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2008 Lexus LX 570
John Stewart

Introduction
The all-new 2008 Lexus LX is a true luxury vehicle first and foremost, with advanced safety, comfort and quality features. It's a big, heavy vehicle that can tow big loads, haul heavy cargo, and transport people and gear across great distances in comfort. It uses the same heavy frame and stout powertrain as the Toyota Land Cruiser.

Like the Land Cruiser, the Lexus LX 570 is designed for extraordinary versatility and an unusual combination of utility and luxury. But with the Lexus, luxury comes first.

Designed for a different kind of use, the LX offers a number of qualities and features that the Land Cruiser does not. These include technological advances such as active headrests, wide-view monitors, adaptive front headlights, and an active damping suspension control system. The Mark Levinson audio system is a Lexus exclusive, and the interior is built using a higher level of materials and finish.

The Land Cruiser is better equipped for rigorous off-road use; the LX570, also highly capable, has running boards and other conveniences that would become vulnerable in rugged terrain. The LX 570 is aimed more at the luxury car owner who occasionally needs guaranteed control on a snowy road leading to a ski resort, or safe traction on the graded dirt road leading to a ranch house or mountain fishing lodge. The ability to haul boats or horse trailers up to 8500 pounds makes this the most capable SUV offered by Lexus.

Safety features are on a par with the best luxury sedans.

Especially relaxing to drive on long trips, the LX is also equipped with a brace of thoughtful features to make around-town driving and parking more convenient.

The Lexus LX competes with the Cadillac Escalade, Range Rover, and the Mercedes GL550. The group is similar in many ways, with similar operational characteristics, but the LX caters to the distinctly American addiction to torque even more studiously than the others. Powered by a 5.7-liter V8, the LX makes most of its power early in the rev range. Model Lineup
The 2008 Lexus LX comes as one model, the LX 570. The standard package includes a very long list of comfort and convenience features, combined with extensive engineering and safety systems. Highlights include 20-inch wheels; power rear door and tailgate; Class 4 towing hitch; moonroof; heated power outside mirrors; roof rack; programmable garage door opener; 115V outlet in rear cargo area; power door locks with anti-lock-out feature; wide-view front and side mirror; 10-way power driver seat; three-position memory driver seat; eight-way power front passenger seat and heated front seats.

The standard audio system is Lexus Premium Audio, which includes digital AM/FM tuner with auto-reverse cassette; in-dash 6CD changer to support MP3 and other digital files; MP3/iPod input plug; digital sound processing (DSP) with seven-channel, 312-watt output; nine speakers; and automatic sound leveling.

The optional DVD rear-seat entertainment system ($1990) requires the Technology Package, which includes the 19-speaker, 450-watt Mark Levinson Surround Sound audio system, with Lexus Link and Hard Disc drive CD/DVD/DVD video ($4200).

Safety features include 10 airbags, anti-rollover dynamics; tire pressure monitor system; active traction control (A-TRAC); vehicle stability control (VSC); rain-sensing wipers; adaptive front lighting (AFS); brake assist; hill-start assist control (HAC); multi-terrain anti-lock braking system (ABS); electronic brake-force distribution (EBD). The optional Pre-Collision System (PCS) is packaged with adaptive cruise control ($2850). Walkaround
The Lexus LX 570 is visibly wider and taller-looking than the previous-generation LX 470, which it replaces. The design theme deliberately combines powerful, utilitarian design cues with smooth, sophisticated elements to create a balanced tension between the two.

The taller hood line, broad mirrors, pronounced wheel arches and wide stance combine to suggest a more muscular character. From the side, smooth convex side panels and flowing sheetmetal integrate the running boards. A bold front grille, mounted at headlamp-level, emphasizes size and strength, and minimizes the bumper, which flows smoothly around the wheelwells. Combination head and tail light clusters are used to emphasize state-of-the-art technical qualities, which include adaptive front lights and high-intensity LED tail lights. Use of chrome as an accent is selective and restrained.

To our eye, the package looks bigger than it is, and more sophisticated, without being garish. In actual fact, the LX is almost exactly the same size, or maybe a tad more compact, than its European competitor, the Range Rover. While not as distinctive as the Range Rover, the Lexus design strikes us as clean and timeless in a uniquely Japanese way.

