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2022 Lexus LX 600 F Sport Handling

A Land Cruiser in fancier duds and an in-your-face grille …

Big comes in all sizes. That may sound counterintuitive, but consider the new Lexus LX 600, which replaces the LX 570 that had grown old in styling and tech.

Not to worry, the LX 600 looks massive with possibly the industry’s biggest, most intimidating grille while featuring a whole host of new tech slathered into its high-end luxury leather interior.

Sadly for the Lexus it followed Lincoln’s Navigator Black Label in my review vehicle rotation. They DO compete, but the biggest Lexus falls short of the Navigator in size and even some features. More on that in a sec.

It’s big, but the F Sport model’s grille isn’t quite as intimidating as other versions!

While no one would ever accuse the LX 600 of being petite at 200.5 inches long with a wheelbase of 112.2 inches and weighing in at 5,665 pounds, it’s smaller than several of its key competitors, including the Navigator and Cadillac Escalade.

For instance, the Lincoln rides on a 10-inch longer wheelbase (softer ride), and is 10 inches longer overall while weighing just 200 lbs. more. Escalade is nearly identical in dimensions.

The power edge goes to Lincoln too with its 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 creating 440 horses and 510 pound-feet of torque. Lexus certainly is no slouch, packing 409 horses and a torque rating of 479. It climbed West Virginia’s mountains with ease, even with five folks and mucho luggage aboard.

It also won the gas mileage war, an important battlefront these days. In mostly highway driving I managed 19.9 mpg with the Lexus, a full 1 mpg more than the Lincoln.

But luggage space was a major concern. While the LX 600 offers seating for 7 with a wide bench seat in row 2 in the tested F Sport Handling edition, there is precious little cargo space behind row 3. With it in place there’s about 8 inches of storage behind the seat, so good for 3, maybe 4, grocery bags, sideways.

Watch Mark’s video: Mark Savage reviews the 2022 Lexus LX 600 – YouTube

I used the power buttons under the one-piece powered hatch (the LX 570’s split tailgate is gone) to lower both third row seats and then had enough cargo room for five suitcases and various boxes, duffels and snack sacks. Note too, the third row seats now fold completely flat.

Not much cargo space at all if the third-row seats are deployed.

Navigator had much more cargo room, 103.3 cubic feet compared with 64 here. Escalade has even more.

The Lincoln also smartly features a 2/3-1/3 split for its row 3 seating, which would benefit the LX 600 immensely given its miniscule storage behind row 3. Its 50/50 split gives a third-row passenger more elbow room, but leaves less cargo space.

That said, the four adults and one teen were comfy on our trip to Huntington, W.Va. for the burial of my wife’s mother. But the teen would have loved his own seat behind the adults. Note that Lexus offers an Ultra Luxury model with seating for just four, including massaging captain’s chairs for row 2 and a big console between the seats. Nice, if four seats will do ya.

How about the ride and drive?

Well, this is the platform that Toyota’s much vaunted Land Cruiser rolled on until being discontinued in the U.S. market for 2022. The LX 600 replaces that and is aimed at pulling Land Cruiser intenders to the Lexus brand for their off-roading fun.

LX 600 has that capability with full-time 4-wheel-drive and crawl control, plus 8 inches of ground clearance along with smallish running boards to avoid packing too much mud and muck on them if slopping about in your luxury truck. Hard to imagine that, but then Lincoln, Land Rover and Jeep Grand Wagoneer buyers may consider the same thing. These all cost north of $100 grand these days.

Power is quite good from the twin-turbo V6 with no turbo lag and smooth shifts provided by a 10-speed automatic tranny. Again, there was plenty of grunt to get up some steep rural mountain roads and Lexus says its SUV will pull 8,000 pounds, just 300 less than the Navigator for instance, or 200 less than the Cadillac.

