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2002 Lexus LX 470 Review- Driving Impression

Posted in Project Vehicles on August 1, 2002 Comment (0)
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2002 Lexus LX 470 Review- Driving Impression

Looks can be deceiving. Take for instance the 2002 Lexus LX 470, which at first glance may cause you to assume that it's just another one of those status-symbol SUVs that have flooded the market recently. If this were your assumption, you'd be incorrect, because the reality of the LX 470 is that it's a darn capable four-wheel-drive vehicle. During our recent experience with this SUV we drove it in some pretty challenging terrain to prove that to ourselves.

And why shouldn't the LX 470 be capable? It's based on Toyota's flagship SUV, the luxurious, proven, and able Toyota Land Cruiser, which has demonstrated its capabilities to us time and time again.

A silky-smooth 4.7L engine, the same as is found between the framerails of the Land Cruiser, powers the LX 470. We found that while not a speed demon, the engine, which generates a respectable 230 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque, provides enough power to adequately pull the 5,104-pound truck both on and off the highway. Interestingly, this engine creates 80 percent of its peak torque at an amazingly low 1,100 rpm, which is comparable with the torque curve on some big-block and diesel engines. Fuel mileage was consistent with EPA ratings. We averaged 12 mpg in stop-and-go driving over the course of four tanks of fuel.

Ride quality is adjustable via a center-console-mounted adjustment knob that controls the stiffness of the suspension. There are also switches that allow for Second-gear starts as well as a standard/power mode for the transmission. Ride quality is adjustable via a center-console-mounted adjustment knob that controls the stiffness of the suspension. There are also switches that allow for Second-gear starts as well as a standard/power mode for the transmission.

Gear changes are managed by a four-speed automatic. This is an electron-ically controlled transmission, and it's adjustable via two center console-mounted switches that offer either Second-gear starts or a standard/power mode. We observed that there was no noticeable difference between the standard and power modes when we tested the 2002 Land Cruiser equipped with the same transmission in the June '01 issue of Four Wheeler, and we found the same to be true with the LX 470. Perhaps the difference would be most obvious when pulling a trailer-a test we couldn't do because even though our test vehicle came equipped with a Trailer Preparation Package, it didn't come equipped with a trailer hitch.

The four-wheel-drive system in the LX 470 is simple, yet complex. It's simple in that it's a full-time system that splits power 50/50 front-to-rear, and simple in that the driver can easily shift the transfer case into 4-low via a basic, center-console-mounted lever. But it's complex due to the numerous computers and systems used for the Active Traction Control System. This system employs both brake and throttle intervention to control wheelspin. This is great stuff for the novice, but a bit aggravating to the grizzled veteran who is used to total control over his vehicle. It does work well in most circumstances, however. To test its operation, we did things to the LX 470 that the average owner probably never will. In one test, we traveled across a frozen, deeply rutted farm road toward the quarry walls of the Secret Illinois Test Facility and let the computers do their thing as we effortlessly climbed the snow-dotted walls. As we climbed upward, we could feel the Active Traction Control System engaging and disengaging the rear brakes to trigger the new-for-2002 locking rear differential to propel us forward with nary any wheelspin.

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One of the amazing aspects of the LX 470 is that if offers a luxury-car ride, both on and off the highway, thanks to a hydropneumatic Adaptive Variable Suspension. This system integrates a semi-active damping system that responds to road conditions, driver input, and vehicle speed. It constantly adjusts the shock absorber damping rate to provide the best balance of ride comfort and handling. Up front, the suspension is independent, with lower torsion-bar-type double A-arm and antiroll bar, while the rear is comprised of a solid axle riding on a four-link coil-spring suspension. The suspension performs admirably, offering very good wheel travel. In addition, a center-console-mounted ride-height switch offers low, normal, and high settings. When the "high" mode is selected, the LX 470's front approach angle is improved from 30 to 32 degrees, and the rear approach angle is improved from 23 to 26 degrees. This makes a respectable pair of angles even better, and we found the system to work quickly and flawlessly even when the temperature was hovering around zero degrees Fahrenheit.

