2008 XL7 New Car Test Drive
Introduced last year, the Lexus LS 430 represents the third generation of this full-size flagship. The LS 430 is a direct descendent of the ground-breaking LS 400 that appeared in 1990. The LS 430 continues unchanged for 2002.
Many consumers and experts alike regard the Lexus LS 430 as the new benchmark for high-tech luxury in a meticulously crafted sedan. It offers every luxury amenity you could want, plus a few we would never have imagined. It presented a very real example of everything technology makes possible, with systems that out-think and out-perform lesser cars and, in some cases, lesser drivers. Its functional aerodynamics and exacting quality control lead the rest of the world industry.
At once a deluxe limousine and high-performance touring car, the LS 430, delivers quick acceleration and agile handling along with features designed to take the work out of driving. The Lexus LX 470 has been the benchmark for first-class luxury and ultimate off-road capability.
The big Lexus now faces a totally new Range Rover engineered by BMW and a less expensive but powerful Cadillac Escalade, and its bland exterior design is beginning to show its age.
However, this remains a wonderfully luxurious and highly capable vehicle. LX 470 is powered by one of the best V8s in the business and offers crisp handling, as well as a luxurious ride. The interior is elegant, well equipped, and the kind of environment you wish your house had.
It also comes from Lexus, which boasts the best quality, durability and reliability in the business, along with retailers dedicated to customer satisfaction. The 2008 Suzuki XL7 is a large mid-size SUV that offers space for three rows of seats with sufficient room for adults to sit in reasonable comfort in the third row. The name XL7 denotes that this Suzuki can be equipped to carry up to seven passengers. Fold all the passenger seats down, including the front one, and there's a generous amount of cargo space.
All-new for 2007, this latest XL7 is longer, wider and more powerful than the previous model. If its look seems faintly familiar that's because it's based on the same platform as the Chevrolet Equinox and Pontiac Torrent models from GM, though it shares no sheetmetal with them. The XL7 is assembled in Canada alongside the Equinox and Torrent. The XL7's V6 engine is built in Japan, however.
As with other crossover utilities, the XL7 offers a much smoother ride on the highway than truck-based SUVs. All-wheel drive is available, improving traction and stability in foul weather and on dirt or gravel roads. With one of the most powerful engines in its class, the XL7 offers decent acceleration performance yet it delivers reasonable fuel economy. It's aided by its smooth-shifting five-speed automatic.
For 2008, Suzuki offers a new, more affordable base model; while adding a sunroof and other items to the list of standard equipment on the Luxury and Limited versions. When it was introduced in mid-1998, the RX 300 represented the vanguard of a new class of vehicles. More a tall car than a truck-like SUV, the RX 300 nonetheless delivered the SUV attributes most urban/suburban buyers wanted: a high seating position, generous, versatile cargo capacity, and all-weather traction. But what made it popular was its Lexus levels of quality, luxury, comfort, and quietude.
The RX 300's near-instant success quickly inspired imitators, including the Acura MDX, BMW X5, and Buick Rendezvous. Still, the RX 300 remains one of the top contenders. It delivers a smooth on-road ride, fine handling, a quiet interior and a responsive V6 engine.
RX 300 can be equipped with either full-time four-wheel drive for poor weather driving conditions, or front-wheel drive. It's not built for optimal off-road adventures. If that's what you're looking for, try the similarly priced Land Rover Discovery.
For 2002, Lexus has updated the RX 300's DVD navigation system.
The LS 430 retails for $54,405. That figure buys a premium, full-size sedan loaded with sophisticated mechanical equipment, extensive safety systems and luxurious appointments. The sole engine, a four-cam 4.3-liter aluminum V8, produces 290 horsepower and mates to an electronically controlled five-speed automatic transmission.
