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Oracle of Delphi

Lexus SUV luxury will grow on you

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SAN DIEGO — Just when you thought luxury SUVs couldn't get any bigger, Lexus has increased the length of the redesigned LX 570 by 4 inches and widened it by more than an inch.

Evidently, when you buy a luxury SUV that tops $80,000 fully optioned, added size and weight don't matter. It helps that the LX 570, despite the 405 pounds of added bulk and 115 more horsepower under the hood, gets the same claimed fuel economy as the LX 470 it replaces: 12 mpg in city driving and 18 mpg on the highway.

The SUV goes on sale this month.

The basics: It's big — 196.5 inches long — though still 6 inches shorter than a Cadillac Escalade.

The LX 570 shares many of its underpinnings with the new Toyota Land Cruiser body-on-frame platform. That includes the 5.7-liter engine, front independent suspension and rear solid axles.

The larger engine and new six-speed automatic transmission can propel the three-ton LX 570 to 60 mph in seven seconds. More impressively, the LX 570 has best-in-class towing capacity: 8,500 pounds. Putting the brakes on all this weight are 13-inch ventilated disc rotors at all four wheels.

The big get bigger

2008 LX 570 2007 LX 470

Wheelbase 112.2 in. 112.2 in.

Length 196.5 in. 192.5 in.

Width 77.6 in. 76.4 in.

Height 75.6 in. 72.8 in.

Base engine 5.7-liter V-8 4.7-liter V-8

Horsepower 383 @ 5,600 rpm 268 @ 5,400 rpm

Torque, in lbs.-ft. 403 @ 3,600 rpm 328 @ 3,400 rpm

Curb weight 5,995 lbs. 5,590 lbs.

Base price* $74,565 $68,150

* Includes shipping

Notable features: Lexus upgraded the off-road capability of the LX 570. It features "crawl control" for more precise low-speed maneuvering down hills as steep as 45 degrees.

The crawl control can be adjusted to 0.6, 2 or 3.2 mph in either forward or reverse gear.

In addition to full-time four-wheel drive, the LX 570 comes with active traction control and a Torsen limited-slip center differential. Adaptive variable suspension and variable ride-height controls are also part of the package.

The antilock brakes adjust if they sense the vehicle is driving off-pavement.

Inside, all three rows of seats are powered. Second-row seats are heated and have 4 inches of slide travel. The front and rear blind spots are covered with cameras that display images on the navigation screen.

Standard features include 20-inch wheels, four-zone climate control, adaptive front lighting, 10 airbags, power rear tailgate window and SmartAccess key fob.

The Yoshiwara, Japan, assembly plant where the Lexus 570 is built is plenty fussy. One stop on the line has four sensors to test the sound of the doors being closed. Toyota wants to assure an ear-pleasing thunk.

What Lexus says: "The line between four-wheel-drive super chassis and plush, luxurious sedan has been blurred more than ever before," Lexus Division boss Mark Templin said at the media introduction in San Diego.

Compromises and shortcomings: The crawl control actuators are bolted to the master cylinder assembly, which is bolted to the firewall. As a result, there is a tremendous clattering in the cabin whenever the crawl control is working. Also, the rear tailgate is unhelpfully split, rather than being a one-piece design.

The market: Lexus needs the LX 570 to turn around its premium-SUV sales. In 2006, Lexus sold 5,595 LX 470s, and sales are down 54.0 percent through November in its sell-down year. Templin hopes to sell about 8,500 units of the new model.

Lexus says current LX owners have had household incomes of $380,000, double that of their competitors. The marketing campaign will use the slogan, "The Driver Empowered."

The skinny: If any of these vehicles ever sets foot on dirt, I'll eat my hat. Too bad, because the Lexus is a very competent off-roader. But it's the opulent interior that really wins the prize.

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If a 500lb man gains 50lbs, do you notice much? Neither do the drivers of these vehicles. They're already ignoring weight.

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Toyota sure milked the Prius thing. Since then, nothing but behemoths. Yet folks wait at the door to buy anything with a Toyota emblem on it.

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Toyota sure milked the Prius thing. Since then, nothing but behemoths. Yet folks wait at the door to buy anything with a Toyota emblem on it.

Yeah, but their bloat beasts are still smaller than GMs..

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Yeah, but their bloat beasts are still smaller than GMs..

Yes, to further prove the inefficiency in the design. Good point.

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Toyota sure milked the Prius thing. Since then, nothing but behemoths. Yet folks wait at the door to buy anything with a Toyota emblem on it.

