Test Drive: 2016 Lexus LX 570 SUV

Courtesy Lexus

The carmaker’s flagship SUV gets an all-new look and feel, making this luxury vehicle better (and plusher) than ever before.

It’s raining so hard that I’m leaving a wake in the road behind me, but the deluge doesn’t really worry me since I’m driving the 2016 Lexus LX 570 flagship SUV. This is the vehicle Noah would take to the Ark if he were around today: Its big enough to seat eight, versatile in all kinds of conditions, and powerful enough to tow a boat, thanks to a V-8 engine with 383 horsepower.

The 2016 LX570 has been completely revamped, and the only things remaining from previous incarnations are the door panels. For starters, the front end features a bolder look for Lexus’s signature spindle grille, front and rear LED headlights are new, and there’s a restyled bumper. But, the revisions are more than skin deep. The automatic transmission has been upgraded from six to eight gears for improved performance and efficiency and there’s a new drive mode with a range of choices (four in total) that affect handling. (But if you ask me, choosing either Sport mode says you’re wishing you bought a sports car rather than a SUV.) There also is a multi-terrain selector—the Active Traction Control System (A-TRAC)—to improve handling on different types of road surfaces like mud, dirt, rock, or sand. The LX 570 is a four-wheel drive vehicle, but the normal torque split is 40:60 favoring the rear wheels so the car can power up a hill without wheezing. The torque adjusts to changing driving conditions as required and can be locked for challenging off-road conditions.

There are a lot of creature comforts, entertainment options, and safety features, too. One of my favorites is a new standard 360-degree panoramic camera, which would be really handy if I were to hitch and tow a trailer. Another is the Turn Assist feature that adds braking power to the inside rear wheel to tighten the vehicle’s turning radius, making it easier to maneuver such a large vehicle in confined spaces.

A neat trick is a pushbutton that folds up the rear seats to the side so you don’t have to muscle them into another position when extra cargo room is needed. Plus, the rear cargo door splits, turning the bottom half into a prime (makeshift) tailgating seat. I also fancy the shifter, which is reminiscent of one you might find in a sports car—a nice touch of whimsy that made driving the LX570 even more fun. The center console cool box should be a standard feature in every SUV—you’ll never have to drink a warm beverage on a long drive ever again.

I’m pulling up to my destination and I turn off the ignition. The steering wheel retracts and the seat slides rearward. The chassis automatically lowers itself two inches so it’s easier for me to get out of the SUV. It’s like a servant bringing over a footstool. Yes, the LX570 is starting to make me feel a little spoiled.

From $88,880; lexus.com.