Lexus luxury version of the full-size Toyota Land Cruiser sport utility vehicle received a mild face-lift in 2003. Seat-mounted side-impact airbags and side curtain-type airbags for the front and rear seats became standard in the Lexus LX 470. The wheels grew to 18 inches in diameter, and a gated-shift five-speed-automatic transmission edged aside the previous four-speed unit. Variable gear-ratio steering and electronic brake-force distribution were new for 2003. New options included Night View and Lexus Link systems.
For 2004, a rear backup camera is available with the navigation system, which gains Bluetooth wireless technology. Net hooks have been added to the cargo area. Even though the two full-size SUVs from Lexus and Toyota are similarly styled and share mechanical components, the LX 470 delivers more amenities for its higher sticker price.
Styling differences between the LX 470 and Land Cruiser center on the grille, headlights and illuminated side running boards that Lexus offers. At 192.5 inches long overall, the LX 470 is approximately 6 inches shorter than the Cadillac Escalade. Mounted on a 112.2-inch wheelbase, the four-door LX 470 stands 72.8 inches tall and measures 76.4 inches wide.
With an interior configuration of twin front bucket seats and three-place middle and rear benches, the LX 470 seats eight people. The seats are all trimmed in leather, and the middle seat folds forward. The rear seat is split 50/50, and both halves fold outward and can be secured to the sides of the interior. Cargo volume is 90.8 cubic feet. An optional Night View system displays a bright view of the darkened road ahead, but a Lexus spokesman stated that its use could harm a nearby onlookers eyes.
Under the Hood
The LX 470s 235-horsepower, 4.7-liter V-8 engine is also used in the Land Cruiser; it teams with a five-speed-automatic transmission. The standard permanently engaged four-wheel drive comes equipped with a locking center differential, a limited-slip rear differential and traction control.
Antilock brakes are standard. Brake Assist detects when the driver is making a panic stop and then applies maximum braking force. Lexus standard Vehicle Skid Control electronic stability system applies the brakes to individual wheels as needed.
While sitting high on the price scale, the LX 470 produces an undeniably luxurious experience. Its flaws are mostly minor, but they can be somewhat annoying. Getting inside is the first hurdle its a mighty big step up, but the running boards help.
Despite its abundant dimensions, the LX 470 doesnt really feel cumbersome. Steering requires a moderately heavy touch but is by no means difficult. This SUV is stable on the highway, but it never feels quite as secure in its lane as some smaller SUVs. The tires get a bit noisy on certain pavements, but otherwise, this is an exceptionally quiet vehicle.
Performance is strong from a standstill when you consider the vehicles ample weight. Acceleration from lower speeds isnt always brisk, and gear changes are less than ideal when passing or merging. Even though the third-row seat looks snug, getting to it isnt very difficult because the right-hand second-row seat folds all the way forward.