Ride was mostly smooth, well-controlled and the interior quiet. But as with the Navigator and most trucky SUVs there is considerable bounce or rebound over uneven roads. Abrupt craters and cracks actually are smoothed out quite well, but it’s the rolling pavement that tends to give the Lexus and others the rock and roll that can become annoying when there’s a lot of it in a short span. The Lexus rides on big 22-inch Dunlap tires, same size as the Lincoln.

Handling is easy and well composed, not much body lean in turns, especially when loaded down for a trip. And various drive modes from Eco to Sport+ stiffen the steering feel and adjust shift points and suspension. Comfort mode is best most of the time, but Sport gives the SUV the extra boost it needs when jumping onto a crowded highway.

Know too that this F Sport has stiffer suspension settings to improve handling and provide more road feedback. In that way it’s much sportier feeling than the larger Navigator. But when buying, test an LX without F Sport tuning to see if your tushie prefers firmer or softer damping and if the sportier handling meets your demands.

A lot of leather here, and the red really makes this interior pop!

Inside there’s no denying the Lexus looks and feels high-end. The tested Onyx Black model featured Circuit Red leather seats and otherwise black trim from dash to headliner. Special Hadori-inspired aluminum trim added a lighter, elegant element to the look. It’s featured on the console and door panel inserts.

Hadori is a traditional Japanese polishing technique to create a wavy silver finish on swords.

That’s Hadori polished metal trim on the doors. Plenty of legroom here too.

Seats are well shaped and the leather soft enough to make it pleasant riding for several hours at a time. But the Navigator had more electronic controls to adjust side bolsters and various lumbar settings, plus a massaging feature for both front and rear seats. The LX had none of those in the F Sport trim, including no lower cushion extension that many taller drivers prefer.

I must say that despite more than 1,200 miles in the second row bench, the three passengers never complained of any discomfort or ride fatigue due to the seats, so a strong testament that row 2 was comfy. Front and second row seats also were automatically heated and cooled in response to interior temp conditions, oh, and the steering wheel was heated.

Lexus also upgrades the LX to a 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen, a much needed improvement compared with the old console-mounted touchpad and knob. The screen worked fine and the test SUV included a snazzy Mark Levinson sound system, costing $2,660 extra. A smaller screen below the info touchscreen handles climate control functions.

Two screens, the big top one is infotainment, the lower one for climate controls.

More tech? There’s also a panoramic view monitor, a HomeLink system, headlamp washers, wireless phone charger, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a HUD, six USB ports and Bluetooth.

Overhead is a small sunroof and shade that only really covers the front seats. Most SUVs and crossovers now feature panoramic sunroofs. The Lexus also features manual side sunshades.

The SUV’s power hatch was rather sensitive too, often beeping while we were loading and unloading the vehicle. I suspect it was sensing our foot movements that normally would open or shut the hatch, and it did try to close once while someone was hauling luggage from the cargo area.

Safety tech equipment is substantial as you’d expect, including a blind-spot monitor, parking assist, auto braking, pre-collision systems, frontal collision warning, smart cruise control, lane departure alert, road-sign assist and smart high beams.

We hit the road in the big Lexus. That’s a bridge over the Ohio River from beautiful Huntington, W. Va., to Ohio.

The lane departure system was OK, but sort of moved the vehicle side to side a lot (as these often do), and required the driver keep hands on the wheel. The Navigator had a semiautonomous system, ActiveGlide, that worked well and allowed the driver to remove hands from the wheel for extended periods. Escalade has a similar system called Super Cruise.

On the upside, Lexus trimmed 441 pounds from the previous model by using aluminum for the doors, hood, fenders, and roof. When driving it’s easy to notice the constant flex in the lighter hood.

The twin-turbo V6 here is much more efficient too. The EPA rates it at 17 mpg city and 22 highway. My 19.9 indicates the estimates are reasonable and better than the old V8 that made roughly 380 hp. How much better? I got just 10 mpg with the Lexus LX 570 in my last test and 13.3 mpg with the Land Cruiser. Big improvement! One would suspect a hybrid system could be coming to help it further.

That’s a LOT of grille!