The LX has become a technology showcase for Lexus. It is the first Lexus to offer a wide-view front and side monitor system for hard-to-see areas, and incorporates the new Adaptive Radar Cruise Control and Pre-Collision System. Cameras are located inside the grille and side view mirrors, and the radar antenna is located behind the Lexus emblem in the front grille.

All Lexus vehicles are assembled in Japan. The LX is assembled at the Yoshiwara plant, which was revised and revamped to produce the new 570, and the engines are produced at the Tahara manufacturing facility, where the LS sedans are produced. In all, the finished vehicles are inspected three times, testing for such qualities as quietness, steering wheel feel, color matching and door sound accuracy. Interior
The cabin of the Lexus LX reflects Japanese ideas of simplicity, strict attention to detail, and functionality as a form of luxury.

There are two interior decor options to choose from; black woodgrain trim with medium-gray leather, or ivory leather with dark brown walnut trim. We found both tastefully attractive, without being overdone, and consistent with Japanese design sensibilities. We're told the wood is California Walnut. Certainly, the detail work on the leather, trim panels and dash area is in keeping with Lexus standards. Semi-Analine leather is used on the seats and trim, a grade that has the benefit of consistent color characteristics. Stitching on the seats is conspicuously uniform and stands up to focused inspection. Chrome accents on the dash are used judiciously.

Features and controls consistent with high-end luxury sedans are built into the cockpit area, which is designed with a minimum of clutter. This is partly accomplished by mounting the phone, navigation, and audio controls on the steering wheel, as well as control for the information display that selects trip information.

The instrument panel is built around two large brightly lit dial gauges, speedometer and tachometer. Between the two are four smaller dials for fuel, coolant temperature, voltage, and oil pressure. An information display box, activated from the steering wheel, can show outside temperature, current MPG, MPG since refueling, cruise range, miles driven since start, and tire pressures. The display also shows height setting and warning messages as they apply. Again, visual simplicity is achieved, remarkably so, given how much information the instruments convey.

The front seats are roomy, supportive and widely adjustable. The driver's seat adjusts 14 ways, and the passenger seat 12 ways, including lumbar support. The center console lids function as armrests, and can be extended to work with different driving positions. Taller drivers will appreciate that front leg room is a priority. There is almost 43 inches of legroom at the front, with generous shoulder and hip room. With the moonroof, headroom exceeds 38 inches for the first two rows. One test driver in our group, who is six feet, eight inches tall, asked for just a tad more head room. For drivers any shorter than that, we'll wager there is ample space.

One of our favorite features, keyless entry, unlocks all 5 entry points when the driver touches a door or tailgate. So long as the key fob is somewhere on your person, Bluetooth proximity sensors unlock the car automatically. There is also a remote engine start option for those who would appreciate heat or air conditioning to raise or lower the interior temperature of the car prior to entry.

Built into the interior are 10 airbags as standard equipment. Front-seat occupants are protected by two-stage main airbags, two side airbags, and two knee airbags. A roll-sensing curtain airbag is designed to protect all three rows, and the second-row passengers also have separate seat-mounted side airbags. Standard child seat latches are incorporated in the second row. All eight seats throughout the cabin have three-point seatbelt systems.

Another Lexus safety system, active headrests, is standard on the front seats. In the event of a rear-end collision, the headrests automatically tilt forward to limit the chance of whiplash injuries.

Like a lot of large SUVs, entry into the cabin does require a big first step. We tended to use the sturdy grab handles to swing up and into the front. Third-row entry is made easier by use of a touch-and-tumble seat on the right side. It's still a bit of a crawl for adults to move into the back, but the rear seating area is surprisingly accommodating, at least for two adults. There are seatbelts and headrests for three, but in real life, the third row will seat three adults best if the middle passenger likes to cuddle.

Interior comfort and control systems have been re-engineered from the ground up. Two- and three-zone climate control systems are common in large cars and SUVs these days, but the Lexus LX has separate climate controls for four zones, so people in the first and second rows can dial in their own air flow volume and temperature. To further increase precision in interior microclimates, there are a total of 28 vents distributing air flow. The blower has seven levels, and a micro dust and pollen filter conditions the incoming air.

