NEW YORK – Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.’s Lexus Div. unveils its new ’08 LX 570 SUV at the New York auto show here today with more horsepower and towing capacity.

Powered by Toyota’s 5.7L V-8 engine, also available in the new Tundra pickup truck, the mill makes 381 hp in the new LX, up from the current LX 470’s 4.7L V-8 that kicks out 268 hp.

Torque is rated at 401 lb.-ft. (544 Nm) for the LX 570 vs. 328 lb.-ft. (445 Nm) in the outgoing model. A new 6-speed sequential shift automatic transmission replaces the LX 470’s 5-speed automatic.

Set to go on sale in the U.S. early next year, the LX 570 will offer a variety of new technologies, including a 4-wheel electro-hydraulic suspension with active height control and adaptive variable suspension.

Although the current LX has an adjustable suspension, Lexus says the new system has a greater range and faster adjustment time, helping to reduce body roll and increase wheel travel. Ride height can be lowered an average 2 ins. (5.1 cm) upon exit and entry, after which the chassis returns to its normal height at acceleration.

The active height control system also lowers the vehicle at highway speeds by about 1 in. (2.5 cm) in the front and slightly more than 0.5 ins. (1.3 cm) in the rear to improve aerodynamics. Lexus says chassis roll is reduced 30% vs. the outgoing model.

The new LX’s wheelbase is unchanged, although its overall length has been increased 4 ins. (10.2 cm) to 196.5 ins. (499 cm). The interior length also increases 4 ins. to 128.5 ins. (326.4 cm), with “comfortable” seating for eight passengers.

The segment-leading Cadillac Escalade remains larger overall, but the new LX pulls ahead in towing capacity. The LX 570 is capable of pulling 8,500 lbs. (3,856 kg), more than the Escalade’s maximum of 7,700 lbs. (3,493 kg). The outgoing LX 470 tows up to 6,500 lbs. (2,948 kg).

As with all new Lexus models, the LX gets the “L-finesse” treatment, styled according to the luxury marque’s new design language. Lexus says the LX 570’s look is more “refined and dynamic” than its predecessor.

Interior features include 4-zone independent climate control, a 40/20/40 power-sliding second-row seat, navigation system with Bluetooth technology, and a 9-speaker audio system with XM satellite radio and real-time traffic service.

The new LX also is equipped with front active headrests, marking the first time Lexus has offered the new safety feature in the U.S. An active headrest flexibly protects an occupant’s head during a rear-end collision by pivoting forward at the exact moment it is needed.

A blind corner monitor is a standalone option, Lexus says.

The auto maker promises other options, including a power third-row seat, front center console cool box, illuminated scuff plates and African Bubinga wood trim.

Ward’s data shows sales of the LX 470 were down 44.2% through February, to 556 units. However, deliveries for the Large Luxury SUV segment rose 1.2% in the period to 17,021 units.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com