SEE ALSO: Lexus Rover Buyer's Guide
SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price $ 59,005 Price As Tested $ 60,923 Engine Type DOHC 32-valve 4.7 Liter V8 w/SMFI* Engine Size 285 cid/4664 cc Horsepower 230 @ 4800 RPM Torque (lb-ft) 320 @ 3400 RPM Wheelbase/Width/Length 112.2"/76.4"/192.5" Transmission Four-speed automatic Curb Weight 5449 pounds Fuel Capacity 25.4 gallons Tires (F/R) 275/70R16 Mud and snow HR-rated Brakes (F/R) Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS) Drive Train Front-engine/all-wheel-drive Vehicle Type Eight-passenger/five-door Domestic Content N/A Coefficient of Drag (Cd.) 0.40 PERFORMANCE EPA Economy, miles per gallon city/highway/average 13/16/15 0-60 MPH 10.5 seconds Maximum payload capacity 1460 pounds Maximum towing capacity 6500 pounds * Sequential multi-point fuel injection
(When the luxurious Lexus line appeared 10 years ago, Bob Hagin never imagined a truck version, even as an SUV. Matt Hagin says all carriage-trade car builders make them, and they're all selling well.)
MATT - The days of the stark, Spartan sport/utility vehicle are over, Dad, and the field has definitely moved upscale. With a few notable exceptions, they're all pretty fancy, but those made by the luxury car manufacturers are now in a category of their own. Lexus elegantly calls it the "premium luxury" sport utility vehicle segment and its LX470 model it right at the top in quality as well as price. It's aimed at archetypal top-level corporate hands-on executives who want to project a can-do image to the world, but want to do it with a vehicle that's several cuts above plebeian off-road machines.
BOB - But when all is said and done, it's a no-kidding truck. The LX470 rides on a full ladder frame and although the rear suspension is located by trailing arms and carried on coil springs, it's still a solid truck axle. The front suspension uses typical truck double A arms that are sprung by torsion bars. The only transmission offered is a four-speed automatic that operates a full-time all-wheel drive system run by a complex, computerized traction-control system with self-lockers on the center and rear differentials. It's tied in with the anti-lock braking system that applies braking power to slipping wheels. And if the ABS senses that the quickness of the application of the brake by the driver isn't enough to avoid a problem, it automatically increases its hydraulic pressure. The only drivetrain scenario the driver is able to control is to drop the transfer case into its lowest range to get out of mud or deep snow.
MATT - It's a pretty good powerboat tow rig, too. It can haul 6500 pounds if it carries the factory-supplied tow-hitch combination that's a dealer-installed option. My guess that it's a hot seller because there are a lot of classy boats that can match the prestige of this uplevel SUV. The pulling power is supplied by a 4.7-liter all-aluminum V8 engine that evolved from the Lexus LS 400 sedan. Its horsepower is rated at 230, while its torque rating is a very high 320 pound-feet, which indicates that its tuned for pulling rather than speed. And much of this torque comes at only 1100 rpm, which is not a whole lot higher than idle speed. That's what gives it excellent off-line launch.
BOB - Like all the other truck-based SUVs, the Lexus LX470 has lots of interior room. It seats eight occupants in complete luxury and when the rear seat is removed and the center seat is folded, it's got a little over 90 cubic feet of cargo space. The obligatory moonroof is a tilt-and-slide unit and the in-dash six-disc CD player that backs up a multi-faceted sound system are both standard equipment. The front seats are heated and the rear quarter-panel windows are powered for increased ventilation. Sometimes parallel parking can be a drag in a vehicle this big, but the outside mirrors swing down when the transmission is put in reverse to give the driver a better view of the curb.
MATT - The 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels are shod with H-rated mud-and-snow tires, and the spare tire and wheel are the same. They don't make it look beefy and rugged like some of the other SUVs on the market today, but they're quiet and grippy on slippery roads. The LX470 comes standard with a small tool kit and there's even a built-in first aid kit in case a finger gets nicked while changing a flat. And even though the lines of the LX470 are rounded, it's still about as aerodynamic as a packing crate with a drag coefficient of .40. This probably is part of the reason for the dismal 16 mpg that we got during a week of driving. I suppose that none of the big SUVs these days gets good fuel mileage.
BOB - With mileage figures like that, it's a good thing that the cars we test come with a full tank of gas, otherwise we couldn't afford to drive them very much.
MATT - Dad, a great number of the cars we road test are so expensive we couldn't even afford the insurance premiums.