The navigation system is new. The screen is powered by the fifth-generation satellite-based operating system, which offers English, French and Spanish language audio and display. The navigation systems from Toyota and Lexus have recently been among the best.

XM traffic radio, which selects the least crowded route to a destination, is available, as is the Mark Levinson audio system. The Levinson option provides an upgrade equal to any automotive audio we know of; the Mark Levinson systems are among the cleanest sounding available. The hard drive disc offers 13.9 gigabites for music storage, playable through 19 speakers that, combined, generate true surround sound. The system is compelling and memorable. Anyone with doubts about potential for sound quality in an SUV should bring their favorite DVD, get in the LX, and turn it up.

The LX is versatile enough to carry people, or cargo, or a mix of both. The bias is toward carrying people, and keeping them comfortable. But for those occasions when bulky cargo is the order of the day, the rear interior seats fold out of the way to create 83.1 cubic feet of cargo area. The rear hatch opens using the key fob; the tailgate opens manually via a lever on the top of the tailgate. Cargo lift height is about average for a vehicle of this size. For groceries or other everyday uses, the 15-cubic-foot area behind the third row is sufficient. The third-row seats split 50/50 and stow against the side of the cabin, creating 41 cubic feet. Although that arrangement supplies less room, we like folding away the seats better than removing them altogether, which is the drill on some competing vehicles. Removing heavy seats is not a fun job for dad, and having loose seats kicking around the garage, taking up space and getting in harm's way is a nuisance. Driving Impressions
On the move, the 2008 Lexus LX 570 is smooth, quiet and untroubled. The higher seating position permits long-range forward visibility, keeping occupants and passengers above the flow of ordinary traffic, and eye-ball-to-eyeball with full-size trucks. The commanding view, combined with the lack of noise and vibration, combine to create the sensation of a protected cabin, and a sense of well being.

The LX moves out readily at part throttle, creating the sensation of power in reserve. The engine is an advanced 5.7-liter V8 shared with the Tundra pickup truck and Land Cruiser SUV. It's built for torque, and it produces a lot of it, 403 pound-feet, early in the rev range. More than 90 percent of the torque is available before 2200 rpm, so most of the time the engine is loafing along with very low effort, which adds to the quiet, untroubled manner the LX conveys on the move. This ability to provide power without spinning the engine faster gives the LX a different character than the Cadillac Escalade or Land Rover Range Rover, which produce their peak torque at higher rpm levels.

The new six-speed transmission has a very low first gear, complementing the engine's torque with enhanced mechanical leverage. The net effect, once again, is low effort in ordinary driving. At higher speeds, the six-speed offers a double overdrive combination, with a sixth-gear ratio of just 0.588. This very tall cruising gear allows for quiet, effortless cruising. At 2000 rpm, our test unit indicated a speed of 72 mph. At speeds over 75 mph we were able to detect some wind noise coming from the mirrors, but thanks to careful noise isolation work, the powertrain is not the source of noise or vibration until much higher speeds are demanded.

Top speed is electronically limited to 137 mph. As you might expect with a four-wheel-drive of this considerable heft, the LX remains composed and relaxed even at speeds well beyond the recommended norm on America's superhighways. In bad weather, the LX really comes into its own, with a torsen limited-slip center differential biasing torque to maximize traction.

Drawing from its Land Cruiser heritage, the LX has the guts of a true 4x4. The four-wheel-drive system has four modes, actuated by a toggle switch on the center console. It's possible to lock the center differential in high range or low range, or leave it open in either range. Normally, most people will be operating in the unlocked, high range mode, which should deliver the best mileage. When there are patches of ice or water on the road, locking the center differential helps maintain grip as individual wheels encounter slippery surfaces. When the going gets really bad, such an ice storm or if deep mud blocks the path, locking the center differential and using low range would supply maximum balance to move forward without getting stuck.

Unlike the iconic 4x4 Land Cruiser, the LX does not offer locking differentials, relying instead on electronic traction control (A-TRAC) to prevent wheelspin. Our (considerable) experience with A-TRAC is that it provides enhanced traction and off-road capability sufficient for any unplanned event, and then some. The Toyota Land Cruiser, with available electronic lockers, might be better suited for those who expect to use their SUV as a 4x4 recreation vehicle, but both vehicles have multi-terrain ABS, which works at low speeds on-road or off, and both vehicles have Crawl Control. Crawl Control is designed for use on steep downhill trails when control is the highest priority. It holds back the vehicle, making sure the speed is appropriate to the steepness of the terrain, so all the driver has to do is steer.

