Re-Engineered Lexus SUV tested by Horse Trailer Safety Experts
Southern Pines, NC (March 9th, 2009). Lexus has re-designed and re-engineered their most substantial SUV, the LX470, into a brand new design for 2009, giving it enough chutzpah to be a serious contender in the horse trailer market. The new LX570 has had both a chassis and power plant redesign along with a cosmetic facelift and a handful of additional smart safety features over and above the previous generation LX. All these improvements are combined with a towing package that can handle a two horse trailer with tack says Tom Scheve, who along with his wife Neva, have authored numerous articles and books on horse trailer safety. With the help of representative Sean Alazraki from Johnson Lexus of Durham North Carolina, the Scheves put the new LX570 to the test to prove its value managing serious loads.
“I’m pleased to make a LX 570 available for these tests” said Sean Alazraki. “We discussed a plan to use a two-horse dressing room EquiSpirit trailer and conduct a full test drive, paying careful attention to control, power, and maneuverability.” Sean continued that some of the newly re-engineered features include a factory installed hitch, increased towing capacity (now 8,500 lbs.), and a standard 7-pin plug that include electric brake controls for most boat, horse or travel trailers. The hitch receiver is now recessed into the bumper, so that the bumper may safely absorb impacts that other receiver designs may interfere with. Also, the receiver is completely covered when the hitch is removed, both to maintain a clean appearance, and to remove an obstacle that might bruise a shin when one is working around the open tailgate.
According to the Scheves, many horse owners often prefer to have an everyday vehicle also perform as a towing vehicle, but until recently not all SUVs have been up to the job. Certain requirements are a must if the SUV is to do the job safely, warn the Scheves. According to Neva, a number of factors have to be considered when judging a tow vehicle to be safe, but the main criteria boils down to three basic principles: pulling/braking capacity, tow vehicle weight, and wheel base.
“Neva and I have started reviewing and testing SUV’s for pulling horse trailers and I was excited to learn that Lexus had reengineered the LX.” says Tom Scheve. “The Lexus commitment to quality, safety and customer satisfaction are the same principles that Neva and I adhere to within the horse trailer industry.”
The first step of testing was to look at the towing capacity and vehicle weight. According to the Scheves, most standard two-horse trailers (with or without dressing rooms) weigh from 5,000 lbs. to 7,500 lbs. This particular series of tests was performed with an EquiSpirit two-horse XL trailer with dressing room, weighing 3,600 lbs. The weight of two large horses, each at 1,500 lbs, was used to estimate a typical loaded trailer weight of 6,600 lbs. “The towing capacity should be 10% to 15% more than the total weight of the loaded trailer since we are dealing with live, shifting weights,” says Neva, “since the pulling capacity of the LX570 is 8500 lbs., it is well within the parameters of having enough power.”
The next basic criteria that the Scheve’s look at is the vehicle weight. “The weight of the tow vehicle is something that many don’t take into consideration,” says Tom Scheve. “There are some full size trucks weighing in the high 4000 lbs. range that are rated to pull twice their weight. That’s like the tail wagging the dog. The LX 570 weighs nearly 6,000 lbs. It’s a very good weight for handling 5,000 to 7,500 lbs.”
In analyzing the third criteria, the wheelbase, the shorter LX570 wheelbase can be compensated for with the use of a weight distribution system. “The longer the wheel base, the more stable the tow vehicle will be in regards to preventing the front end from “floating” as a result of the tongue weight,” says Neva. “That’s why we always recommend a properly installed independent weight distribution system on SUVs.” Lexus also requires the use of a weight-distributing hitch for all towed loads that exceed 5000 lbs to assure that braking force can be distributed to all four vented disks. In fact, the 2009 LX has a dramatically improved braking system. The LX570 now includes a Multi-terrain Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) that can detect the type of surface the vehicle is on and adjusts the ABS to help improve stopping distance and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) that modulates the amount of brake force delivered to each wheel based on the driving condition.
During testing, Tom Scheve hooked up the weight distribution system and suggests a longer pin for the slide-in ball mount so that it clears the space within the recessed compartment. Tom also noted that the seven-pin plug is located under the bumper and one will need to kneel down to insert it.
Johnson Lexus of Durham and EquiSpirit will display the new LX570 fully hitched-up to an EquiSpirit two-horse trailer at the Stoneybrook Steeple Chase on Saturday, April 4th. As the official vehicle of the 2009 StoneyBrook Steeple Chase, Lexus will also be supplying an assortment of automobiles as transportation for race officials. For more information, contact Sean Alazraki at 1-888-72-Lexus or Tom Scheve of EquiSpirit Trailers at 1-877-575-1771.
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