Unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show, the SLV previews an imminent entry by Lexus into the heart of the Sport Utility market. Based on Camry mechanicals the SLV promises to be a kinder, gentler SUV much like the very hot RAV 4. Unlike the bronco busting LX450 which is based on the genuine all terrain mechanicals of the venerable Land Cruiser, the SLV features 4 wheel independent suspension instead of live axles. The sophisticated all wheel drive system features a 4 speed automatic, a viscous coupling limited slip center differential and a torque sensing Torsen¨ rear differential. So while not outfitted for the really punishing duty the LX450 can handle, the ride should be much smoother and the grip outstanding when off road. Power is handled by a version of the Camry/ES300 4 cam , 3.0 liter V6 fitted with the new continuously variable valve timing system which boosts low end torque and top end power.
The interior, which is executed to the usual tasteful Lexus standards features on board satellite navigation and a sophisticated mobile telephone set up promising a bagload of convenience and emergency services such as, emergency service notification in event of an air-bag deployment, an SOS button, stolen vehicle tracking, concierge services and a personal computer/internet interface. Cool ! A clever rear seat slides and folds in several ways to configure the passenger /baggage equation.
We'd expect the production car to look pretty close to the concept car and arrive with most of the mechanical specs intact. The high tech stuff may be show car whizzery, that is not quite ready for production. Expect the SLV to really redefine this segment and lure many buyers out of their bumpy, lumpy, gas hog SUVs. Ford, Chevy and Chrysler had better be ready to answer this challenge or they will find buyers deserting their current offerings like antelope scattering when a panther is on the prowl.