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MORE SAFETY, FORWARD AND BACKWARD

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Fri, Apr 2, 2004

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

Lexus LX470 Premium AWD SUV

MORE SAFETY, FORWARD AND BACKWARD By HARVEY SCHWARTZ

The thriving sport utility vehicle segment of the automotive marketplace continues to push the envelope on safety, as more consumers choose to switch and purchase sport utility vehicles. Fear of rollover accidents continues to haunt sport utilities, and many are trying to calm fears with more protection. You now have a choice of over 100 different makes and models from compact to full-size, in base trim and full-blown luxo wagons.

© All photos by Harvey Schwartz

In the hotly-contested premium, full-size segment, the competition couldn't be more intense, given the high-dollar price and new models offering more power and more seating capacity. With the propensity of these vehicles to be involved in rollover accidents, enhanced safety seems to me to be the key when making a logical decision on a purchase. All of these premium sport utilities boast their safety features, but only one stands out from the crowd with more safety features, all-around performance, on-road/off-road capability, luxury, and convenience. I just finished testing the new 2004 Lexus LX470 AWD sport utility and came away very impressed with what it had to offer the well-to-do growing family or company that uses an upscale sport utility as transportation for employees.

New this year in the Lexus LX470 are safety features when driving at night and when backing up. The Lexus Night Vision system gives drivers a black & white view of the road up ahead that can't be reached with today's headlamp systems. Using an infrared camera, a beam goes out and you see all visible heat generating objects like animals crossing the road, people walking and on bicycles, vehicles parked on the side of an unlit street or road, etc. When you push the Night Vision button, conveniently placed on the lower left side of the dashboard, you will see straight-ahead on the lower left windshield, just above your steering wheel, a 7 x 3-inch screen. First introduced on the Cadillac DeVille three years ago, this is a great safety feature that can help prevent accidents as you try to avoid hitting an object that appears too quickly to avoid. Also this year is a color TV camera mounted on the center of the rear license plate surround that gives you a fisheye view of the rear area. When you put the truck in reverse, the 7 x 4-inch Lexus navigation screen changes to the rear view.

The Lexus LX470 is a smooth riding sport utility both on an off the road. As a result of its great off road characteristics and safety features (that include front/side airbags, front/rear curtain airbags, eight three-point lap/shoulder belts with pretensioners and load limiters up front to help reduce injuries in the event of a rollover), the LX470 comes with a switch on the dash that you can turn off when challenging your favorite off road trails, and quite possibly rocking the LX470 as you easily traverse steep and rugged terrain with a ground clearance of 9.8 inches. This switch turns off the sensors that deploy the airbags when a rollover motion is detected, such as when you are on an angle that would possibly indicate that the truck was going into a rollover. It is best to keep it on when traveling on the hard pavement. Also keeping you in control of the vehicle are the anti-lock brakes, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Brake Assist, Vehicle Stability Control and traction control systems with their shared monitors and sensors. Besides being one of the safest premium, luxury sport utilities, the LX470 is also one of the strongest and best-looking. The high-strength steel body is placed on a high-strength steel perimeter frame with reinforcements welded into strategist locations. The styling is both rugged and elegant with a broad, upright stance.

The front is highlighted with the signature Lexus grille of horizontal chrome slats, unique independent four-beam projector headlights with a green tint, Daytime Running Lamps with projector fog lamps and turning lamps integrated onto the lower bumper. The hood has a slight rise where it meets the nicely raked windshield. From the side are flared fender wells that are nicely stuffed with big 275/60R-18 all-season Dunlop radial tires that wrap around big, 18 x 8-inch cast aluminum alloy wheels. The dark gray full-perimeter cladding adds protection when traveling over narrow off road trails and when you're parked close next to other car doors. The power-remote side mirrors have a power-folding capability for added safety and again, when traveling on narrow roads when your rear-side-view is not necessary. These side view mirrors are also heated and self-dimming. The roof is flat and holds the new, more capable roof rack, and larger rear spoiler. The rear comes straight down to the composite covered step-up bumper. The tailgate/liftgate spilt gives easy access to the rear cargo hold. When closed the rear features big, wraparound tail and brake lamps with big backup lamps on the inside of the license plate surround. Elegant touches include the new lighted, full-length running boards, and color-keyed, pull-handle door openers.

Under the skin and out of sight is the great Lexus engineering that makes the LX470 one of the most enjoyable full-size luxury sport utilities to drive on the hard pavement at speed, or around slower traffic in town, and when you are tackling those off-road trails and off-road areas that you always dreamed of. The LX470 is powered by a 4.7 liter, DOHC V8 with a rugged cast iron block and aluminum head. Horsepower is rated at 235 at 4,800 rpm, which seems low for today's V8s, but the torque registers a mighty 320 lb.ft. at just 3,400 rpm. The 4.7 liter V8 is mated to a smooth shifting, electronically controlled, five-speed automatic, all-wheel-drive transmission with a beautiful and fun to use gate shifter. You can easily tow up to 5,000 lbs., drive all day at triple-digit speeds on the highways, and power through the toughest obstacles when off road. The suspension is also tough when off road and as smooth as ice when traveling on a well maintained freeway or highway. Up front is an independent double-wishbone setup with torsion bars and stabilizer bar. The unique rear suspension features a four link rigid axle for extra strength, coil springs and stabilizer bar. The damping system features adoptive variable control shocks at all four corners, with adjustable height setting. You can make these changes by turning a rotary dial for sport/comfort, and three height setting by pushing a three-position rocker switch. These two switches are conveniently placed next to each other on the center console, to the left of the gated shifter. These systems lets you set and choose you're desired ride type and chassis height when traveling on or off road.