Then there’s the exterior styling. From the side or back the LX 600 looks much like other large luxury SUVs, but the nose is decidedly distinctive because of its massive trapezoidal grille. Most versions’ grilles feature imposing chrome horizontal bars, but the F Sport fills the grille with black mesh. Either way, it’s an eye catcher that one either finds impressive or oppressive.

Bottom line, this Lexus, like the Lincoln or Land Rovers or big Jeeps, is for high rollers, not average SUV buyers, or those with low six-figure incomes.

The base is $88,245, the Premium lists at $96,245 and the Luxury model is $104,345. This F Sport, which was a pre-production model has a list price of $103,790, including delivery, and its estimated cost was $106,450. The Lincoln was slightly more.

That LX 600 Ultra Luxury model with a reclining captain chair behind the passenger and seating just for four, moves up several more notches to $127,435. The seats also add massage functions.

Some competitors such as those listed earlier are in the same financial neighborhood, while others like the Escalade, GMC Yukon Denali, and Chevrolet Suburban live a few blocks over in the classy, but more cost-efficient hood.

FAST STATS: 2022 Lexus LS 600 F Sport Handling

Hits: Distinctive grille, strong more efficient power, true off-road ability, luxury interior, large touchscreen, automatic heated/cooled front and rear seats, heated wheel, power fold third row seats, multiple drive modes, comfy seats, wireless charger.

Misses: Massive grille, small sunroof, almost no storage if third row in use, bouncy ride, no massaging seats, third-row seats split in half not 2/3-1/3, no bottom seat cushion extender for driver.

Made in: Japan

Engine: 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6, 409 hp/479 torque

Transmission: 10-speed automatic

Weight: 5,665 lbs.

Wheelbase: 112.2 in.

Length: 200.5 in.

Cargo: 11, 44, 64 cu.ft.*

MPG: 17/22

MPG: 19.9 (tested, mostly highway)

Base Price: $103,790 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $94.226

Major Options:

Mark Levinson premium audio system, $2,660

Test vehicle: $106,450**

*US News & World Report figures

**estimated, pre-production vehicle

Sources: Lexus, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

2022 Lexus LX 600 debuts

Upscale moves more upscale, but remains trail worthy …

In case you’re an affluent couple (think $320,000+ annual income) the luxury sport-utility market just got an upscale upgrade from Lexus.

The LX 600, the longtime Lexus luxury yacht, er SUV, has been remade for 2022 and is now rolling into dealerships. Lexus tells us they are moving the LX up a couple notches by modernizing its technology, cutting its weight, delivering a more fuel-efficient twin-turbo engine and offering a variety of seating options.

And yes, they are piling on the luxury features while going with five trim levels, including an F Sport model. All may stun you in a variety of ways, not least of which is pricing.

The new LX 600 will be the brand’s flagship model (trucks are more popular than cars) and they hope sales will respond to garner Toyota’s luxury make more market share in a growing segment where about 2 million units were sold in 2020. The market, Lexus reports, is growing about 2.5% a year and they hope to see the LX’s portion more than double from its current 3,500 units a year to about 9,000. Some of those, they are sure, will come from its former Land Cruiser buyers as the Cruiser has been discontinued. But don’t fret, all LX models will have full off-roading capability.

We’ll hope to get a new LX 600 sometime this summer for a test drive, but here are some of the highlights of the new model, which Lexus reassures will be reliably off-road worthy.

This is what the Ultra Luxury interior looks like. Mmmm, comfy!

