Last week, I attended Lexus Family Safety Camp in Pasadena, California. Lexus hosted a group of mommy bloggers to test drive and learn about the safety and technology in their 2010 line of cars.
I’m not an automobile aficionado, so I definitely learned a lot from the professional drivers, auto engineers and of course, marketing people from Lexus.
My understanding is that the Lexus Family Safety Camp was one of their responses to the problem of the Lexus GX 460 being put on the “do not buy” list of Consumer Reports this past April due to instability issues because they could roll over on sharp turns. Lexus quickly resolved the problem: the stability-control function was malfunctioning. Yeah, that makes sense. Lexus fixed it. Consumer Reports has since lifted the “do not buy” ban and the GX 460 is back on the market. And I got to drive it! (I got the car up to 40 MPH and when I hit the inch and a half of sand, I was still able to make a very fluid turn around a bunch of pylons in the Rose Bowl parking lot. I felt like I had walked in the boots of Luke Duke.)
A lot of the other bloggers who were there on the same day as me have already written about the safety features here, here and here. (You could also Google “Lexus Family Safety Camp” and get more information from even more bloggers.) I’m going to focus on the technology in the Lexi (Lexuses?) – that’s what interests me.
Lexus Enform is an OnStar-like service from Lexus: there is assistance 24/7 whether you get in an accident, have your car stolen or are looking for directions to the nearest hot croissant. It works with or without the navigation system, although if you’re getting a Lexus, you might as well spring for the nav. Best yet, it works hands free so you can keep your hands on your steering wheel while you do all of the things you need to do. Lexus Enform can even beam directions to your navigation system while you are en route, leading you off to the nearest manicurist and then leading you back to your route.
If you’re a Type A personality, you could even set up your routes on your navigation system from your personal computer ahead of time and then beam it to your car. (You know who you are.)
The car also has blue tooth which allows you to make voice activated phone calls hands free and even to change the channel on your radio or turn on the air conditioning, so you don’t have to take your eyes off the road.
That’s a lot of safety. As far as the safety flaw that put Lexus on the “do not buy” list, my instinct is that if they show the appropriate amount of contrition, responsibility and ability to solve the problem (pay attention BP!), I figure that human beings err and we need to have some understanding of that.
The Lexus Enform service costs $139/year. On Star costs $199/year, but gets you into your car if you lost your key. Lexus cars are so smart, they won’t allow you to lock your key in the car. Take that, OnStar.