The big Lexus SUV, now called the LX 470, brought the performance and luxury standards associated with the Lexus brand to full-size go-anywheremobiles. It’s been such a success that Range Rover freely admits using it as a benchmark when designing its new mega-ute. It provides seating for up to eight, maximum cargo space of 90.4 cubic feet and generous towing capacity, yet feels surprisingly nimble and powerful.
The steering is rack-and-pinion, which helps explain the LX 470’s responsiveness. The front suspension is independent, using A-arms and torsion bars, while in back four trailing arms support a solid rear axle. Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) controls shock absorber response depending on road conditions, acceleration, steering and braking inputs. An AVS center console switch provides five ride settings that range from “comfort” to “sport.” Navigating tertiary road straightaways at triple-digit speeds is no sweat for this package.
The 4.7-liter dual-cam V-8 provides 230 hp at 4,800 rpm and a stout 320 lb-ft of torque at 3400 rpm. Smooth and quiet as a bubble, the mill provides steady, continuous pull, as 80 percent of the torque is available from 1100 rpm. Still, one could reasonably expect increased output in future models, given that you can now get 345 hp from a Cadillac Escalade, but this is quibbling. With a tow rating of 6,500 pounds, the Lexus would have no problem tugging a horse or boat around.
Four-wheel ABS provides excellent stopping control, particularly under panic stops, albeit with a smidge of nose-dive. Mrs. Cockerham and I happily discovered this ability when we were stunned to see a chicken (actually, two chickens) crossing a country road in our path. (Yes, we did ask why they chose that particular moment to do so; we could only come up with the usual answer.)
Everybody knows the basic off-road mechanicals are shared with the Toyota Land Cruiser, so off-roading comes secondnature to the Lexus. The full-time all-wheel-drive system, using a locking center differential providing 50/50 front/rear power distribution and a limited-slip diff, only needs intervention when you want to shift between low and high range.