Consider this for the 2022 model:

  • It will be 441 pounds lighter as it now features aluminum fenders, doors, hood and roof, that last bit a first for Toyota.
  • The trusty 5.7-liter V8 goes bye-bye to be replaced by a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 with way more torque and coupled with a fuel-saving 10-speed automatic transmission. Gas mileage improves from roughly 14 mpg to 19 mpg with that engine and the substantial weight loss.
  • A 12.3-inch info screen will be featured above a 9-incher for all your electronic and entertainment needs.
  • Trims will be the Standard model for about $86,000, the Premium for $95 grand, the Luxury for $103 grand and Ultra Luxury for $126 grand. Then there is the F Sport in the middle, and like other F Sport trim models will feature improved handling and offer a sportier vibe and appearance. Starting price will be roughly $101,000. Affluent indeed!
  • The third row seats will power down flat now. Before they didn’t quite lay flat. Power for those seats starts with the Premium model, which Lexus expects to be its top seller. That will have heated and cooled front seats and heated steering wheel, plus heated outboard seats in row two.
  • F Sport (the Lexus Hero Vehicle) will get a different grille, sport-tuned suspension, semi-aniline leather seats, 22-inch wheels and cool Hadori aluminum trim, an exclusive to F Sport.
  • Luxury models will also have their own 22-inch wheels, soft-close doors, rear manual sun shades and a 25-speaker Mark Levinson audio system.
  • Ultra Luxury models will only have four seats to create a “chauffer” type experience that emphasizes second row comfort with massaging seats and a passenger-side fold up ottoman. Some of this was previously offered on the former flagship model, the LS sedan. Leather here will be diamond patterned and the second row captain’s chairs will recline 48 degrees. Active height control will be standard too, as will a rear seat entertainment system, plus everything that comes on the lower trim lines.
  • A special Appearance Package for the Premium and Luxury trims will offer a matte gray grille, dark gray roof rails and 18-inch matte gray alloy wheels along with black bumper trim. For the record 20-inch wheels are standard with 22-inchers available on most trims.
  • Expect to see a multi-racial advertising campaign starting in April that will target younger buyers as the average age for the LX now is 56, a year younger than the average for the Luxury SUV market.
  • Competitors include the Cadillac Escalade, Range Rover, Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, all new or having been revamped in the past year.

This update comes from a Zoom meeting with Lexus representatives speaking to the Midwest Automotive Media Association.

More details to come once we get our hands on one of these to test drive, but one can imagine the LX 600 will be quiet and comfy with enough bells and whistles to justify its price.

Photos are courtesy of Lexus

2022 Jeep Wagoneer Series II

Giant Wagoneer moves Jeep WAY upscale …

Jeep’s massive new Wagoneer is its latest attempt at a halo vehicle, an upscale mount to lure hoity toity suburbanites looking for their third or fourth SUV to put in their 4-stall garage. Makes sense, profits are huge at this end of the market, just ask ALL the manufacturers.

But there were so many glitches and oddities that disturbed me with Jeep’s new Wagoneer (its last version sold in 1991) that I’m sure to be branded a Jeep heretic, a non-believer, a crabby old timer who probably didn’t suck down enough prune juice at breakfast.

I’m sorry if that’s what you think. I like many Jeeps and Wagoneer has many selling points. But it also has too many things that don’t make sense.

Incredibly Jeep also thinks so highly of its Wagoneer and, heaven help us, the even more upscale Grand Wagoneer, that it forgot to label this one a Jeep. That’s right, the only places you’ll find the Jeep brand name is inside the headlight fixtures and on the lower portion of the windshield.

That said, the Wagoneer name is spread across the hood and rear hatch, so it appears Jeep is making Wagoneer their upscale brand, like Lexus is to Toyota, Acura is to Honda, etc.

This latest rolling land fortress puts up impressive numbers though.

First, it is 214.7 inches long, rides on a 123-inch wheelbase, 22-inch tires, and weighs more than 5,900 pounds. That translates into a full-size SUV capable of hauling eight people, or just seven if one opts for captain’s chairs in row two instead of a bench. Unlike many 3-row SUVs though, there is ample room in row three for adults, while still leaving decent cargo room behind that third row.

This bad boy is Big with a capital B, front to rear and side to side.

On the power front Jeep opts for its 392-horsepower 5.7-liter HEMI V8, no sissified turbo V6 for this man handler. It’s got plenty of grunt and will tow up to 10.000 pounds.

