When the luxury sport-utility craze hit North America with full force around the year 2000, several premium car companies were caught with their hands in their pockets, completely unprepared for the onslaught that was to come. Automakers such as Acura and Infiniti were initially at a loss as to how they could quickly market a full-size SUV that would be able to capture a slice of the very profitable pie that was being dangled right in front of their faces. It seemed as though the entire segment would be dominated by manufacturers who were able to successfully adapt their existing large truck platforms into high feature sport-utility vehicles.
One particularly well-positioned automaker was Lexus. Parent company Toyota had never stopped investing in their Toyota Land Cruiser platform, and after decades of production its reputation as a world-beating off-road king had trickled down into an impressively high number of sales to families content to make use of it as a minivan-replacement instead of a Baja racer. While the Land Cruiser had in recent years featured a number of comfort-oriented options that made it one of the more upscale SUVs on the market, Lexus felt that there was room for improvement, and they borrowed the vehicle's platform to create the Lexus LX 450 in 1996. After some initial growing pains, the LX 450 evolved into the LX 470, a much improved model which still captured the essence of the Toyota Land Cruiser but in a package that was much more palatable to the wealthy demographic Lexus was pursuing.
The Lexus LX 470 was perfectly timed to ride the wave of full-size SUV sales that had swept over the entire car industry, and it became one of the high water marks of the entire sport-utility phenomena. SUV aficionados were impressed with the level of utility provided by the vehicle, in terms of both its towing capacity and its prodigious ability off the beaten path. City dwellers saw the LX 470 as the perfect urban assault vehicle, a safe, luxurious tank that could protect their families from the rigors of daily driving while providing a commanding view of the road and a ton of cargo space to haul as many soccer balls as a team might possibly need at practice.
This article focuses on the 1998 - 2007 Lexus LX 470, the best used full-size sport-utility vehicle to have been produced by the Japanese luxury company.
1998 - 2007 Lexus LX 470
The 1998 - 2007 Lexus LX 470 features styling which some might label brutal, but it is certainly more refined than the Toyota Land Cruiser it is based on. A re-worked front fascia, new headlights and more rounded edges help to soften the utilitarian look of the LX's Toyota origins, giving the SUV a sort of quiet dignity. The LX 470 makes an excellent counterpoint to the Chevrolet Suburban and the Ford Expedition, exerting the same amount of strength and muscle without the crippling length.
The Lexus LX 470 is favored with a 230 horsepower, 4.7-liter V-8 engine that also produces 320 lb-ft of torque. This allows the vehicle to tow up to 6,500 lbs, which is more than enough to handle a boat or camping trailer during fun weekend excursions. In 2006, the engine was massaged in order to boost output by 40 horsepower and 12 lb-ft, making this the year to target for those who enjoy a more responsive throttle. The 32-valve engine found in the LX 470 was a rarity when it was first introduced, and Lexus was one of the first companies to insist upon investing in the technological development of its truck motors instead of relying on older pushrod designs. Each edition of the SUV uses a 5-speed automatic transmission and comes with full-time four-wheel drive.
Cargo space in the 1998 - 2007 Lexus LX 470 is marginally larger than the RX 330 crossover vehicle, coming in at 90 cubic feet. However, this 8-seater blows the smaller SUV away when it comes to passenger capacity, despite the fact that the vehicle is actually shorter than the company's full-size sedan. Voice-controlled DVD navigation is optional on later models of the truck, and all LX 470's come equipped with supremely comfortable leather seats, power rear quarter windows and enough rear seat room to keep complaints to a minimum when transporting a full complement of passengers.
The 1998 - 2007 Lexus LX 470 is a used full-size SUV that helped to define the entire luxury segment, and its winning design makes it worthy of a test drive from anyone interested in a powerful and capable passenger truck.