' Model: Lexus LX570 ' Exterior color: Nebula Gray Pearl ' Interior color: Black ' Engine: 5.7-liter, V-8 ' Horsepower: 383 ' Transmission: eight-speed automatic ' Fuel economy: 18 mpg city, 15 mpg highway ' Local Dealer: Lexus of Chattanooga, Lee Highway ' Price (as tested): $97,665
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As full-size SUVs go, the Lexus LX570 is the iron horse of the segment.
With its 6,000-pound curb weight and massive spindle grille, the LX570 looks like the automotive equivalent of a steam locomotive. If the mythical Chattanooga Choo Choo were an SUV, it would probably look like the LX570.
For 2016, Lexus has given its flagship family hauler a face lift, a slick new eight-speed transmission, a 12-inch touchscreen as big as a dorm-room television, and an available heads-up display.
Even with a sticker price approaching $100,000, the LX570 is one of the most sought-after models Lexus makes.
Nick Simmons, sales manager of Lexus Chattanooga on Lee Highway, said the LX570 is in such high demand that most of his sales are special order.
"It's our flagship SUV, and it will get you wherever you want to go in style," Simmons said. "It's the best product we put out."
The LX570 is popular, in no small part, because it delivers solid value. Experts who study model longevity say Lexus' LX line is virtually indestructible. Its durable, 5.7-liter V-8 engine, properly maintained, should last for 300,000 miles or more. Many LX570 buyers calculate their "return on investment" based on a vehicle lifespan of 10 years or more.
STYLING AND FEATURES
Automakers often use the term face lift to describe midcycle tweaks in headlamp designs and minor changes in hood architecture. The LX570 has gotten an actual face lift, however, with a massive new, hour-glass-shaped spindle grille. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but there's no disputing the fact that Lexus is making a bold visual statement here.
Driving the LX570, you're announcing yourself as a proud Lexus family. There's really no other reason to own an eight-passenger LX570 unless you are hauling around a big brood. The big SUV has 158 cubic feet of interior space.
With the third-row seats folded down, there's still 24 cubic feet of cargo space available, and redeploying the seats is as easy as pressing power buttons mounted inside the rear hatch. In a week of suburban driving, our 9-year-old-son became attached to the "way-back" seats, preferring to sit there even if the second-row seats were empty.
The LX570's sprawling dimensions demand squared-off corners, and so, from the windshield back, the LX570 is rather boxy. Lexus buyers who want a more rakish look, and don't need the extra seating, can turn to the smaller RX and NX models.
Inside the cabin, the LX570 has the usual line-up of luxury amenities. Our tester has heated second-row seats, part of a $1,190 luxury package, and a rear-seat DVD system that adds $2,000 to the bottom line. All seats are trimmed in plush, semi-aniline leather, and the front seats are both heated and ventilated.
The dash is dominated by a new, 12.3-inch touch screen that houses the navigation and telematics functions. Satellite radio is piped through a sweet-sounding Mark Levinson audio system with 19 speakers spread throughout the vehicle. The state-of-the-art stereo is a $2,3000 option.
Standard features on the LX570 include a wood-trimmed steering wheel, navigation, illuminated running boards and a tow hitch. Towing capacity is about 7,000 pounds.
The LX570 has a new eight-speed transmission mated to its 5.7-liter V-8 engine. Lexus said that despite its weight, the LX570 will scoot from zero to 60 miles per hour in 7.3 seconds.
The SUV is almost 17 feet long and more than 6-feet tall, which makes mall parking a challenge. Fortunately, it has a 360-degree camera - in addition to a traditional back-up camera - to help drivers maneuver into tight spaces.
During several days of test driving, the LX570 proved to be a comfortable commuter-mobile, although its girth takes some getting used to. The ride is soft and composed, but lacks the sedanlike handling of the brand's smaller SUVs.
Full-time all-wheel-drive is a nice selling point for mountain residents who must sometimes battle winter precipitation on their way home from work.
If you're in the market for an eight-passenger luxury SUV, the LX570 is one of the most refined and durable family haulers on the road.
Fuel economy is modest, as you'd expect in a 6,000-pound vehicle. Expect about 18 miles per gallon highway and 13 miles per gallon city.
The bast price of our tester is $88,880. With options, the bottom line is $97,665.