I hesitate to say this, but you CAN get more power with the Grand Wagoneer that packs a throbbing 471-horse 6.4-liter V8. Of course you’ll pay more and as the Wagoneer earns just a 15 mpg city and 20 mpg highway rating from the EPA, imagine your fuel bill for the Grand now that we’re beyond $4 a gallon. I paid $68 for a ¾ tankful in a week’s drive (before gas prices skyrocketed), which came to 15.3 mpg vs. 16 on the trip computer. About half was highway driving.

Watch the video: Mark reviews the new super-big Jeep Wagoneer – YouTube

Ok, so gas mileage is my first bugaboo, and the low number comes despite Wagoneer having an eTorque 48-volt mild hybrid system with cylinder deactivation and variable cam timing to improve gas mileage. Seems a regular hybrid system would be called for in such a big beast, but so far that’s not offered.

Off-road ability is good. Wagoneer will ford 2 feet of water, but it’s not Trail-Rated, at least yet. There are five traction settings adjusted by a toggle on the console. Those include Auto, which is the default, Sport (in a Jeep?), Sand/Mud, Rock, and Snow.

Here’s my bugaboo though. We had snow during my test drive and I drove 20+ miles in that setting, which provided good grip. But after a stop for several hours I came back out and engaged Wagoneer’s Snow mode again (the Jeep resets automatically to Auto each time the ignition is turned off) and after 5 minutes the system flashed a dash light warning that 4WD was disabled and it remained that way for the rest of my 20-mile drive. Hmmm! Disabled just as I needed it. Not helpful. For the record, the next day after the car had rested overnight the system worked fine. Glitch?

Add this glitch to that. Same night, and while the heat settings were all in the 70-degree range, and the dual system set to Auto, after 10 minutes there was no heat. After futzing with the info screen for several minutes to adjust where the heat was to come from – vents, and turning the fan all the way up, just five settings, I finally got heat to move. A few minutes later I shifted it back to Auto, but still no fan action. Next day, it was fine. Hmmm, glitch No. 2!

No Jeep labeling back here, this is just a Wagoneer … a new luxury brand?

Let’s move on to looks. I like the Wagoneer’s nose as it features the usual 7-slot Jeep grille, but from the side and rear the Wagoneer looks like a block of steel that was cut into a rectangle and put on wheels. Yawn!

For those who like bling and who appreciate their, and Jeep’s American heritage, designers place small chrome US flags on both front doors next to the Wagoneer logo. I had one veteran question the taste of using the flag on a non-military vehicle. You be the judge.

Here’s that U.S. flag emblem, another Wagoneer badge, plus a much-needed running board.

Inside there’s no arguing the comfort and room. This feels like your great uncle’s leather-chair filled den on wheels. Head and legroom are generous throughout, that square roofline helping give tall folks oodles of noggin space. Seats are well formed and comfy and both the front and second row seats are heated, as is the steering wheel. Bravo! Front seats also are cooled.

No denying this is a leathery luxury interior, with all the fixins!

Sadly, like most new vehicles that are controlled through a giant touchscreen, and buttons surrounding said screen, the heated and cooled seats, heated steering wheel and those for the passenger, along with whatever drive mode you’ve selected, all need to be reset after every engine shutdown. First-world problem to be sure, but in my 5-year-old Subaru, and in many cars with manual seat-heat buttons they stay on the setting you place them in so when you turn the vehicle back on they do NOT need to be reset. In an $83 grand truck (yes, that’s the price) I’d expect the electronics to be smart enough to remember previous settings.

Big touchscreen? Oh yeah! Virtually all functions, even heated seats, go through it.

Not aiming this rant solely at the Wagoneer, but at many high-end info screen controlled vehicles. Also it’s hard to turn these heated items on if you are wearing gloves, the most likely time you’ll need to turn them on.

