distribution front to rear depending on conditions. The LX also has five off-road modes to handle sand, mud, rocks or snow, and it has a low range setting for crawling over particularly rough terrain.

There’s ample cargo capacity, with 1,267 L of storage space available behind the first row of seats. With all the seats upright, there’s still 259 L available behind the third row.

Despite two Sport drive mode selections, the LX 570 is not a sporty drive. It is plush, quiet, and envelopes you in a protective cocoon from road noise and bumps. It does let you know when you are pushing it into turns, however, as ample body roll tilts your horizon, but it is not meant for tire-smoking sprints through the countryside anyway.

Its V8 pulls with surprising vigour and it sounds powerful too. The new eight-speed ‘box shifts smoothly, quietly and obediently, not switching between ratios unnecessarily if you’re hovering near a gear-change threshold speed. Steering is as you’d expect in a large, cushy SUV: soft and mostly numb, even in the sportiest mode.

The 2016 Lexus LX 570 has a high entry price. It is, however, a member of an elite class of passenger carriers, and if you factor in all its standard features, items that add considerably to the cost of its competitors as you pile on the options, its price makes more sense.

For this story, travel expenses were paid for by the manufacturer. For more Toronto Star automotive coverage, go to thestar.com/autos . Feedback: wheels@thestar.ca

 2016 Lexus LX 570

PRICE: $104300; as tested: $108475

ADD-ONS: Destination charge: $2045

TYPE: Eight passenger full-size SUV

PROPULSION: Front engine four-wheel drive

CARGO: 1267L behind front seats

ENGINE: 5.7L V8

TRANSMISSION: Eight-speed automatic

POWER/TORQUE: 343 hp (286 kW)/403 lb.-ft. (547 Nm)

FUEL CONSUMPTION (L/100 km): City 18.3; highway 12.9; combined 15.9

BRAKES: Four-wheels discs; ABS; brake assist; electronic brake distribution

TIRES: 285/50R20

ACCESSIBILITY: Suspension lowers to allow easy access front and rear

COMPETITION: Cadillac Escalade, Infinity QX 80, Range Rover, Lincoln Navigator, Mercedes-Benz GL

LOOKS: Distinctive yet polarizing styling

INTERIOR: Roomy premium materials, very good fit and finish

PERFORMANCE: Surprisingly robust acceleration for its size

TECHNOLOGY: Lexus Safety System which adds pre-collision system, lane-departure alert with steering assist, adaptive cruise control, auto high beams

RATING: It’s big, thirsty, and a throwback to a time when large SUVs ruled

SCORE: 6/10

WEBSITE:www.lexus.ca

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