2008 Lexus LX570Posted on May 10th, 2008
New flagship sport-utility vehicle is a showcase for off-road technology
By Nina Russin
This year, Lexus replaces the full-sized LX470 with a new model that builds on its off-road heritage, and adds a more powerful engine. Full-time four-wheel drive with two gear ranges, a crawl control system, and adaptive suspension give the LX exceptional traction on unpaved roads. I wouldn’t be surprised to see one scale the side of a Mayan ruin.
On the downside, I’d hate to think what a trip across the Rubicon trail would do to the white pearl paint on the test truck. The vehicle’s sixteen-foot length and six-and-a-half foot width makes its less maneuverable than smaller sport-utility vehicles. Having watched running boards fall of the sides of previous models when driven off-road, I don’t expect the ones on the new LX to fare much better.
In the real world, the LX570 is a high-luxury, eight passenger vehicle that handles unpaved roads, ice and snow with aplomb. It has a powerful air conditioner tested in the Arizona desert, and special ceramic heating units that warm the interior up quickly on a cold Chicago morning. An option on the test car adds climate control seats for front-row passengers.
Adjustable ride height ensures that the LX570 will be able to clear the deepest snow banks the upper midwest can muster, while mud and snow tires enhance traction. Active safety features such as multi-terrain antilock brakes, and electronic stability control help the driver to maintain directional control on wet, hilly roads.
A towing capacity of 8500 pounds gives the LX570 enough power to haul a boat or a large trailer. Engineers maintained the body-on-frame construction and solid rear-axle on the previous model: the design makes the truck more robust and rigid for towing. Adjustable suspension damping gives the driver more control when towing a trailer.
More powerful, refined V8 engine
While I didn’t take the car off-road, I spent plenty of time behind the wheel of the LX570 in Phoenix traffic. A more powerful V8 engine with direct injection gives the full-sized sport-utility vehicle the performance of a much smaller car. It’s easy to have a lead foot behind the wheel of a 383-horsepower truck.
Most of the vehicle’s peak torque is available at very low speeds, making it easy to accelerate hard from a stop. The engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift option, providing some fuel economy improvements. Average combined fuel economy is about fourteen miles-per-gallon: not bad for a six thousand pound, four-wheel drive truck.
A park assist option on the test car makes it easy to slip into the average parking spot. It combines a rear back-up camera with front and side-view monitoring. Cameras mounted in the grille and under the passenger side-view mirror display areas beyond the driver’s range of vision on the navigation screen. The back-up camera image comes on automatically when the gearshift is in reverse. The driver uses a button on the dashboard to see the other perspectives. Using the cameras, I was able to back the truck into a spot between two other full-sized sport-utility vehicles, with just enough room on either side to open the doors.
Keyless entry and ignition means the driver never has to remove the key from his pocket. The remote pod automatically unlocks the door when the driver touches the door handle: a button on the door handle locks all four doors from the outside.
Standard adaptive suspension gives the LX570 car-like handling and adjustable ride height. The truck automatically lowers two inches with the ignition off to ease access and egress. When the driver shifts into low gear range, the vehicle raises an additional three inches to maximize ground clearance off-road. A high-mounted double wishbone front suspension provides nine inches of wheel travel to improve off-road traction.
A new crawl control feature replaces downhill descent control on previous models. With the car in low gear, the driver chooses one of three speed settings. The vehicle automatically maintains that speed on steep grades: the driver doesn’t have to use the brakes. Unlike downhill descent control, crawl control works in both forward and reverse gears.
Large ventilated disc brakes are firm and linear without being grabby. A new all-terrain antilock brake system prevents wheel slippage on both paved and unpaved surfaces.
Inside, the LX570 provides all of the amenities customers have come to expect from Lexus. Front-row seats on the test truck have optional climate control. Multiple seat adjustments, plus a tilt and telescoping steering wheel make it possible for drivers of all sizes to find a comfortable position. A memory function stores settings for up to three drivers. The steering wheel has redundant audio and telephone controls so the driver can stay focused on the road.
All four doors have map pockets and bottle holders. A large glovebox includes two storage shelves. Additional cupholders, large enough for bottles, are in the front center console, and in a fold-down armrest in back. Cupholders for third-row passengers are outboard of the seats.
Two twelve-volt outlets up front and a 115-volt converter in back provide plug-ins for electronic devices and chargers.
The navigation display is at the top of the center stack, with dual-zone temperature controls and audio controls beneath. Second-row passengers have separate dual-zone climate controls. Both first and second-row passengers should experience ample head, leg and shoulder room.
Third-row seats have enough legroom for children and smaller adults. Second-row seats flip forward and out of the way, making it easy to get in and out of the third row, or to extend the cargo floor.
The tailgate opens in two sections. A power control opens the top section. The bottom section opens and closes manually with minimal effort. A power control folds the third-row seats to the sides. The LX570 easily meats our ALV bicycle-friendly standards.
The optional Mark Levinson audio system provides exceptional surround sound throughout the cabin, and adds a six-disc CD changer. XM satellite radio and Lexus telematics, a system that allows drivers to call for emergency assistance 24 hours a day, are standard.
The LX570 comes standard with front, side, side curtain and front knee airbags, active front head restraints, a tire pressure monitoring system, all-terrain antilock braking, vehicle stability control and off-road traction control. A four-year/ 50,000 mile warranty includes 24/7 roadside assistance. The Lexus LX570 is rolling into showrooms at dealerships nationwide.
Likes: A powerful, high luxury sport-utility vehicle with advanced off-road technology, including a new crawl control system. The new LX can tow up to 8500 pounds, and while offering the ride comfort and amenities of a high luxury sedan.
Dislikes: The car’s long wheelbase makes it less suitable for extreme off-road trails than smaller trucks.
Base price: $73,800
As tested: $80,665
Horsepower: 383 Hp @ 5600 rpm
Torque: 403 lbs.-ft. @ 3600 rpm
Zero-to-sixty: 7.4 seconds
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 12/18 mpg city/highway
Comments: Base price does not include a $765 delivery charge
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