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Anyone out there planning to spend more than $100,000 for your next vehicle?
Neither am I.
But people are dropping that kind of cash for vehicles these days, and not necessarily exotic cars, such as Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini, Maserati, etc. Nowadays, people who are buying SUVs sometimes want their trucks big and roomy and powerful, and also filled from the alloy wheels to the panoramic sunroof with luxury features.
We can’t really blame them for wanting their SUVs and luxury too, so today let’s look briefly at a pair of companies that have taken decidedly different paths on their way to more than $100,000 – the Lincoln Navigator and the Lexus LX600 F-Sport.
First, the Navigator. Ford’s Lincoln luxury brand has upgraded the already fancy Navigator so that for 2022, it can offer a top-of-the-line Black Label version, which takes a swing at claiming the height of luxury, if you closely examine the stitching on the dashboard and doors and seats.
Those seats are well bolstered buckets that are as comfortable and supportive as any I’ve ever sat in – with the possible exception of Volvo’s legendary buckets. The Nav’s seats are made out of Venetian leather with Pergola micro-perforations – the better to let heat or cooling air circulate and help you beat the season’s weather.
The driver’s comfort offers a great throne for putting the huge Navigator into motion and controlling it around curves and sharp turns. Flicking a console button lets you change driving/suspension modes to accommodate any terrain on highways or if you venture off them.
The power in the Navigator is the largest of Ford’s array of Eco-Boost power plants, the turbocharged 3.5-liter V6.
Luxury buyers may scoff at the lack of a V8, but the V6 develops 440 horsepower and a whopping 510 foot-pounds of trailer-towing torque. There are a lot of truck and SUV V8s that don’t have that kind of power.
The Nav runs that power through a 10-speed Select-Shift automatic, selected by first locating, then executing the pushbutton panel right about in the middle of the center-stack on the dashboard.
The color was Chrome Caviar Dark Gray, which looked black when I first saw the vehicle in subdued light, but could become an attractive medium gray when the bright sun hit it just right.
The rear buckets of the three-row Navigator feature a massage feature that turns the heated and cooled seats into something of a spa experience for rear-seat occupants. Third-row seats flip down easily for added storage space.
The price for all that luxury and feature-filled Black Label add-ons went from a base $102,980 to an as-tested figure of $107,050.
While Lincoln tried to expand the reach at the upper echelon of contemporary luxury, many might find some of the gadgets and features an over-reach.
Some want their luxury more traditional and simpler, and for them, the alternative might be the Lexus LX600 – but not the garden-variety LX600, but the sportier F-Sport Handling model, which is an interesting exercise in taking the largest SUV – based on the Toyota Land Cruiser and Tundra pickup platform – and then turn it into an agile, sport-handling vehicle.
It does work, with the use of drive mode control. You sit up high, appreciative of all the luxury around you, and they keep telling you to take the LX 600 off road, because it will live up to the company’s reputation for heavy-duty off-roading, such as in the Tundra TRD model. 600 F-Sport listed for $105,005, in order to meet the competition in luxury and features.
From the outside, the Lexus signature grille is overdone in black on the LC600, reaching from the top of the hood almost down below the bumper, and blacked in, for sportiness.
Speaking of the Tundra, which has been thoroughly revised after 15 years, it shares Toyota’s outstanding 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6, with a 10-speed transmission, 409 horsepower and 479 foot-pounds of torque, making it easy to reach the 8,000-pound towing capacity. The Tundra has a must-shift two-speed transfer case, while the Lexus requires no such menial labor. It is full-time four-wheel drive.
A Torsen limited-slip differential, and the F-Sport up-grade, which adds specially-tuned suspension, a rear stabilizer bar and performance dampers, makes the large beast handle with surprising agility.
Inside the Lexus, which seats seven, there are heated and cooled ventilated seats both in the first and second rows, thematic ambient lighting, a power-operated third-row seat for folding down the backrest. And the power-operated sunroof, that reaches back over the second row of seats.
I do, however, have a major bone to pick with the Lexus folks. Why, I ask, does the radio require more than the week-long test drive I had to tune the radio? I don’t mean for sound through the wonderful audio system. I mean just to set the stations for preset. I tried everything, and my wife, Joan, tried everything, and sometimes we both tried at the same time, which led to a few disagreements.
I found the most direct way was to click on the little musical note in the left border, then hit source, which gives you a choice of type of frequency-band you’d like. Then click on XM. That gives you a list of stations. We both prefer the satellite Outlaw station, because it plays a good brand of Waylon Jennings-type country music, but it’s No. 60, so it’s a pain to scroll up from 1 to 60, but we got there. Click it and you get your choice broadcast. However, it defaults back to previously preset stations, so you must repeat the procedure every time you want to change stations.
And if you want to listen to a ball game, you hit AM and do the same thing to get the frequency you want. If it’s lopsided, source, or finally ends, you have to go back to the music icon, then source, then XM, an then up from 1 to 60.
Why don’t companies – especially luxury vehicle makers – simplify the audio controls? My favorite is one where you can mingle XM, FM and AM all on one six-station listing, then change among your favorites at the tap of a button, or a steering wheel remote. We should expect no less for $105,005.
Both vehicles had steering-wheel paddles for manual control of their 10-speeds, and both got less than 20 miles per gallon, ranging from 15 city to 19 on the highway.