The engine speed sensing, power rack & pinion steering system is a perfect match for the unique suspension system. It gives the steering wheel great control of where you want the truck to go with good feedback from the road and great on-center feel. Always keep in mind that all 4X4s have a higher center of gravity and tend to lift when taking curving roads at higher speeds.

Stopping quickly with control is no problem for the LX470 that comes with big, strong Lexus steel disc, ABS brakes. Up front are 12.2 inch vented disc with four-piston calipers, and 12.8 inch solid discs with a single piston caliper in the rear. These brakes are enhanced with Brake Assist and Electronic Brake Force Distribution.

When you open the doors, you are entering a cabin for traveling like no other. There is roomy seating for 8 adults all trimmed with leather and beautiful Bird's-Eye-Maple woods. The butter soft front bucket seats are very comfortable, supportive and feature 12-way power adjustments. There are nine cupholders and grab handles about each door and on the front A, and B pillars, for your convenience. The thick-pile carpeting and floor mats help make the interior of the LX470 so quiet.

The signature Lexus ride is smooth whether you are traveling on or off the road. The big shocks easily absorb pavement imperfections and smooth out the stiffest bumps when off road. The power tilting/telescoping, wood and leather wrapped steering wheel contains buttons for the audio system, and Lexus equipped hands free telephone. It feels perfect in your hands. The signature Lexus Optitron, electro-luminescent gauge cluster is easy to see and understand with a big 130 mph speedometer and 7,000 rpm tachometer. Inside the tachometer is the readout for your chassis height. On each side are smaller gauges for fuel, oil pressure, engine coolant temperature and voltmeter. Bright LED lights warn you of system failure. The front of the center console features the elegant leather topped and chrome stick shifter, leather trimmed parking brake handle, and leather trimmed high/low/neutral four-wheel stick. Even though the LX470 is AWD, it still has the capacity to engage four-wheel low when in very loose sand or when you are in another situation off road where you need low gear to keep going. There also is a switch on the dashboard to lock into 4X4 and engage all four wheels with the same amount of torque. This is one rugged and capable off road vehicle, unlike most other luxury 4-wheelers.

This year, the LX470 gets an upgraded navigation system that shows buildings and contains more information that you might want to know in your travels. The many different systems that work off the 7 x 5-inch screen are easy to get to and easy to use. Just push the desired button for the climate, audio, navigation, trip information, then just by pushing the touch screen for you're desired setting. It is very simple and easy to use.

The high-end Mark Levinson audio system is truly unique with 11 premium speakers, including a subwoofer, and a very powerful AM-FM stereo radio, cassette tape player and six-CD player mounted inside the center console.

Other amenities include dual, electronic climate control with separate controls for the rear seating area. Warm or cool air is sent to the second and third rows from behind the front center console and from many air outlets mounted on the headliner. The rear third row bench seat easily pulls out for added storage space, and the second row split bench seat folds flat. Additional storage areas are found at the bottom of each door, inside the deep and wide center console, in the deep glovebox that locks, and located behind the front seats are pockets for books, magazines, maps, etc. The front windshield wipers are 'rain-sensing' with washers for the solar tinted glass and green tinted headlights. All the glass behind the front doors are deep tinted for privacy with the rear glass having a wiper and washer. An air filter keeps dust and pollen out of the cabin. All four windows are express powered up and down and the rear quarter windows are power operated. Electronic cruse control helps to melt away the miles on a long journey, and the chrome door handles and theater lighting give another touch of elegance. Another added safety feature on the new LX470 is Lexus Link with easy to use controls located on the upper part of the overhead console. The Lexus Link System has control buttons to call a Lexus Link representative to help with an emergency or when information is needed that you can't get from the navigation system. When you are accidentally locked out of your vehicle, you can call and Lexus Link with automatically open the power door locks. You can even record your conversation with the Lexus Link representative to hear again later. With that feature it can do more than GM's great OnStar system.

I think I got it all down here because there is so much to tell about this great premium luxury full-size sport utility vehicle. Oh yes, I almost forgot to mention the big, power operating sunroof that lets in the sunlight and air when you want to really enjoy your ride and see the sun and feel the wind from above.

My test vehicle was priced at $64,750.00 fully loaded, and ready for any on road or off road challenges surrounded with the highest levels of luxury and the latest safety features available to keep you and your passengers safe in the event of a collision. While other premium, luxury sport utilities have more horsepower, none combines what a premium luxury sport utility should have better than the new Lexus LX470.

© Harvey Schwartz

For more information on Lexus products, go to www.lexus.com.

SPECIFICATIONS

Name of vehicle: Lexus LX470

Price: $64,750.00

Engine type: 4.7 liter, DOHC V8 with cast iron block and aluminum head Horsepower: 235 at 4,800 rpm Torque: 320 lb. ft. at 3,400 rpm Drive configuration: front engine/all-wheel drive with high/low Transmission type: Five-speed automatic with electronically controlled gate shifter

Front suspension: independent double-wishbone, torsion bars, stabilizer bar, and adaptive variable control shock absorbers Rear suspension: 4-link rigid axle with coil springs, stabilizer bar and adaptive variable control shock absorbers

Wheels and tires: 275/60R-8i Dunlop tires with 18 x 8-inch aluminum alloy wheels

Brakes: Front-12.2 in. vented steel discs clamped with 4-piston calipers Rear-12.8 in. solid discs clamped with single piston calipers, enhanced with Brake Assist and electronic brake force distribution

Overall length: 192.5 in. Overall width: 76.4 in. Overall height: 72.8 in. Curb weight: 5,590 lbs. EPA mileage: 13 mpg city, 17 mpg highway 0-60mph: 9.7 seconds Quarter mile acceleration: 17.5 seconds

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