People who buys luxuary SUVs like the LX or Range Rover has household income in excess of 300,000 dollars a year. For them the price of the SUV or gas price is a moot point. There is a small but loyal following for SUVs like these.

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Yeah, but their bloat beasts are still smaller than GMs..

Most of the extra weight probably comes from all the gadgets and gizmos packed into the LX. Plus it is a better offroader than the Chevy Tahoe or Cadillac Escalade. So I am sure it has a beefier suspension. Although probably less than 1% of LX owners truly go offroad.

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Most of the extra weight probably comes from all the gadgets and gizmos packed into the LX. Plus it is a better offroader than the Chevy Tahoe or Cadillac Escalade. So I am sure it has a beefier suspension. Although probably less than 1% of LX owners truly go offroad.

True, definitely has a better suspension..and it's shared with the Land Cruiser...and the GMs are heavier still, aren't they like over 6000lbs in 4wd/AWD form?

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True, definitely has a better suspension..and it's shared with the Land Cruiser...and the GMs are heavier still, aren't they like over 6000lbs in 4wd/AWD form?

Nope.

Cadillac Escalade 4x4 = 5,665

Chevy Tahoe LTZ AWD = 5,524

It is the Suburban that crosses the 6,000 and the HD Pickups.

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Nope.

Cadillac Escalade 4x4 = 5,665

Chevy Tahoe LTZ AWD = 5,524

It is the Suburban that crosses the 6,000 and the HD Pickups.

Still obese...if they could loose 1000lbs, the mileage would be alot better...

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Still obese...if they could loose 1000lbs, the mileage would be alot better...

Then get the Enclave, Acadia or Outlook trio. A thousand lbs lighter and 5-7 mpg better gas mileage. The only way to lighten a BOF SUV is to get rid of a lot of optional equipment. Including things like airbags traction control etc. In many parts of the world you can buy a barebone BOF SUV without virtually any option including stereo and A/C. But I don't think that will sell in the USA

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Still obese...if they could loose 1000lbs, the mileage would be alot better...

QFT

Then get the Enclave, Acadia or Outlook trio. A thousand lbs lighter and 5-7 mpg better gas mileage. The only way to lighten a BOF SUV is to get rid of a lot of optional equipment. Including things like airbags traction control etc. In many parts of the world you can buy a barebone BOF SUV without virtually any option including stereo and A/C. But I don't think that will sell in the USA

Not Exactly True. Most of the weight for a vehicle comes from the BODY and its underpinnings. To achieve the safety standards and rigidity with less stronger material, which is cheap, you have to put more of that material which increases the weight.

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Still obese...if they could loose 1000lbs, the mileage would be alot better...

and then they would not be trucks. what is hard to get about that?

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The current SUVs gained close to 300-350lbs over the previous versions. Granted the older ones had lesser equipments. But if GM starts using lighter material on a mass level, the economy of scales will prevent giving GM too much cost infation per vehicle.

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there is only a few ways to lighten a truck. weaker frame is one. If you reduce the size of the vehicle too, but the size of this class of vehicle is defined. You can use high strength steel, but it costs more. You can take weight out of the engine and driveline and suspension, but you are risking toughness and durability issues. Vehicle electrics and crash equipment you need and its tough to reduce that.

Explain to me how something wussy like an Audi Q7 or a VW Toureg weighs so much, considering how small and useless they are and they aren't even tough guy trucks.

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there is only a few ways to lighten a truck. weaker frame is one. If you reduce the size of the vehicle too, but the size of this class of vehicle is defined. You can use high strength steel, but it costs more. You can take weight out of the engine and driveline and suspension, but you are risking toughness and durability issues. Vehicle electrics and crash equipment you need and its tough to reduce that.

Explain to me how something wussy like an Audi Q7 or a VW Toureg weighs so much, considering how small and useless they are and they aren't even tough guy trucks.

Well, at least a Touareg can do reasonably well off-road. And, being built in Germany, they seem to hold up better than lesser VWs.

But then, a Suzuki Samurai or Sidekick will easily go a lot of places you can't take a Touareg. And the concept seems to be working pretty well for the Jeep Wrangler (even in its ludicrous Unlimited four-door form). There's something to be said for having lighter feet on the trail.

Jeep proved back in 1984 that unibody designs can be outstanding and durable trail performers, simultaneously providing good fuel economy and strong performance. How that has been so quickly forgotten (ignored?) in the two decades since is beyond me.

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