Auto Electronics

UNDER THE HOOD OF THE 2006 LEXUS LX470

Imaging systems are among the safety and luxury features on the Lexus LX470. The LX's cameras address the view in front of and behind the vehicle.

The Lexus Night View system uses a charge-coupled device (CCD) camera mounted inside the vehicle at the top of the windshield in front of the inside rear view mirror and two near infrared lamps mounted in the front bumper. The driver activates the system by a button on the dashboard and sees the results in a 5.8-inch-wide image projected onto the lower portion of the front windshield.

Designed to provide an indication of objects beyond the projected light of the low-beam headlamps during nighttime driving, the Night View system provides illuminated images of what is ahead of the vehicle out to a distance of nearly 500 feet — more than three times the range of the low beams (Figure 1). Instead of simply detecting infrared waves from sources that reflect or radiate heat, such as people and animals, the system's computer processes the near-infrared (in the 0.78 µm to 1.5 µm wavelength) light reflected from objects providing a more complete view of the surroundings and avoiding a ghost-like image on the display. Cold weather and the vehicle's air conditioner are among factors that can limit the effectiveness of the system. Initially offered in the 2002 model, Night View is still a $2,200 option, manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP), in 2006.

REARVIEW VIDEO

The LX also has a CCD camera with a wide-angle lens mounted at the rear of the vehicle above the license plate (Figure 2). This unit provides a video image on the DVD-based navigation system's display. The back-up camera is relatively easy to add to a vehicle that has a navigation system. This luxury item is part of the Navigation System/Mark Levinson audio system package that adds an MSRP of as much as $3,050 to other Lexus vehicles but is standard on the LX470. The DVD navigation screen on the dashboard displays the full-color image from the video camera when the transmission is in reverse. Lexus offers the navigation system with backup camera on five of its eight models in 2006, including the GS, IS, LX, GX and RX. In 2005, four Lexus models had the back-up camera.

Toyota also offers the back-up camera with the navigation system in the Prius, so the system has expanded from the luxury models into at least one that has an economy image. Meant as an enhanced rearview for the driver, Lexus admonishes, “The back-up camera does not provide a comprehensive view of the entire rear area of the vehicle.”

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