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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

2015 Lincoln Navigator 4×4

Lincoln Navigator a restyled Expedition for a lot morenav profile

Back-to-back test drives of Ford’s Expedition and Lincoln’s Navigator proved both are extremely comfortable, luxurious large sport-utility trucks, but also highlighted the folly of marketing.

These were close to identical trucks, both loaded with technology and luxury touches, the Ford being the near top-end King Ranch edition. Only an Expedition Platinum exceeds it in price and goodies.

The Lincoln comes in but one trim, but starts about where the King Ranch edition stops for price. The prior week’s Expedition was $64 grand, and the Lincoln started at $65,055 with a $995 delivery fee, about $200 more than the Ford’s delivery fee. Both are made in the same Louisville, Ky., factory.

nav back1Here’s the folly, to me, of two brands offering the same vehicle under different name plates. Since the King Ranch and Platinum models cost as much as the entry-priced Lincoln there’s too much overlap, not enough differentiation. Once the Lincoln added a few options, such as a $995 sunroof, and $6,550 package that included larger tires and wheels (which the King Ranch had) and the fancy Lincoln Drive Control, it hit $73,895.

To me that’s almost $10 grand more, for the same truck, except the sunroof and Lincoln Drive Control. That feature uses sensors to allow the suspension, electric power steering and other vehicle dynamics to interact and create a comfortable ride. It also includes noise dampening, which helped keep the cabin quiet. But then the Expedition was no slouch in those areas either. Continue reading 2015 Lincoln Navigator 4×4

2015 Ford Expedition King Ranch 4X4

Ford’s Expedition King Ranch a big, luxurious haulerexped3

            More than 10 years have passed since I last reviewed a Ford Expedition, which tells you something about how little Ford’s biggest sport-utility truck changes.

Like the Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe and GMC Yukon it competes with, the Expedition is a steady Eddie. It’s truck-based and remains much the same from model year to model year. Expedition and Expedition XL (14 inches longer, like Suburban compared with Tahoe/Yukon, are body-on-frame like many past sport-utes. But years ago Ford moved its other utes to car platforms and dropped the monster Excursion.

That leaves Expedition to tow the boats and trailers that outdoorsy folks need to haul. And this new version, which looks pretty similar to previous boxy models, will pull up to 9.200 lbs. That’s a gob lot.

exped1Yet the 2015 model does have a freshened nose and tail to smooth its boxy looks a bit, and more important, Ford drops its 3.5-liter Ecoboost V6 under the hood in place of the former 5.4-liter V8. The goal with the turbo-assisted V6 is to improve gas mileage, which the EPA rates at 15 mpg city and 20 highway. That’s still pretty low, as a Tahoe/Yukon is rated 16 mpg city and 22 mpg highway with its 355-horse V8. I managed just 14.9 mpg in my Expedition test drive, which was about 60% city driving. I had gotten 18.7 mpg in a GMC Yukon last fall. Continue reading 2015 Ford Expedition King Ranch 4X4

2015 GMC Yukon 4WD SLT

GMC Yukon continues to go BIG!

            If you’re the type of driver that feels bigger is better you’d better hustle off to a GMC dealer and declare your love for the 2015 GMC Yukon.yukon1

This is a heavyweight that’ll pull at least 8,200 lbs., has room for 6 or 7 adults, rides high and commands the road like little else, except its bigger brother, the Yukon XL. Note that Chevrolet has its own versions of both, with Chevy’s Tahoe being a twin to Yukon, while the Suburban is comparable to the Yukon XL.

            Let’s be perfectly clear, you don’t need a Yukon, unless you tow a big boat, large trailer or happen to have a big-boned large family. But you may want one if even a bit of the aforementioned is true and you intend to tow something heavy.

Start with its dimensions. The tested Yukon rides on a 116-inch wheelbase and is 203.9 inches long. The XL expands the wheelbase to 130 inches and grows 21 inches in length. That’s a lot more cargo room. The XL also is the one you want if you need to carry 9 adults. There’s more legroom in the third row seats.

But legroom and headroom are decent in the second and third rows even in the Yukon. The downside with Yukon is that there’s precious little cargo room behind row three. In fact, grocery bags are about it, unless you strap some cargo to the roof. Continue reading 2015 GMC Yukon 4WD SLT

2013 Nissan Armada Platinum Reserve 4×4

Armada beastly big with soft luxury interior

With a name that promises size as well as exclusivity, the Nissan Armada Platinum Reserve delivers on both while coming in at what has become a mid-luxury large SUV price.armada1

The Armada, made in Mississippi along with Nissan’s luxury make Infiniti Q56, is a beastly big vehicle with a softer luxury side. Touting the Platinum Reserve package that sounds like a wine rating assures a buyer that he or she is getting, well, something pretty darned special.

And so they are.

First, Armada looks like the biggest full-size ute on the highway. Its boxy styling and tall stance give it a formidable road presence. But it’s an optical illusion. The Chevrolet Suburban/GMC Denali XL, are much larger, nearly 15 inches longer stem to stern. In reality Armada slots in between Suburban/Denali and Chevy Tahoe/GMC Yukon, but weighs 21 lbs. more than Suburban and 147 lbs. more than Tahoe.

Armada, while shorter than Suburban, is 5 inches longer than Tahoe/Yukon. Height and width are similar for all these large trucks. Tahoe/Yukon has the best power to weight ratio at 17.8, but Armada can tow the biggest load at 9,000 lbs. Suburban is just behind at 8,000 lbs. Continue reading 2013 Nissan Armada Platinum Reserve 4×4