One final rant, or two, on the electronics, the seats sometimes turn themselves off, assuming you’ve warmed. However, in sub-zero temps seats are Not always so warm after 10-15 minutes. Likewise defrosters should never turn themselves off. Those of us in northern climes need these on all winter, no defaults to off please. Oh, and the five-pane instrument panel screen is way too much info and way too hard to adjust to the way a driver may like it. Interior designers need to know that folks live in cold climates and need buttons to work when a person is wearing gloves and that most of us don’t have time to program our basic instrument panel like we’re working on a 25-inch monitor.

On the plus side there is plenty more though. That screen is huge, there’s a giant sunroof overhead and a second smaller one with manual shade over the third row. The stereo is a 950-watt McIntosh with 19 speakers and 3D surround system, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard.  Inside this black leather-lined, fake gray wood-trimmed interior is quiet as your uncle’s den too. Wind and tire noise are minimal.

There’s a third-row seat with plenty of room.

The hatch is powered and sometimes opens when you just walk by it, and there are even power adjusted pedals to help us shorties get the accelerator to where we like it. A power tilt/telescope steering wheel is standard too as is all the electronic safety equipment we’ve come to expect, like emergency braking, a 360-degree camera, blind-spot warning, smart cruise control and lane-keeping assist. Oh, on that, the Wagoneer also chimed at me to “Put Hands On Wheel,” but they already were, just a smidge above the 10 and 2 positions. Hmmm, glitch No. 3!

There is a wireless phone charger here, along with manual side window sun shades for the second row, plus the second row seats slide forward to create more third-row passenger room or cargo space. Wagoneer has 8 USB ports standard, or 11 if you buy the rear-seat entertainment package for $2,195.

Need cargo space, not seat space? Fold row three down flat. Bingo!

That leads us to cost, and again, Wagoneer is intended for the upper echelon buyer. This Series II model starts at $72,995 including $2,000 for delivery (Wow!) and $3,000 for 4-wheel drive. Jeep added $9,930 is options, but didn’t specified for what in its pricing info.

Total was $82,925, country club membership not included. A rear-drive Series I model (not available at this posting) is to start at $59,995 including delivery. A Series III model with air suspension, HUD and Quadra-Trac II AWD lists at $78,995.

That’s not out of line with the likes of GMC’s Yukon Denali, Lincoln’s Navigator or Cadillac’s Escalade. All are mammoth and so luxurious that it’s unlikely any will ever go off-roading. But isn’t that what a Jeep is for?

FAST STATS: 2022 Jeep Wagoneer Series II 4×4

Hits: A Jeep on steroids, off-road capability, five drive modes, solid V8 power with huge tow ability, will carry up to 8 passengers. Giant sunroof plus smaller one for row 3, power hatch, the usual safety equipment and 4WD, naturally. Super quiet interior with oodles of leather, heated and cooled front seats, heated steering wheel, heated second row seats. Power adjustable pedals and steering wheel, comfy seats, giant touchscreen. 

Big console and row two folks get controls too!

Misses: Huge and so luxurious it likely will never go off-road. Screen and electronic controls, such as heated seats, all reset after ignition is off. Bummer! AWD function disabled itself during a snowstorm, apparently a mistimed glitch. Hard to engage seat climate buttons when wearing gloves and they turn themselves off when they shouldn’t. 5-panel electronic instrument screen way too complex to use while driving, overly complex in general.

Made in: Warren, Mich.

Engine: 5.7-liter HEMI V8, 392 hp/404 torque

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Weight: 5,960 lbs.

Wheelbase: 123 in.

Length: 214.7 in.

Cargo: 27.4-70.8-116.7 cu.ft.

Even the tow hooks are giant!

Tow: 10,000 lbs.

MPG: 15/20

MPG: 15.3 (tested)/16.0 (computer)

Base Price: $72,995 (includes delivery and AWD)

Invoice: $71,875

Major Options:

Not fully listed by Jeep, but total $9,930

Test vehicle: $82,925

Sources: Jeep, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

Lights at night

How good are you at car spotting?

