With the addition of the all-new '03 GX 470 this year (based off the all-new Toyota 4Runner platform, both of which competed in our '03 Sport/Utility of the Year), Lexus is not about to ignore its top-of-the-line model, LX 470, with just a few mid-generation improvements. Although much of the LX is unchanged (remaining one of the quietest and capable 4x4 SUVs sold in the U.S.), power output for the DOHC 4.7-liter V-8 is up to 235 horsepower, due in part to better intake and exhaust smoothing and routing; however, it's the addition of a new, close-ratio five-speed automatic transmission that makes the vehicle seem quicker than its 9.5-second 0-60 time would indicate (practically identical to '02).

New technology for this year includes a unique, near-infrared driving aid, called "Night View," and a sophisticated speed-sensing, variable-ratio rack-and-pinion-steering unit that adjusts both firmness and quickness based on various electronic sensors. These changes, in combination with the smarter stability control and brake computer, makes the new LX 470 almost three mph faster in our 600-foot slalom, with five-percent-better braking performance, stopping the rather hulkish SUV from 60 mph in 126 feet (respectable for 5500 pounds).

Exterior styling remains unchanged, with the exception of a more Lexus-consistent look to the projector headlights and grille, and a new 18-inch-wheel option with 275/60 low-profile tires.

With a few new inside options like a Mark Levinson audio system and new DVD entertainment system (that you can play on the front Nav screen when in "Park"), as well as some of our favorite carryover technology like the height-adjustable suspension and "Soft-to-Firm" ride control, the new LX 470 looks to continue its solid presence in the Luxo SUV market. But don't expect any breaks, with pricing to start around $65,000, moving north quickly with various options.