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Lexus LX570 Has It All, With a Price to Match

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It can pilot the family on the open road or climb a hill and ford a stream, while cooling a couple cans of pop and a sub sandwich.

Lexus loaded its LX570 full-size SUV with just about every conceivable amenity and then added a new one for 2009: a $4,050 luxury package with a radar system that senses when a car or person, motorcycle or wall, is in your path and applies the brakes to prevent contact.

There's also adaptive cruise control that senses when traveling faster than the car ahead and regulates speed and braking to keep a safe distance.

And crawl control to limit engine speed and apply brakes over rough or slippery surfaces so the driver can focus on steering; holds itself on a hill without rolling when first started; adjusts shock settings for on- or off-road surfaces; raises itself 3 inches for off-road clearance or lowers 2 inches for easier entry/exit; has full-time all-wheel drive with a low setting for off-road excursions; and offers stability control and traction control on- and off-road.

Yet the tall SUV, weighing in at 5,995 pounds, doesn't move like a ballerina, especially in sharp corners or turns.

A 5.7-liter, 383-horsepower V-8 with 6-speed manual-mode automatic has the muscle to climb or pass without huffing, but moving nearly three tons means a disappointing 12 mpg city/18 highway. No hybrid or cylinder deactivation. For shame.

The SUV holds eight in three rows. Second-row room is very good, and the power-operated split seats motor back to accommodate legs and knees or forward to create more cargo space. Third row is tight for other than kids. Second-row seats fold and flip for access to the back, but don't attempt entry in a skirt or carrying a cane.

Cargo room is limited with the third row in use. But those seats, together or alone, power against the side walls to make way for luggage or gear.

Nifty amenities include four-zone front/rear climate control, push-button start and Lexus Link, which like General Motors' OnStar emergency satellite communication service calls for help in an accident or unlocks doors if needed. And we love the insulated "cool box" under the center armrest to hold pop, sandwiches or the kids' medicine.

A new, wide-view front and side monitor ($1,000) with cameras in the grille and under the passenger-side mirror shows what's up front and alongside on the navigation screen. But it takes time for the eye to adjust and brain to digest the split-screen input.

There's also power tailgate, backup camera, headlamp washers, voice-activated navi with real-time traffic alerts, Bluetooth phone capability, tool kit, first-aid kit, power front-seat-cushion extenders and stowage in the tailgate, under the cargo floor and in the cabin walls.

Base price is a hefty $75,705, before more than $10,000 in those nifty options.

So no free lunch, even if pop/sandwich are cooled.

2009 INFINITI G37

As the model year slips away, we tested the 2009 Infiniti G37 hardtop convertible that joined the lineup in June.

Performance and handling are exceptional. The 3.7-liter, 24-valve, 325-hp V-6 with a 7-speed automatic is swift from the light, while the sports-tuned suspension keeps radials planted no matter how sharply the road twists, turns, dips or climbs. Steering is sports-car precise. Mileage rating is 17 city/25 highway.

And there's a bonus to the potency: an all-season metal top that quickly drops and stores in the trunk, though when it's hiding there, trunk space goes from minuscule to fictional.

Good room up front, but not a car for those who need people space in back.

Heated/cooled seats, while kind to the skin, are hard on the ears, making a sound like a radio speaker spitting out static.

And while it's good that the navi provides information on congestion do the latitude, longitude and altitude readings pinpoint potholes?

Base price for the G convertible is $43,850. A long list of options pushed the sticker to a much-too-high $52,000.

2009 LEXUS LX570 SUV

Wheelbase: 112.2 inches

Length: 196.5 inches

Engine: 5.7-liter, 383-hp V-8

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

MPG: 12 city/18 highway

Price as tested: $87,835

(Add $825 for freight.)

The sticker:

$75,705 Base

$4,050 Luxury package with pre-collision system, adaptive cruise control, center-console cool box, SmartAccess key card, 20-inch alloy wheels, leather and Bubinga wood interior trim

$3,300 Mark Levinson audio system with 19 speakers

$1,990 DVD entertainment system with wireless headphones

$1,000 Wide-view front and side monitoring system

$900 Lexus Link emergency communications

$890 Heated/cooled seats

PLUSES:
(+) Smooth ride
(+) Comfortable, roomy cabin
(+) Sliding second-row seat
(+) Power, folding third-row seats
(+) Good on- or off-road

MINUSES:
(-) No hybrid version
(-) No cylinder shutoff
(-) Stiff price
(-) Low mileage

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Jim Mateja can be reached at transportation@tribune.com.
(C) 2009 TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.

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