Lexus luxury version of the full-size Toyota Land Cruiser sport utility vehicle will receive a mild face-lift this year. The 2003 LX 470 gets a revised grille, an updated front bumper and restyled taillights. Seat-mounted side-impact airbags and front and rear curtain-type airbags are now standard. The wheels have grown to 18 inches in diameter, and the SUVs V-8 engine adds 5 horsepower, which is rated at 235 hp for 2003. A five-speed-automatic transmission edges aside the previous four-speed automatic, and it works with a gated shifter.
Variable gear-ratio steering and electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) are new for 2003, and new options include Night View and Lexus Link systems.
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. Sales of the LX 470 dipped by more than 36 percent to 9,320 units during 2001, according to Automotive News. An optional DVD-based navigation system provides travel guidance by using either a video display when the vehicle is in Park or audio directions when the transmission is in Drive.
Styling differences between the LX 470 and Land Cruiser center on the grille, headlights and the 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.
Seating for eight occupants in the LX 470 is standard. It is equipped with an interior configuration of twin front bucket seats and three-place middle and rear benches. All seats are 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. The LX 470s cargo volume is 90.8 cubic feet.
Under the Hood
A 235-hp, 4.7-liter V-8 engine, which is also used in the Land Cruiser, teams with a five-speed-automatic transmission. Permanently engaged four-wheel drive is standard, and it 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. Electronic brake-force distribution is new for 2003. Lexus standard Vehicle Skid Control, an electronic stability system, applies the brakes to individual wheels as needed.
The LX 470 sits high up on the price scale. It produces an undeniably luxurious experience, and while its flaws are mostly minor, they can be somewhat annoying. Getting inside is the first hurdle its a mighty big step up, but the running boards help. The design allows the driver to enjoy a commanding view and plenty of space.
Despite its abundant dimensions, the LX 470 doesnt really feel cumbersome and its not as huge as some full-size SUV rivals. Its steering requires a moderately heavy touch but is by no means difficult. The LX 470 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.
The LX 470s performance is strong from a standstill when you consider the ample weight being pushed. 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.