2008 Lexus LX 570: New York Auto Show2
Lexus Brings a New Engine and a New Look to Its Flagship SUV
Lexus’ next LX, renamed LX 570 for its 381HP 5.7L V8 engine, was revealed at the 2007 New York auto show. The increased power, which also bumps towing capacity to 8500 pounds (up 2000 pounds), will be delivered with the help of a new six-speed automatic transmission. The new look brings the LX into the brand’s latest design family and generally updates its look significantly inside and out; having last had a major redesign for the 1998 model year, the SUV was looking dated. The new LX manages to bring its looks into this century without losing its basic style. You’re not likely to confuse the LX 570 for a Mercedes-Benz GL, or Audi Q7, or Land Rover Range Rover, or even Cadillac Escalade.
The new chassis and suspension underneath the new look is updated to today’s level of tricks. Lexus had already offered active height control and an adaptive variable suspension, but improved these elements with the 2008MY. The new system gives a greater range of motion and is cross-linked, allowing wheels to react to the action of opposing wheels as well as to driving surfaces. The system employs a valve at each corner as well as a center or master valve to detect extension or deflection of each wheel. The system, Lexus says, reduces body roll by more than thirty percent and changes ride height quickly. The chassis lowers by about two inches for ingress/egress and returns to normal height under acceleration. On the highway, the system will lower the front about an inch and the rear about a half inch.
The LX 570 improves off-road and off-pavement performance with several sets of electronic aids. The same active height system that adjusts vehicle height for freeway travel and that makes it easier to get in and out also maximizes ground clearance by raising the SUV by about three inches when the low range is selected. Further easing off-road performance, which most LXs likely see precious little of, is a Crawl Control feature. Selectable in low range, Crawl Control increases throttle control to help keep the vehicle at the appropriate low speeds, allowing the driver to focus on steering through the path or over obstacles. Crawl Control uses a set of virtual locking differentials to minimize tire slip and maximize chassis behavior. Without canceling the Crawl Control mode, the driver can use the brakes for slowing vehicle speed and increase or decrease speed by adjusting a speed selector switch. There’s also multi-terrain ABS technology, for reduced stopping distances on slippery surfaces.
Improvements Don’t Raise the Premium Luxury SUV Bar
Though wheelbase stays the same, interior and exterior length is bigger and results in more interior space. Seating for eight is available, but LX’s seats don’t fold into the floor. This isn’t a complete surprise, as the LX continues to be a true, body-on-frame traditional SUV instead of a car-based, unibody Crossover SUV. Instead both second and third rows fold up to the side of the vehicle; both also have power functions.
EDITOR’s Note: We think Toyota’s failure to have a fold flat third row seat is a major blunder. Similar to the General Motors GMT900 large and luxury SUVs, Toyota has failed to provide a truly useful cargo area. Ford demonstrated how to do this as far back as 2003 with the then new Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator. Using independent rear suspension to lower the rear floor by seven-inches, Ford was able to install a fold flat rear seat – with an optional power fold feature. For a megabucks SUV, Lexus missed a great opportunity to provide a truly useful SUV.
The LX will get four-zone climate control (driver, front passenger, second row, and third row). While fold-flat second- and third-row seats have become nearly universal for mid-size SUVs, most that take such a solution are unibody products and many are Crossover SUVs.
Any new Lexus SUV will be awash in technology for safety as well as convenience, but LX doesn’t push the envelope particularly far. There are safety elements new to Lexus SUVs, but not new to the industry. These include Active Front Headrests, second-row seatbelt pretensioners, and direct tire pressure monitor system. The LX will get ten airbags, including driver and front-passenger knee airbags, second-row seat-mounted side airbags, and third-row curtains. Lexus’ pre-collision system and adaptive cruise control will be found on the LX. Lexus’ Intuitive Park Assist (which debuted on the LS) will be available, as will be a blind-corner monitor; at the push of a button, cameras in the grille and under the passenger-side mirror project images into the navigation screen.
On the options list will be the latest convenience and entertainment features, including climate controlled front and heated rear seats, an uplevel stereo system with surround sound and a hard-drive music-storage system (relatively uncommon, but also found on the 2008 Infiniti QX), a coolbox in the front center console, a Smart Card key, front-seat power bottom cushion extenders, and a nine-inch screen for the rear-seat entertainment system. XM satellite radio will be standard with XM NavTraffic, along with Bluetooth and a navigation system.