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The Lexus LX 470 combines outstanding off-road capability with first-class accommodations and a smooth ride. LX 470 is powered by a smooth and powerful 4.7-liter V8 and is rated to tow up to 5,000 pounds. The interior is elegant and well equipped. It can seat up to eight passengers. Another LX 470 feature is that it comes from Lexus, which offers the best quality, durability and reliability in the business, with retailers dedicated to customer satisfaction.
The LX 470 benefits from significant revisions made last year (2003) along with state-of-the-art technological interior advancements added this year. Model year 2004 adds a rear back-up camera and updates the navigation system. The video camera displays what's behind the vehicle and can help you avoid backing over objects, such as a child on a tricycle. Bluetooth has been added to the system as well, allowing hands-free operation of your cell phone without having to pull it out of your jacket pocket or purse. All of this comes standard.
The front styling was revised for 2003, giving the LX 470 a much-needed freshening. More important were the addition of curtain airbags designed to protect passengers in the event of a side impact or rollover, and new seat-mounted side-impact airbags for the front seats. A new five-speed automatic transmission brings more responsive performance, while a new steering system improves maneuverability and steering feel.
These changes improve what remains a superbly engineered product. It has now been five years since the current-generation LX 470 was introduced, however, so this big Lexus SUV faces competition from the more-expensive BMW-engineered Range Rover and the less expensive but powerful Cadillac Escalade.
The Lexus LX 470 ($64,175) is available as one fully loaded model. It's equipped with the 4.7-liter V8, a new 5-speed automatic, and the latest in off-road and accident-avoidance technology. That technology includes a full-time four-wheel-drive system with a locking center differential and four-wheel traction control. It also includes an adaptive suspension with variable-rate damping and adjustable height control and big P275/70HR18 mud-and-snow tires on 18-inch alloy wheels. It also includes four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and vehicle skid control.
LX 470 comes standard with a sumptuous leather interior and a boggling list of luxury and convenience features. Just a few of the many standard features: leather upholstery, automatic climate control front and rear, power moonroof, and power seats, doors, locks and windows. Also standard is a DVD-based navigation system and a premium AM/FM/cassette stereo system with a six-disc DVD/CD auto changer, seven speakers, automatic sound leveling and a separate rear-seat audio system. Put it in Park and watch a movie on the navigation screen. Put it in Drive and the navigation system will respond to voice commands.
Standard safety equipment is impressive: frontal, side-impact and curtain airbags, seat belts with pretensioners and force limiters, and a first aid kit. The curtain airbags are designed to provide head protection for the four outboard passengers in the front and second-row seats in a side impact or rollover. Windshield wipers adjust for rain automatically and the windshield is coated with water repellant. Optional Lexus Link ($1,215) sends the rescue squad if you press an emergency button or if one of the airbags goes off and you don't respond.
Options include a rear-seat DVD entertainment system that plays movies on a 6.5-inch overhead screen and a brilliant Mark Levinson audio system ($1,280). Night View ($2,200) is available, which uses near-infrared technology to illuminate people, deer and other objects at night up to 500 feet away and display them on a section of the windshield in front of the driver. There's also a roof rack with cross bars ($220) and a rear spoiler ($280).
The LX 470 looks big, but it's actually shorter than the Lexus LS 430 sedan and is designed fit into a typical two-car garage.
Lexus freshened the front styling for 2003 with a new grille and bumper and independent four-beam projector headlights with green-tint lenses. The tail lamps were also redesigned. The LX 470 presents a more upscale appearance than the Toyota Land Cruiser, its distant cousin. Body cladding, integrated running boards, a chrome Lexus grille, and elegant use of paint contribute to this impression.
Lexus makes beautiful interiors and the LX 470 lives up to that reputation. Three rows of seating are provided here. The LX 470 has capacity for eight people and seats six luxuriously. Large door openings make getting in and out easy.
The front seats are supremely comfortable. There's a good view of the road ahead while large outside mirrors provide good rearward visibility. Attractive bird's-eye maple trim adds an upscale look to the rich leather upholstery. The steering wheel and shift knob are handsomely finished in a combination of wood and leather.
Every imaginable luxury feature is provided. Big rear quarter windows swing out at the touch of a pair of dash-mounted buttons. Side mirrors retract electrically for parking in tight quarters. Auxiliary power outlets are provided in the dash, center console and rear cargo area. A trip computer, digital clock, and compass are provided. A hydrocarbon sensor automatically switches the air to the Recirculate mode when high levels of air pollution are detected, while an activated charcoal micron filter removes dust, pollen, and odors from the interior air stream, a benefit for hay fever sufferers. Automatic climate controls are integrated into the navigation system. Steering wheel audio controls were added for 2003, an improvement.
The navigation system screen can be used to watch DVD movies, but only when the transmission is in Park to eliminate any temptation to watch and drive at the same time. The audio portion of the movie can be played over the system while moving, though. The navigation system can be operated with voice commands.