Opt for the aptly named Ultra Luxury Selection ($12,485) and the factory adds a list of hardware that reads like science fiction: laser-guided cruise control, a sonar-based parking guide, a navigation system that triangulates by satellites and coordinates with a DVD-powered data base, and an adaptive electronically controlled suspension that rides on air rather than springs. A fan inside the front seats circulates either heated or chilled air. Rear-seat passengers relax with their own air conditioning and air filtration system; plus heated seats, with electric seatback adjustment, memory control and a power lumbar massager. A power-operated sunscreen shades the backs of rear passenger's necks. Side-window screens are provided, but must be pulled down manually. One model is available, which retails for $61,855.
For 2002, the LX 470 gets a significant upgrade in its standard equipment: A DVD-based navigation now comes on every LX470. The system is updated with a faster computerized control unit that cuts route calculation time in half. The system covers both the United States and Canada, has detailed destination information on Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa and the Whistler resort area, and offers voice guidance in English or French. This system previously was available only as part of a $4,280 option package that included a Mark Levinson audio system. The Levinson equipment remains available as a $1,280 stand-alone option. For 2008, Suzuki expanded the XL7 line to four trim levels: base ($21,349), Premium ($23,249), Luxury ($24,949) and Limited ($27,299). The base model now comes only with front-wheel drive and only with seating for five. All-wheel drive ($1,600) is optional on the other three models. The Premium and Luxury are available in both five-passenger and seven-passenger ($1,350) configurations, while the top-of-the-line XL7 Limited features standard seven-passenger seating.
The base XL7 comes with a five-speed automatic transmission with Manumatic manual override. Standard features also include remote keyless entry; power windows, door locks and mirrors; tilt steering wheel; cruise control; trip computer with driver information center; auto on/off headlamps; black roof rails; 16-inch alloy wheels; privacy glass; overhead storage compartment; air conditioning with automatic climate control; and an AM/FM/CD stereo system with six speakers.
The XL7 Premium adds floor mats and 17-inch alloy wheels. Interior trim is woodgrain or satin-nickel, depending on upholstery color. More significantly, buying the Premium model allows you to choose seven-passenger seating and/or all-wheel drive. All three-row, seven-passenger XL7's feature Nivomat load-leveling rear suspension, rear cargo under floor storage, and rear air conditioning with separate controls.
The XL7 Luxury adds leather seating surfaces, power driver seat, heated front seats, and brushed aluminum-look trim on its bumper valances. For 2008, a sunroof, a six-CD changer, and leather-wrapped steering wheel with integrated audio controls are standard as well.
The XL7 Limited adds fog lamps, rear spoiler, upgraded roof racks with silver-colored rails and cross bars, auto-dimming rearview mirror, 17-inch chrome wheels, Pioneer premium AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 audio with seven speakers (including subwoofer), touch-screen navigation, and a remote starter. (XM Satellite Radio requires a subscription.) A DVD entertainment system with wireless headphones may be substituted for the sunroof and navigation at no cost. A new rear-vision camera ($649) is also available, and exclusive to the Limited.
The only other factory option is pearl white paint ($200), which is available on all models, even the base.
Safety features that come standard on all XL7 models include driver and passenger front airbags, side-curtain airbags for all rows of passengers, anti-lock brakes (ABS) with electronic brake distribution (EBD), electronic stability control (ESP) with traction control, and a tire pressure monitoring system. RX 300 comes in one thoroughly equipped trim level. Buyers have a choice of front-wheel drive ($33,955) or four-wheel drive ($35,705). We recommend the latter.
Four-wheel antilock disc brakes (ABS) are standard. Front and side airbags are standard along with shoulder belts with pretensioners and force limiters. All seating positions have three-point shoulder belts. Ivory-colored fabric seats are standard; leather-trimmed upholstery is optional.
The DVD-based navigation system with compass can be added as a stand-alone option ($2,000), or as part of the Navigation System Package ($5,390) that also includes leather upholstery, heated seats, a power moonroof, HID headlights and other luxury amenities. Either way, the system uses touch-screen technology, and DVD-ROM discs for map data. One DVD can help you navigate around the entire United States, making cross-country drives a snap.