I grew up with a kid in my neighborhood who could tell you what kind of car had just driven by listening to the engine. Yup, he was good. I love doing this, especially when the new cars come out. But when I was driving during the evening rush here in Milwaukee I tried identifying cars by just their tail lights. Relax, we were stopped most of the time. I grabbed ten images of 2018-19 vehicles’ tail lights. See how good you are. To make it tougher, I photoshopped out any logos if they were in the shot. If you choose the wrong answer it will appear red while the right one turns green. Good Luck. BTW, using Google Image Search is cheating and participants will be flogged. Also, right-clicking on the image will not give you the correct answer. I couldn’t make it that easy.

Continue reading Lights at night

2019 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription

XC90 keeps boxy, safe  family haulers tradition alive …2019 Volvo XC90

Give Volvo credit for staying true to its roots all these years. It remains the maker of boxy family hauling machines that are long on safety. Too bad for Volvo that the rest of the automotive world has caught onto the safety gig.

Well, actually the rest of the automotive world is increasingly intent on building big boxy vehicles too, call it the SUV-ing of America, and I suspect, eventually, the rest of the world. Continue reading 2019 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription

2017 Lexus LX 570

Pilot wannabes will like button-happy Lexus LX 570 …2017 Lexus LX 570

If you’ve always dreamed of being an airline pilot, but never got the training, you should try landing the new Lexus LX 570.

Lexus has created a cockpit fit for a pilot wanna-be with buttons galore. About the only thing missing is an altimeter.

Here’s a quick count of what you’ll get for nearly $100 grand. The center stack has 15 buttons plus four temperature control buttons, and two knobs for the radio. The console features 11 buttons, two toggles, and two knobs, plus a small park brake lever.

Need more? Oh there’s more. The power adjusted tilt/telescope steering wheel’s hub has 10 buttons, plus a 4-way directional pad and there’s a cruise control stalk behind the wheel. There are another 8 buttons on the dash’s face, plus the start button. Ironically the foot-wide screen atop the dash is not a touchscreen, but controlled by Lexus’s awkward and touchy mouse pad on the console.

If ever there were an argument for an autonomous car, this would be the starting point.2017 Lexus LX 570

Once you’ve mastered the maze of buttons, toggles and screen controls you’ll find the LX570 is the luxury version of Toyota’s Land Cruiser, a big beast of an SUV with serious off-roading capability. It has a wheelbase of 112.2 inches and is a full 199.4 inches long. The Lexus weighs in at a stout 6,000 lbs., but will tow 7,000. Continue reading 2017 Lexus LX 570

Audi Q7 3.0T Quattro

Audi’s Q7 ute lives up to its hype …2017 Audi Q7

I’d read some early reviews of the Audi Q7 full-size sport-utility and thought them suspiciously glowing, like a parent telling how great their kid’s violin concert had been.

Well, count me among the converted.

Big sport-utes are generally luxurious land barges that’ll pull a load and haul a load of people. Audi’s new 2017 Q7 will do all that, but in addition to power it delivers ride and handling.

The back story is that Audi didn’t make a 2016 model, skipping that model year because it intended this model to be an early 2017 release. It was planning a big upgrade, as in the use of a lot more aluminum in the body and overall structure, cutting 474 lbs. from the 2015 model. Audi also upgraded to a 5-link suspension front and rear and managed to lower the truck’s center of gravity by 1.7 inches. No small feat.

audi Q7bAll of that adds up to a more manageable ute, one that rides and handles much better than its predecessor.

Power still comes from a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 that creates a solid 333 horsepower and 325 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s sufficient to pull 7,700 lbs. of trailer too.

The V6 is linked to an 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission that shifts smoothly and delivers enough power to the Quattro 4-wheel-drive system that in the Dynamic drive mode the Q7 actually feels quick. There are four other Drive Select modes, Winter, Automatic, Comfort and Individual. Each can impact the steering effort, acceleration and ride, but Dynamic is the most fun. Continue reading Audi Q7 3.0T Quattro