The LX suspension supplies a mix of ride quality and cornering capability consistent with other large, multi-passenger luxury vehicles. Some vehicles in this class use air bag suspensions, but in the LX coil springs are used on all four corners, supplemented by an active variable damping system that controls body pitch and dive. The combination is effective. We noticed the LX squats very little upon hard acceleration, the front stays level when we got on the brakes, and in general, the vehicle stayed composed during spirited driving.

The level of damping is selectable. It's possible to select Sport, Normal, and Comfort damping via a switch on the dash, which allowed us to tune ride quality depending on the road surface. We think we would operate on Comfort for highway driving, and Sport if we were faced with a mountain road with a lot of side-to-side transitions. The difference between Normal and Comfort was not apparent to us as we drove, but the difference between Sport and Comfort was definitely discernable.

Unless you drive a truck regularly, parking and maneuvering any big SUV will take some practice. Driving the LX, we found that the hood is tall, making it hard to keep track of the right front corner in particular. Rear visibility is compromised by headrests and sheer height. On the LX, the problem is made easier in two ways. First, steering at slow speeds requires very little effort, and second, visibility is enhanced by new electronic systems.

One such system uses wide-angle cameras located in the front grille and passenger-side mirror to give the driver an enhanced view along the front and side of the vehicle by projecting images of these blind spots on a split-screen display. Another system uses ultrasonic sensors to warn of contact with objects around the front, rear and corners of the vehicle when parking. We found that, with these systems operating simultaneously, even a driver who normally operates a smaller car can park and maneuver the LX in close quarters with accuracy and confidence. They all work together intuitively; it just takes a little patience.

The LX is built with the strong brakes a capable hauler requires. They include large ventilated disc rotors with multi-piston calipers, enhanced by numerous active safety systems. These include Brake Assist (shortening stopping distances in emergencies), all-terrain ABS, and Electronic Brake Force Distribution to balance braking on slippery surfaces.

We towed an 8500-pound trailer for an hour or so with the new LX 570 and found the engine and transmission had no trouble hauling the load up hills, as we expected. The downhill side is often the bigger challenge, as both brakes and transmission are part of what it takes to maintain control. We found that the transmission will downshift on its own, from sixth to fifth gear then to fourth gear, to enhance engine braking and fuel economy. The uphill/downhill shift logic seems flawless, responding to very slight tip-of-the-toe throttle inputs. But for those times when manual control seems called for, there is a sequential shift mode that gives the driver this control.

All Lexus vehicles offer a Pre-Collision System (PCS), including the LX. It's integrated with the optional Dynamic Radar Control, which at $2850 is a fairly pricy option. However, PCS is an innovative safety system that is enabled by the use of radar. With the Pre-Collision System, the car's radar can determine if a crash is unavoidable. If that ever becomes the case, the system tightens up the seatbelt, increases brake sensitivity and applies maximum braking force when the driver touches the brake. By reducing the speed at impact, and positioning the occupants, PCS allows all the other built-in safety systems to work better. According to Lexus engineers, scrubbing off just a little speed at the last second can be enough to save lives. While you don't want to crash at 35 mph, it's better than crashing at 55 mph. Summary
Stylistically less pretentious than the competition, the all-new 2008 Lexus LX 570 still offers power, unique luxury features, and exceptional capability on and off the road. Lexus build quality should assure long-term value.

John Stewart filed this report to NewCarTestDrive.com after driving the LX 570 along the coastal and inland roads around the greater San Diego area.

Model as tested
2008 Lexus LX 570 ($79,285)
Basic Warranty
4 years/50,000 miles with roadside assistance
Assembled in
Yoshiwara Plant in Aichi, Japan
Destination charge
765
Gas guzzler tax
N/A
Base Price
73800
Price as tested
79285
Options as tested
Climate Controlled Front Seats with heated second row seats ($890); Intuitive Park Assist with Wide-View front and side monitor ($1000); Pre Collision system and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control ($2850).

