Despite uncertain fuel prices and a trend to smaller cars Toyota is going bigger and more powerful with its all-new 200-Series LandCruiser.
Complete with an all-new body, the luxury version of the all-new Toyota LandCruiser that was unveiled at the 2007 New York motor show is shaping up to be a technological tour de force.
Badged the Lexus LX570 - the name it will be given in Australia - the LX570 is essentially a LandCruiser with some unique styling touches and a lot more luxury gear, including all sorts of electronic gadgets and driver assistance aids.
But the overall shape and bigger body is almost identical to that of the next generation of Toyota’s off-road flagship, the LandCruiser (to be called the 200-Series, which replaces the current 100-Series).
The all-new LandCruiser arrives in Australia in November 2007, with the LX570 expected a few months later.
As a way of benchmarking, the LandCruiser-derived Lexus LX570 is some 10cm longer and 5cm taller than the outgoing LandCruiser, creating one of the biggest off-roaders available in Australia.
The extra exterior dimensions create noticeably more space in the cabin, according to Lexus.
Like the current LandCruiser and Lexus LX470 (which the LX570 will replace) the car seats eight people across three rows.
Under the bonnet, a new 283kW 5.7-litre V8 will be standard fare on the LX570, combined with a six-speed automatic transmission.
That engine is not expected to be offered initially in the LandCruiser. The Cruiser will instead get a tweaked version of the current 4.7-litre V8.
However, most LandCruisers (but likely not the Lexus LX570) will come fitted with a new twin-turbocharged V8 diesel, which is said to deliver massive torque combined with diesel economy.
The new 4.5-litre diesel engine is tipped to produce more than 200kW of power and a thumping 650Nm of torque.
And, if you’re looking to tow, the LX570 is claimed to be able to lug around almost 3.9 tonnes.
Early details of the LX570, however, don’t include two key details - the car’s weight or its fuel consumption, two things likely to have environmentalists screaming.
Given the LX570’s extra equipment and size, there’s a good chance the LX570 will weigh more than the LX470 it will replace, which is already a hefty 2525kg.
To look at, the LX570 retains the basic and boxy overall shape of the current LandCruiser.
But there’s a smoother nose and bigger tail lights as well as a fresher feel to its look.
Still, there’s little doubt the car will look at home in the Outback, where so many LandCruisers are used.
But the Lexus version gets sleeker headlights in an effort to distinguish it from the yet-to-be-seen LandCruiser, which Drive sprung testing last year.
Other differentiators to the basic LandCruiser will be equipment levels, with the LX570 loaded with luxury gear.
When it arrives early next year the LX570 will be available with a 19-speaker sound system. It also has a built in iPod-style hard-drive to store up to 2000 songs.
The LX570 also comes with a fridge, parking assistance system, a powered tailgate, a keyless start system, active headlights to peer around corners, lashings of leather and woodgrain trim and Lexus Link, a telematics system that can help choose a favourite restaurant or warn emergency services of the location and severity of a crash.
Standard safety equipment includes 10 airbags; dual front airbags, a knee airbag for each front -seat passenger, seat-mounted side airbags and curtain airbags all the way to the third row of pews. There’s also a stability control system and a pre-colllision system, which Lexus claims is a first for the luxury 4WD category.
There are also cameras in the grille and under the passenger mirror, allowing the driver to project images on to the colour screen on the dash.
But one of the biggest questions is how the LX570 - and its LandCruiser cousin - will perform off-road.
The LX570 comes with a new height-adjustable active suspension system - developed by West Australian company Kinetic - which raises by around 10cm when low range is selected.
The electro-hydraulic system features a system called Active Height Control and Adaptive Variable Suspension, which helps reduce leaning through corners by up to 30 per cent.
The LX570’s suspension - now independent front and rear - also lowers at freeway speeds to improve stability and fuel economy.
The LandCruiser is expected to get a unique suspension system, which Toyota isn’t talking about for now.
For more off-road prowess, the LX570 gets a new Crawl Control feature, which is essentially a low speed cruise control system that works with the active limited slip differentials (using the traction control system to provide an action similar to a limited slip differential) to maximise traction.
Lexus has appears to have done away with the clunky second gearlever to select low-range gearing, instead opting for buttons that simplify selection.
Courtesy: Toby Hagon, drive.com.au