Call it the 17-year itch. After more than a decade, a homeowner might pick up a few decorating magazines and open up some cans of paint. For Lexus and its flagship sport utility vehicle, LX 570, the year 2013 marks the model's 17th year of production. It's proving to be one of those freshen-up-the-curtains kind of times for a vehicle that is often called the "Out of Africa" model and a true stalwart in the Australian Outback.

Significant-but-subtle changes to the exterior design and a few tweaks to the interior help to give this big SUV a nice facelift, while the 5.7-liter V-8 drivetrain and other primary essentials remain the same, such as its body-on-frame construction.

The 2013 LX 570 presents a shiny face, with Lexus' updated grille, sharply slanted headlamps and bigger fog lamp bezels integrated into the low-hanging air dam. The SUV's sides are designed with wider moldings and mirrors that have integrated turn signals, while the rear bumper has a nice stainless steel accent and a smoother integration for the tow hitch. The rear split liftgate still has a power upper section and manual lower section; standard 20-inch rims have been updated with a double-spoke star design.

The vast and sumptuous interior is updated with a few creature comforts. Heated and cooled front seats have a better cooling function, while an automatic retraction system adjusts the steering wheel and driver's seat; when the ignition is turned off, this butler-like technology makes it easier to get in and out of the eight-seater. A new interior color, off-white, is available, and the dash and center stack are updated with dark chrome accents.

Priced at $81,530, the full-sized LX 570 has three rows of seats and four-zone climate control. For 2013, the second row adds a 120-volt power point for charging a variety of gadgets and devices. Standard features also include front power-seat cushion extenders, a rear back-up camera, navigation and a nine-speaker AM/FM/CD/iPod/USB stereo system. The App Suite, which hooks up with a mobile phone, is included, as are high-definition radio and Bluetooth connectivity.

The Lexus LX 570 retains the same big, beefy powertrain that can tow up to 7,000 pounds: a 5.7-liter V-8 that makes 383 horsepower and 403 lb.-ft. of torque. Combined with a six-speed automatic transmission and full-time 4WD transfer case, the powerplant rates 12 mpg in the city, 18 mpg highway.

All-wheel traction control, stability control and hill-start assist are standard features. Automatic height control lifts and lowers the chassis when needed to enter a low parking garage or other tight spaces. Four-wheel ABS with brake assist is standard, as are 10 airbags.

We drove the 2013 LX 570 on back country ranch roads, enjoying the off-road prowess that comes from parent company Toyota Land Cruiser's heritage; once a basic 4WD utility, the LX 570 has carried over its rough-and-rugged credibility while also transforming into an upscale eight-passenger ride.

A collection of modern-day aids allowed us to relax at the wheel, and mostly point and steer, when engaging low range with the vehicle's two-speed transfer case that is backed by a Torsen limited-slip and locking differential. Other aids are Multi-terrain Select with a four-camera monitor; Off-Road Turn Assist and an improved Crawl Control, for steep and rigorous terrain.

We also drove the LX 570 on paved roads, too. In general, it handles beautifully, with a potent and powerful drivetrain and brakes that are designed to mitigate speed smoothly. Our only complaint is the suspension, which tends to have more softness than we prefer.

Other technologies of note for on-road driving are the LX 570's pre-collision system, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and Trailer Sway control, a safety and traction aid for owners who pull heavy loads.

The 2013 Lexus LX 570 comes in one model, with several options packages available. These include a Luxury Package, with a cool box for beverages, semi-aniline leather-trimmed upholstery with contrast stitching, heated steering wheel and mahogany wood trimmed door switch plates, heated and ventilated front seats, and heated second-row seats. Also available are a rear dual screen rear-seat entertainment system with wireless headphones and a 19-speaker Mark Levinson stereo system.

SPECIFICATIONS

2013 LEXUS LX 570

VEHICLE TYPE_________________ 8-passenger full-size 4WD SUV

BASE PRICE___________________ $81,530 (as tested: $82,425)

MOTOR TYPE__________________32-valve V-8 w/SFI

DISPLACEMENT________________ 5.7-liter

HORSEPOWER (net)_____________ 383 at 5600 rpm

TORQUE (lb.-ft.)________________ 403 at 3600 rpm

TRANSMISSION_________________ 6-speed automatic

OVERALL LENGTH_______________197.0 in.

TURNING CIRCLE (curb-to-curb)___ 38.7 ft.

CURB WEIGHT__________________ 6,000 lbs.

FUEL CAPACITY________________ 24.6 gal.

EPA MILEAGE RATING___________12 mpg city, 18 mpg highway