It is a rare occasion when I get to drive multiple vehicles back-to-back at any one event. In most cases, the focus remains on a single car, truck or SUV and certainly not the four vehicles I experienced earlier this year in the spectacular setting of Charlevoix, Quebec. To say it was a busy 48 hours is a dramatic understatement.
First on my list of test drives were the Lexus RX 350 and RX 450 Hybrid. Introduced in model year 2016 as a brand new design, the two RX models offer a level of comfort and luxury few SUV’s can match. Sophistication rules the day in the passenger compartment, seating for five is easy and rear seat legroom is never at a premium.
Power for the 2016 Lexus RX 350 comes in the form of a 3.5-litre V6 gasoline-powered engine. It delivers a vigorous 295 horsepower at 6,300 rpm and 268 lb-ft of torque at 4,700 rpm. F Sport Series 3 and Executive/Executive Plus option packages include a 15-speaker Mark Levinson audio system, a panoramic glass roof and all-natural leather seating surfaces to name a few.
The 2016 Lexus RX 450h is the newest hybrid model. It highlights a smooth-driving Atkinson-cycle V6 engine matched with Lexus Hybrid Drive to deliver a responsive 308 horsepower and 247 lb-ft of torque at 4,600 rpm. Driving ninety minutes from the airport in Quebec City to the hotel in Charlevoix, I am sufficiently impressed with the 450h to conclude this would be my personal preference to drive were it not for the nearly $15,000 premium price.
The most coveted drive of the vehicles available for test drive is most certainly the redesigned Lexus LX 570. Direct comparisons for this large, fully-capable SUV are few and far between; with Range Rover and Toyota’s own Land Cruiser (not available in Canada) being the closest. New features abound in the 2016 version, but at the core not much has changed with the new LX 570 and for the most part, that’s a good thing.
Power is obviously an important consideration when a vehicle weighs 3,350 kg (gross vehicle weight) and stretches across the pavement with a total length of 5,080 mm. Under the hood resides a 5.7-litre V8 gasoline-powered engine matched to a brand new 8-speed automatic transmission. It tracks through mud and snow with ease, powering all four wheels with 383 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 403 lb-ft of torque at 3,600 rpm.
Body on frame construction provides a solid platform for driving on or through almost anything. Towing capacity is set at 3,175 kg, more than enough for most boats and house trailers. Active Height Control lowers the body by 51 mm, making it easier to get in or out of the 2016 Lexus LX 570.
New LED headlights, turn signals and fog lights dominate the revised one-piece spindle front grille. The rear taillights and bumper also see minor upgrades. Revised 20” alloy wheels look impressive on the outside, closely matching the overall elegance of the LX 570. Inside, a new 12.3-inch screen with remote touch access and standard Heads-Up display make it easy to navigate the dash. Second row passengers will appreciate the new 11.6 screens for watching movies or playing video games.
Cargo space is excellent with power-folding 3rd row seats that tuck and roll to the side for increased storage when not in use. Four-zone climate control is standard, as is LED interior lighting. The look and feel of the new LX 570 is luxurious inside and out.
On the downside, rear seat legroom remains at a premium, which given its size should not be an issue. As well, I find the new 8-speed transmission seems to hunt endlessly for the right gear when using cruise control. Maybe it was the mountainous terrain near Charlevoix, but on a long trip I would find the constant lurching back-and-forth frustrating.
Our day ended with a snow-bound trip to the hills and some spirited off-road driving on a manmade course. It was at this time in the event when Lexus added the 2016 NX 200t to the mix and it too performed admirably. With winter weather coming soon to the great white north, Lexus has more than one vehicle ready for the worst and best of all-wheel driving.
2017 Lexus LX 570
Configuration: front engine/ all-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 5.7L eight-cylinder / 8-speed automatic
Power/torque: 383 hp/ 403 lb-ft
Fuel (capacity): Regular (93L)
Fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): 18.3 city, 12.9 hwy
Warranty (basic): 4 years/80,000 km
Competitors: Cadillac Escalade, Infiniti QX80, Lincoln Navigator, Range Rover