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1999 4x4 of the Year: Lexus LX 470

1999 Lexus LX 470

Lexus LX 470

•Super-slick transmission shifts
•Choice of suspension and height settings
•Fluorescent instrument panel

•Weight made engine doggish
•Unresponsive steering

You might think forking over nearly 60,000 smacks for an SUV makes someone a rich idiot with a poseur 4x4. Yet as we learned, there's no snootiness behind the Lexus badging. It wasted no time making us feel worthy enough to strap ourselves into its higher-than-high-end body, and it welcomed every type of terrain with unequivocal warmth.

The LX 470 was introduced as a replacement for the '98 LX 450, and only the flawless transmission and transfer case were carried over. New grunt comes courtesy of a 4.7L V-8 with a slightly smaller displacement and nearly on-a-par peak horsepower as the Jeep's V-8. But with a 32-valve mill versus the Grand's 16-valver, what happened? Why did the Lexus place fifth from the bottom at acceleration? Can you say extra baggage to the tune of 1,660 pounds! Not only was it a bit of a pig off the line, but it passed too much gas to earn high marks for mpg. Yet it was the most silent pig we've never heard-its engine and transmission were eerily quiet operators.

Also fresh for the Toyota Land Cruiser's near-twin were Adjustable Height Control (AHC) and Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS). Stance could be high, normal, or low, although once you're clocking more than 18 mph, it defaults to normal mode-good, since we could only imagine how much more body lean there could have been-and the high setting was a necessity for rockcrawling mostly because of the running boards. Despite that negative ground clearance, though, its limited slip and low gearing had it creepin' and crawlin' just about everywhere the real 4x4s went.

Pleasantly refreshing was that the AVS actually worked. Rather than offering two settings with undetectable differences, the Comfort and Sport modes proved detrimental to the Lexus' performance on freeway expansion cracks and high-speed fire-roading. Comfort offered wallow, while Sport's firmness had everyone posting illegal speeds on gravel.

Although the LX 470's interior was the nicest packaging of the 12, it required an engineering degree to figure out what every button on the dash did, and folding up the third row of seats took a meeting of the minds.

Bottom line
If you can afford it, you'll have the ultimate cushy cruiser, a surprisingly capable 4x4, and oodles of luxury.


Manufacturer Lexus
Model LX 470
Base Price $55,905
Price as Tested $57,670
Options as Tested ...Power tilt and one-touch
open/close slide moonroof with sunshade.

Type Four-cam V-8
Displacement (liters/cubic inches) 4.7/284.6
Bore & Stroke (inches) 3.70x3.31
Compression Ratio 9.6:1
Induction Type Electronic fuel injection
Fuel Requirement/Capacity (gallons) 87 Octane Unleaded
regular (91 Octane recommended)/25.4
SAE Peak Horsepower 230 @ 4,800 rpm
SAE Peak Torque (lb-ft) 320 @ 3,400 rpm

Type Four-speed electronically controlled automatic
Model A343F
Ratios First: 2.804:1; Second: 1.531:1;
Third: 1.000:1; Fourth: 0.753:1; Reverse: 2.393:1

Transfer Case
Type Full-time two-speed
Model Isen-Warner
Low-Range Ratio 2.488:1

Front Type IFS
Rear Type Solid
Hubs NA
Ratio 4.30:1

Front Double wishbone/lower torsion bars
Rear Four trailing links/coil springs/adaptive variable with height control

Type Engine-speed-sensing power-assisted rack-and-pinion
Turns Lock-to-Lock/Ratio 3.8/19.8:1
Turning Radius (feet) 39.7

Size (inches) 16x8
Material Alloy

Size P275/70R16
Brand Michelin LTX M/S

Brake System
Front 12-inch discs
Rear 12-inch discs

Advertised GVWR (pounds) 6,860

As Tested (mpg) 12.57

Standing 1/4-mile (seconds @ mph) 18.28 @ 75.55

60-0 mph (feet) 118.77

Dimensions (inches)
Wheelbase 112.5
Overall Length 191.125
Overall Width 58.5
Overall Height 71 (low setting);
72.5 (normal setting); 74 (high setting)
Front/Rear Track 63.75/63.75
Front/Rear Overhang 18.625/31.25
Minimum Front Ground Clearance 8.25