The underside of the LX 470 is clean, with very few protruding components, which means you have less to get hung up on. The front suspension is independent, with torsion bars, double A-arms, and an antiroll bar. The rear is a 4-link with coil springs, antiroll bar, and a solid axle. The underside of the LX 470 is clean, with very few protruding components, which means you have less to get hung up on. The front suspension is independent, with torsion bars, double A-arms, and an antiroll bar. The rear is a 4-link with coil springs, antiroll bar, and a solid axle.

Outwardly, the LX 470 may not look as flashy as some of the other luxury utes on the market, and as a matter of fact, it really didn't turn a lot of heads due to its lack of double-throwdown chrome and adornments. Reactions from interested parties we encountered were rather muted compared to other vehicles we've tested, but that all changed when critics opened the Lexus' doors and pulled in a healthy breath of leather aroma and gazed on the lavish interior that features real walnut trim. What do leather and walnut have to do with 'wheeling? Absolutely nothing, but there's something to be said for quality and comfort, and the Lexus offers plenty of both.

The interior of our tester had a mind-boggling collection of high-tech devices and convenience items, including the standard DVD-based navigation system that also doubled as a control panel for the optional high-end Mark Levinson audio system and the automatic climate-control system. While all of the electronic items were a bit daunting at first, it only took a short time before we were fluent in their operation. On the road, the LX cabin isolates its occupants from just about everything except luxury, and even under hard acceleration the only engine sound discernable was a growl from the exhaust pipe.

We found that the LX 470's reserved appearance and high-end luxury belie the fact that it can actually handle a fair amount of off-highway travel, and on the road it rides and handles outstandingly. Quality and capability has its price however. Our tester stickered at $63,710. 'Nuff said.

Check It Out If:
You want to 'wheel in luxury.

Avoid It If:
Your budget looks like ours.

Specifications


GENERAL
Vehicle model 2002 Lexus LX 470
Base price $61,855
Price as tested $63,710
Options as tested Mark Levinson Audio System


ENGINE
Type DOHC V-8
Displacement (liter/ci) 4.7L/284.6
Bore x stroke (in.) 3.70 x 3.31
Compression ratio 9.6:1
Intake EFI
Mfg.s power rating @ rpm (hp) 230 @ 4,800
Mfg.s torque rating @ rpm (lb-ft) 320 @ 3,400
Mfg.s suggested fuel type Premium


DRIVETRAIN
Transmission A343F four-speed automatic
Ratios
First 2.804
Second 1.531
Third 1.00
Fourth 0.753
Reverse 2.393
Axle ratio 4.30:1
Transfer case Full-time two-speed
Low-range ratio 2.49:1
Crawl ratio 30.0:1


SUSPENSION/AXLES
Front IFS, double A-arm, torsion bars, antiroll bar
Rear Four-link solid axle, coil springs, antiroll bar


STEERING
Type Engine-speed-sensing power-assisted rack-and-pinion
Turns (lock-to-lock) 3.8
Ratio 19.8:1


BRAKES
Front 12.2-inch vented disc with 4-piston calipers
Rear 12.8-inch vented disc with rear proportioning valve
ABS Yes


WHEELS/TIRES
Wheels (in.) 16 x 8
Tires 275/70 R16 Michelin LTX {{{M}}}/S


FUEL ECONOMY
EPA city/highway 13/16
Actual combined, city/highway/trail 12


DIMENSIONS/CAPACITIES
Weight (lbs.) 5,401
Wheelbase (in.) 112.2
Overall length (in.) 192.5
Overall width (in.) 76.4
Height (in.) 72.8
Track f/r (in.) 63.8/63.6
Minimum ground clearance (in.) 9.8
Turning diameter, curb-to-curb (ft.) 39.7
Approach/departure angles (deg.) 30/23, 32/26
GVRW (lbs.) 6,860
Maximum towing capacity (lbs.) 6,500
Seating 8

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