When an auto maker badges a vehicle Ultra Luxury, as opposed to mere regular luxury, you know that decadence and hedonism is going to slathered all over, like icing on a wedding cake.
Behold the fancy new Lexus LX 600 Ultra Luxury flagship, with more bells, whistles, and high-end doodads than Brookstone store at the mall.
Take the back seats, for example. These side-by-side, diamond-quilted-leather Barcaloungers can recline, heat, cool, and massage your weary body. The seat on the passenger side even has a levitating footrest, just like on Jay-Z’s jet.
Which is kinda what you should expect when the sticker in the window reads a jaw-descending $127,345. Yikes.
If this new LX 600 looks vaguely familiar, it’s the long-awaited replacement for the crusty, old LX 570 that had been around longer than great white sharks and the humble cockroach.
While the 570 was based closely on Toyota’s tough-as-nails Land Cruiser 4×4, this new 600 rides on an all-new Toyota-developed, I-Beam-stiff frame chassis. Think of it as Rambo in a tux.
The other big news is that traditional V8 power for the LX has been jettisoned in favor of a slightly more eco-friendly twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6. But don’t worry, it still packs a bigger punch than George Foreman in his prime.
Max power is now a healthy 409-hp, which is 26-hp up on the old V8. Max torque – a better indication of performance – is now up to 479 lb-ft, which is a 76 lb-ft increase. Coupled to a quick-shifting 10-speed automatic, the 600 can haul itself to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds.
As you might expect, the big V6 is thirsty. Think 17 miles per gallon in the city and 19 combined. Yet, believe it or not, those figures are a big improvement on the old V8-powered 570 which would struggle to average 14-to-the-gallon around town.
But before we continue, a word about styling. What you have with this new LX 600 is simply the biggest application yet of the love-it-or-loath-it spindle grille.
Here, the seven double-bars cascade like Niagara Falls from the mile-high hood all the way down to ground level. See it approaching fast and filling your rear-view, and trust me, you’re moving over.
But beneath the towering body is some impressive technology to smooth-out the ride and quell excessive body roll. Everything from electric-assist steering, four-corner air suspension, hydraulic Active Height Control, adaptive dampers, and full-time four-wheel drive.
And when it comes to taking the road less traveled, only Land Rover’s mighty Range Rover packs as much hill-ascending, mud-plugging off-road tech.
Back on the blacktop, the big Lexus actually drives extremely well. The twin-turbo V6 packs a solid punch to deliver swift off-the-line acceleration and impressive mid-range muscle for easy passing.
That air suspension also does a fine job of smoothing out lumps and bumps, though it has a tough time quelling body roll through the turns.
Behind the wheel you get your information from a 12.3-inch touchscreen and lower 7.0-inch display, with lots of old-school physical buttons to press and twist, rather than on-screen controls.
In fact, the entire cabin feels a little retro and old school. I can’t remember the last, high-dollar luxury SUV I drove that came with a teeny sunroof with a manual shade, as opposed to mega-sized panoramic glass panels.
Despite its flagship status, this new LX 600 comes in no fewer than five flavors, starting with the base model at $88,245. Add to that the Premium, F Sport, Luxury, and Ultra Luxury.
Competition, naturally, is tough with such stand-out rivals as Cadillac’s Escalade, BMW’s X7, Mercedes’ GLS, Lincoln’s Navigator, the Jeep Grand Wagoneer, and the class-benchmark, the redesigned Range Rover.
In this vaulted company, maybe Lexus using the title Ultra Luxury is just a bit of a stretch. Maybe Grille Meister would have been a better choice.