Technology on Parade

By Derek Price

Ever forget your car keys?

Genesis has solved that problem by putting biometric technology in its new GV60 electric SUV, one of the most inventive and theatrical vehicles I’ve ever driven.

After a short setup process, the car is able to scan your face and fingerprint to recognize you as the driver. A facial recognition camera on the door, plus a fingerprint scanner on the center console, mean you can leave the key fob at home and use your own body to unlock the car, start it up and drive away.

You can keep driving a long time, too, with up to 248 miles of electric range and the ability to do ultra-fast, 350-kW charging. When you buy it, you get free 30-minute charging sessions at Electrify America stations for the first three years.

Step inside the GV60 — which was developed from the ground up to be a fully electric car, built on the same underpinnings as the excellent Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 — and one of the things that strikes you is all the visual theater that unfolds.

Door handles lie flush with the body when the doors are unlocked. They pop out with a science-fiction flourish when you unlock the car.

When you sit down, a crystal orb glows on the center console. It rolls over and turns into a rotary gear selector when you press the “start” button, an elaborate show that is both completely pointless and super cool.

The Genesis GV60 shows what a relatively young luxury brand can do with an all-electric design. It has up to 248 miles of range and a futuristic, theatrical flair.

Inside and out, the GV60’s designers have mixed the oh-so-familiar basic crossover shape with Futurama extras that add interest. It looks more distinctive and original than most electric cars, although it still leaves me wishing for more unrestrained, 1950s-style design elements that would take better advantage of the blank slate that battery packs and small motors provide.
EVs are revolutionary, and they should look the part.

One exception is the paint color on my tester, Sao Paulo Lime, which is wonderfully wild and unrestrained. I’d suggest Genesis use a more accurate name such as Tennis Ball, Highlighter or Safety Vest, but that kind of color boldness shows the GV60 isn’t afraid to be fun and different.

It offers a luxurious experience, for sure, but not the Old World, stuffy kind.

The interior is thoroughly modern with a contemporary, tech-forward design. Materials are plush and solid, making it feel like one of the better built electric cars I’ve ever driven.

You could spend hours learning about all the entertainment and creature-comfort features that are programmed into this car, but my favorites are the ones that happen serendipitously. At one point in a long drive, for example, the driver’s seat started applying a little lumbar pressure to my lower back. The GV60 seemed to magically know it had been a long time in that position and I needed a stretch.

Two versions are available, both of which have all-wheel drive. The Advanced makes 234 kW (314 horsepower) with a 248-mile range. My tester was the Performance model with 320 kW (429 horsepower) that delivers a whole lot more speed and a slightly reduced range of 235 miles.

It’s hard to find anything to dislike about the vehicle itself. The GV60 has a soft and near-silent highway ride, powerful acceleration, good range and an astoundingly comfortable cabin, all wrapped in a handsome design.

It’s easy to find things I dislike about using an electric car at the moment, though, like regularly driving up to non-working charging stations and having to wait my turn to do an “ultra-fast” charge, which still takes longer than a splash of gasoline at the pump.

If you’ve got a gasoline vehicle for road trips, though, and install a charger in your garage, the GV60 makes for an outstanding daily driving experience that’s hard to beat, regardless of what’s powering it.

Pricing starts at $58,890 for the Advanced or $67,890 for the Performance model.

At A Glance

What was tested? 2023 Genesis GV60 Performance ($67.890). Options: None.  Price as tested (including $1,095 destination charge): $68,985
Wheelbase: 114.2 in.
Length: 177.8 in.
Width: 74.4 in.
Height: 62.2 in.
Motor: 320 kW (429 hp, 516 lbs. ft.)
Range: 235 miles

Style: 10
Performance: 8
Price: 7
Handling: 7
Ride: 8
Comfort: 9
Quality: 8
Overall: 8

Why buy it?
The all-electric GV60 is fast, quiet, eye-catching and offers a lot of luxury for the money. It’s a strong option for buyers ready to make the leap into an upscale electric car.