Model Line Overview
Model lineup
Lexus LX 570 ($73,800)
Safety equipment (standard)
advanced driver and front passenger airbags, including dual-stage SRS airbag for front passenger seat; driver and front SRS passenger knee airbags; front seat mounted SRS side airbags; roll-sensing front and rear side-curtain airbags for all 3 rows; second-row SRS side airbags; front occupant sensor; 3-point seatbelts for all seating positions; soft upper interior; side impact beams; energy absorbing frame structure; active front headrests; daytime running lamps (DRL); anti-rollover dynamics; tire pressure monitor (TPM) system; active traction control (A-TRAC); vehicle stability control (VSC); rain-sensing wipers; adaptive front lighting (AFS); brake assist (BA); hill-start assist control (HAC); multi-terrain anti-lock braking system (ABS); electronic brake-force distribution (EBD)
Safety equipment (optional)
N/A
Engines
5.7-liter DOHC 32-valve V8
Transmissions
6-speed automatic

Specifications as Tested
leather upholstery and trim; wood grained trim; illuminated inner scuff plate; window open/close speed control; power front seat cushion extenders; foldable, reclining 60/40 split second row seat with CRS anchorage; power sliding second-row seat; semi-power third-row seat; 10-way power driver seat; three-position memory driver seat; eight-way power front passenger seat; heated front seats; power tilt/slide moonroof; heated outside mirrors with power folding and reverse auto-tilt; auto-dimming electrochromic inside rearview mirror; illuminated running boards; auto on/off headlamps with variable off timing; roof rack; rain-sensing variable intermittent front windshield wipers; intermittent rear windshield wiper with washer; roof-mounted fixed antenna for optional Lexus Link; programmable garage door opener located in overhead console; map light assembly with sunglasses holder; door courtesy lights, glove box light, dome light, front map lights and rear cargo area light; illuminated cigarette lighter and 12-volt power outlet; 115V outlet in rear cargo area; power door locks with anti-lock-out feature; center console split doors (double as armrests that slide front-to-back); cup holders for two large cups; door pocket holders for 20oz. bottles and A4-size binders; second-seat armrest cupholders for two large cups; second-seat armrest storage box with lid; third-row cup holders for two cups on each side; back door tailgate storage space; anti-dust filter and separate driver and passenger temperature controls; front defroster-linked A/C startup control; digital outside temperature display, digital clock and trip computer showing average mpg, current mpg, range, average mph, barometer, altimeter, elapsed time; Lexus Premium Audio, which includes digital AM/FM tuner with auto-reverse cassette; in-dash 6CD changer in head unit to support MP3/WMA/SDARS; MP3/iPod input plug; digital sound processing (DSP) with seven-channel, 312-watt output; nine speakers; automatic sound levelizer; exterior equipment includes pop-up headlamp washers, LED tail lamps; rear spoiler; puddle lamps on side mirrors; 10-spoke, 20-inch wheels; metal plated fog lamps; rear reflex reflectors; power rear door and easy-close tailgate; Class 4 towing hitch with cover; laminated windshield and front door glass

Engine & Transmission
Engine
5.7-liter DOHC 32-valve V8
Drivetrain type
full-time four-wheel drive
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)
383 @ 5600
Transmission
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy
12/18
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm)
N/A

Suspension
Brakes, front/rear
ventilated disc/ventilated disc, with ABS, brake assist, EBD, VSC, A-TRAC, HAC, and crawl control
Suspension, front
independent, double wishbone w/coil springs and stabilizer bar, with active height control and adaptive variable damping
Tires
P285/50R20
Suspension, rear
four-link coil spring lateral rod-type suspension with active height control and adaptive variable damping

Accomodations
Seating capacity
8
Head/hip/leg room, middle
38.9/58.5/34.4
Head/hip/leg room, front
38.3/59.8/42.9
Head/hip/leg room, rear
35.8/56.6/28.3

Measurements
Fuel capacity
N/A
Trunk volume
83.1
Wheelbase
112.2
Length/width/height
196.5/77.6/75.6
Turning circle
38.7
Payload
N/A
Towing capacity
8500
Track, front/rear
64.6/64.4
Ground clearance
8.9
Curb weight
5995


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