The rearmost jump seats are among the best designs we've seen of their type. They are comfortable and relatively easy to access. They can be folded aside when not in use, but they are a bit larger than others of their type and take up some cargo space. Removing them provides an additional 15 cubic feet of cargo capacity for a maximum of 90.4 cubic feet, less than the Cadillac Escalade (104) but significantly more than the new Range Rover (62). With the rear jump folded to the sides and the second-row seats set up to carry passengers, the LX 470 offers 39.2 cubic feet of cargo space, much better than the Range Rover (19).
Other interior features include a sophisticated security feature for the remote keyless entry system, child safety seat anchors for the second row seat, a digital compass integrated into the auto-dimming rearview mirror, and good rear cupholders. Cargo net hooks have been added for 2004.
The optional rear-seat DVD entertainment system plays movies over a 6.5-inch wide-format overhead screen that deploys from the headliner ahead of the second row. The DVD player is mounted in the cargo area (in the right rear quarter panel) and the system includes two sets of wireless headphones and a remote control. Parents report that these systems help eliminate the phrase "Don't make me stop and come back there" from their vocabulary.
In spite of the amazing off-road capability it offers, the Lexus LX 470 is smooth and quiet on the road. At high speeds, there is some wind noise coming from the vicinity of the large mirrors, but with a vehicle this immense, these mirrors are something we would not want to do without.
The Lexus 32-valve 4.7-liter V8 is smooth, quiet, and powerful. It produces good low-rpm torque. Fully 80 percent of the peak output (256 pounds-feet) is available at just 1,100 rpm. That provides responsive low-speed performance and power for towing or scaling steep terrain. This 4.7-liter V8 features four camshafts (dohc) and four valves per cylinder (32v). While it produces only 235 horsepower, it generates a solid 320 pounds-feet of torque at 3400 rpm. Torque, that force that propels you up steep hills and launches you away from intersections, is more important for heavy vehicles than horsepower. Lexus says the LX 470 can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 9.7 seconds and can cover the standing quarter-mile in 17.5 seconds. That's not quick by anyone's standards, but it's plenty for safe highway merging if you put down the throttle. This engine meets California's Low Emissions Vehicle standard. It runs fine on 87 octane (Regular) gas, but Lexus recommends 91 octane.
A new five-speed automatic transmission was added for 2003, replacing the previous four-speed. The added ratio makes better use of the engine's torque.
The suspension provides a comfortable ride on winding back roads and bumpy highways, yet is capable of climbing any mountain, fording any stream. The rack-and-pinion steering provides sharp response. The steering system was upgraded for 2003 for improved maneuverability at low speeds and better steering feel at high speeds. It's easy to turn the steering wheel in crowded parking lots. (The tooth spacing on the steering gears becomes wider toward the end of the steering rack, reducing steering effort at large steering angles. A computer-controlled actuator in the steering shaft above the rack increases boost at very large steering angles, such as those used in a parking lot.) Yet the steering does not isolate the driver at speed on the open road.
The LX 470 comes with an Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS), which allows the driver to adjust the damping between soft or firm settings. It's controlled electronically using feedback from various road sensors; the system constantly adjusts the semi-active shocks among 16 settings according to conditions. It's a sophisticated system and it works extremely well. The LX 470 rides smoothly over unpaved roads, but inspires driver confidence with taut response on winding country roads.
Like the Range Rover, the LX 470 features adjustable ride height. Press a button and the hydropneumatic system raises and lowers the vehicle nearly 4 inches. This allows the driver to increase ground clearance for climbing over obstacles or lower ride height for highway cruising. It also makes climbing in and out of the vehicle easier when all dressed up for a night on the town.
The LX 470 uses a true full-time four-wheel-drive system with a center differential that splits the power 50/50 front/rear. The system is always engaged and requires no intervention by the driver. Throw in a locking center differential, a rear limited-slip differential and lots of suspension articulation and only the driver, or worn out tires, can be blamed for sticking one of these in the mud. The system is adept at handling the rigors of slippery winter weather or deep mud or snow. The driver can shift into low range for driving on steep off-road inclines.
Big 18x8-inch wheels come standard and are fitted with 275/60R18 mud-and-snow tires.
The anti-lock brake system operates even in low range and is designed to offer better performance off road than traditional ABS by avoiding early activation on slippery slopes. ABS intervention decreases as road surface roughness increases or the grad
The Lexus LX 470 features a beautiful interior and superior off-road capability. It provides a quiet interior with a smooth ride and good handling.
Minor styling revisions made last year freshen the appearance of the LX 470, but it lacks the daring (or obnoxious) presence of the $51,055 Cadillac Escalade or the panache of the $71,200 Range Rover.
Still, if you want big, luxurious, and capable, then the Lexus LX 470 is an excellent choice. Its quality is first class and, with Lexus backing it up, it promises durability and reliability that are second to none along with dealers who care about customer satisfaction.