Posted in Genesis

Type S Expansion

By Derek Price

Acura’s most legendary high-performance cars have all worn the same badge: Type S.
Now Honda’s upscale brand is applying that badge in a way it never has before by putting it on the biggest, most family-friendly SUV it sells.
Whether you think the new MDX Type S is blasphemy or not, much like when Porsche first started building the Cayenne, it doesn’t matter. It’s the reality of what many of today’s luxury buyers want.
Why choose between exciting performance and everyday practicality when you can have both in one vehicle?
The MDX Type S answers that question with a whole slew of performance upgrades that make it dramatically sharper, faster and more thrilling from the driver’s seat.
Not surprisingly, that starts with extra power. A turbocharged, 3.0-liter V6 makes 355 horsepower, a whopping 65 more than in the base MDX.
What I like about this engine isn’t just the raw speed, which is nice, but how fast it responds to throttle input. I couldn’t notice a hint of turbo lag, and with peak torque of 354 pound-feet arriving at just 1,400 RPM, it makes the nearly 4,800-pound vehicle feel much smaller than it is.

Acura is applying its fast and exciting Type S treatment to the new MDX this year. Pricing starts at $66,700, roughly $20,000 more than the base MDX.

Fortunately, in true Type S fashion, the upgrades don’t stop with a power boost. Everything about the go-fast MDX feels different from the regular version I drove a few months ago.
Gigantic Brembo brakes — with calipers painted look-at-me red, of course — bring the MDX’s significant mass to a stop with confidence. The 10-speed automatic transmission is tuned for faster shifts, and seven different driving modes let you alter the MDX’s personality from mild to aggressive.
Years ago, a Type S would also come with a suspension tight enough to knock out your fillings. The MDX Type S feels firmer than the regular version for sure, but it’s also capable of supreme comfort when you need it thanks to the modern miracle of adaptive dampers. Three different damping profiles let you pick how hard or soft you want the suspension to feel for any given drive.
The Advance package, the only option on the Type S, adds premium features including a 25-speaker sound system, power liftgate and head-up display. It also delivers a more premium experience with open-pore wood trim, acoustic laminated glass in the rear doors and thicker floor mats and carpeting.

Massaging front seats with nine settings are included in the Advance package on the MDX Type S.

The Advance package also adds massaging seats, one of my favorite features you can get on a modern luxury car. The seats in my tester had nine modes to “calm the driver and front passenger after a spirted drive,” as Acura puts it. I found it more fitting for long, boring highway trips and daily commutes, pretty much the opposite of the Type S ethos.
An all-new design makes the ordinary MDX a great starting point for Type S visual updates, with its elongated hood and sharper, muscular lines. The performance model is designed for both style and function, including a distinctive grille and front air splitter that provide roughly 10 percent better airflow to the engine.
It’s also proof that a three-row luxury SUV doesn’t have to look like an angry Mack Truck to be attractive.
It’s actually good design, which is more than I can say about most of the three-row SUVs being introduced today that look more like heavy-duty work trucks than luxurious machines designed for comfort and fun.
In contrast to some of the over-the-top grilles from Lexus and BMW SUVs in particular, the MDX stands out for being tastefully restrained. It’s handsome and eye-catching without being outlandish.
Pricing starts at $66,700 for the MDX Type S, which is roughly $20,000 more than the base MDX. With the Advance package, it’s priced at $72,050.

At A Glance

What was tested? 2022 Acura MDX Type S advance ($72,050). Options: None.  Price as tested (including $1,045 destination charge): $73,095
Wheelbase: 113.8 in.
Length: 198.4 in.
Width: 78.7 in.
Height: 67.1 in.
Engine: 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 (355 hp, 354 lbs. ft.)
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Fuel Economy: 17 city, 21 highway

Style: 9
Performance: 9
Price: 7
Handling: 9
Ride: 8
Comfort: 9
Quality: 9
Overall: 9

Why buy it?
It’s a serious performance and luxury upgrade for the already impressive new-generation MDX. Driving dynamics are fantastic for a family-friendly, three-row SUV.

