If a companys two sport utility vehicles are producing attractive sales, then why not try for three? That appears to be the philosophy of Toyotas luxury division, Lexus, which intends to send a third SUV to its dealerships in December 2002. The price is expected to be in the range of $45,000 to $50,000. Lexus has a sales target of at least 20,000 units per year.
Introduced in January 2002 at Detroits North American International Auto Show, the midsize GX 470 is positioned in size, price and capabilities between the companys car-based RX 300 and the premium-luxury LX 470. Based on an all-new, separate-body platform, the GX 470 promises the luxury appointments and workmanship of a Lexus sedan. The GX 470s full-time four-wheel-drive (4WD) system and its 4.7-liter V-8 engine are the same components used in the larger LX 470.
Lexus emphasizes dynamic handling technology, which includes antilock brakes, Active TRAC traction control, Vehicle Skid Control electronic stability system, Brake Assist and electronic brake-force distribution (EBD). A new Downhill Assist Control system becomes active on steep grades while driving off-road. Side curtain-type airbags are among the passive safety features.
Billed by the automaker as contemporary and aggressive, the styling of the GX 470s monochromatic exterior is intended to exhibit a clear resemblance to other Lexus vehicles. Integrated fender flares and illuminated running boards are used. Green-tinted front glass has ultraviolet-ray protection.
The GX 470s dimensions are a bit smaller than those of the LX 470. The GX 470s 109.8-inch wheelbase and 188.1-inch overall length are 2.4 and 4.3 inches shorter, respectively, than the LX 470s. Slightly lower than its costlier companion, the GX 470 is also 2.4 inches narrower and weighs about 4,600 pounds. A power sunroof and body-colored roof rack are optional. A rear tonneau cover will keep valuable items concealed. Alloy wheels hold 17-inch tires.
An automatic-leveling air suspension is installed at the rear. Adaptive Variable Suspension damping is intended to smooth the ride by continuously altering shock-absorber damping at each wheel according to the road surface, vehicle speed, driver steering and braking inputs, and vertical vehicle movement. Adaptive Height Control raises the vehicle for extra clearance in offroad terrain and lowers it for easier entry and exit.
The GX 470 carries five occupants and can seat as many as eight when equipped with an optional third-row seat. Standard luxury features include automatic climate control, leather-upholstered seating and trim, a premium audio system with an in-dash six-CD changer, steering-wheel audio controls, and an overhead console with an integrated HomeLink transmitter that can operate compatible garage, gate, home-lighting and home-security systems. A memory system works with the front seats, outside mirrors and steering-wheel position.
An optional, factory-installed DVD entertainment system provides rear-seat entertainment. Its high-resolution TFT screen which is similar in quality to a high-end laptop computer screen lowers from the headliner. Additional options include rear air conditioning, a Mark Levinson audio system, a DVD-based navigation system, heated front seats and rain-sensing windshield wipers.
Under the Hood
Borrowed from the LX 470, a 4.7-liter dual-overhead-cam V-8 engine produces 235 horsepower and 320 pounds-feet of torque and drives a five-speed-automatic transmission. The GX 470 meets Low Emissions Vehicle (LEV) requirements. When equipped with the optional towing package, the GX 470s towing capacity is 6,500 pounds.
Full-time 4WD includes a center differential that splits power 50/50 between the front and rear wheels; no driver intervention is necessary. The automatic transmission includes a Low range that can be used for steep inclines when off-roading.
Side-impact and side curtain-type airbags, Active TRAC traction control and antilock brakes are included. Lexus Vehicle Skid Control system helps to control traction when cornering by making use of throttle intervention and/or individual wheel braking.
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