Posted in Acura

Capability Reimagined

By Derek Price

If you want the new-generation Land Cruiser, you’re out of luck. Toyota decided not to sell it in the United States.
If you’ve got enough funds, though, you can buy it in a slightly different guise as the Lexus LX 600. While it isn’t being sold with a Toyota badge anymore, the LX is essentially the all-new global Land Cruiser wrapped up in a shinier package.
This fresh LX, the flagship of Lexus’ SUV lineup, is designed with the same mission in mind as the old one: traveling off-road in supreme comfort. It actually looks and feels like a contemporary vehicle, though, something the outgoing model couldn’t claim with a straight face.
On the looks side, the LX carries the same kind of oversized, villainous visage that’s so popular on today’s large SUVs. Whether that’s good or bad is a matter of personal taste, but it doesn’t shy away from controversy with a grill that seems big enough to swallow a Mack Truck.
The back end is more subdued and understated compared to the front, but the biggest visual “wow” factor comes when you open the doors and take a very high step inside.
A sleek, beautifully designed interior has the tailored, bespoke look of a private jet. It’s a night-and-day difference compared to the decade-old feel of last year’s model.

The Lexus LX is the only way Americans can get their hands on the newest global Toyota Land Cruiser platform. This off-road SUV has been completely redesigned to for wider appeal.

Part of that is because of the sumptuous material choices and easy-to-understand controls that finally dump some of the frustrating things, such as touchpads, that Lexus bafflingly clung to for so many years.
Part of it also comes from technology that’s legitimately good, including little design details that help it seem more friendly than most luxury cars.
When you give the LX voice controls, for example, it doesn’t abruptly cut off the sound system while you’re talking. The music can keep playing while you interact with the car or through your smartphone.
The center console can be chilled to keep drinks cold, which isn’t particularly innovative on high-end SUVs. But the lid to the cooler is hinged in a way that lets you open it from either the driver’s or passenger’s side, an ingenious touch.
Performance is strong from its 409-horsepower, twin-turbocharged V6 engine, which feels just as indulgent as the wonderful V8 did in the outgoing model. My hope is that the new engine will have the same legendary reliability and durability as the old one, but only time will tell.
There are two new grades in the LX lineup.
One is the F SPORT grade, which I think makes very little sense but I suspect will sell like hotcakes. It has a limited-slip differential, sporty design touches and seats that provide lateral grip in turns,  all things that make perfect sense for a sports car and — as I see it — zero sense in an off-road SUV. Today’s buyers seem to like that sort of thing. Go figure.

The new Ultra Luxury grade comes with two reclining back seats with digital controls and a whopping 43 inches of leg room for relaxation on the road.

Even as a skeptic, though, I’ve got to admit my F SPORT tester handled exceptionally well for a huge SUV. Its adaptive suspension does a fantastic job controlling body roll in corners while still sopping up imperfections on the highway. There’s a dramatic difference between its sport settings and comfort settings, letting you pick the kind of driving experience you want at any given moment.
The second new grade makes more sense to me but probably won’t sell in big numbers: the new Ultra Luxury model. It’s designed to provide a VIP experience for back-seat passengers, including reclining seats with 43 inches of leg space. Who wouldn’t want to be whisked around in a soft, comfy recliner?
The Ultra Luxury grade carries a price premium of $39,100 over the base LX 600, which already isn’t cheap.
Pricing starts at $88,245 for the LX 600. The Premium model with an adaptive suspension starts at $96,345, while the F SPORT model with sportier handling is priced from $102,345.
The Luxury trim offers semi-aniline leather and an excellent Mark Levinson sound system for $104,345, while the Ultra Luxury grade with its VIP back seat is priced at $127,345.

At A Glance

What was tested? 2022 Lexus LX 600 F SPORT ($101,000). Options: Active height control ($1,300), Mark Levinson sound system ($2,660).  Price as tested (including $1,345 destination charge): $106,305
Wheelbase: 112.2 in.
Length: 200.2 in.
Width: 78.4 in.
Height: 74.6 in.
Engine: 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 (409 hp, 479 lbs. ft.)
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Fuel Economy: 17 city, 22 highway

Style: 7
Performance: 9
Price: 5
Handling: 6
Ride: 10
Comfort: 10
Quality: 10
Overall: 9

Why buy it?
It’s a thoroughly modern reimagining of the Toyota Land Cruiser through a glossy Lexus lens. It mixes outstanding off-road capability with contemporary design and technology.

Posted in Lexus