2004 Lexus GX 470

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2004 Lexus GX 470
Available in 1 styles:  2004 Lexus GX 470 4dr AWD shown
Asking Price Range
Estimated MPG

15 city / 18 hwy

Expert Reviews

    Expert Reviews 2 of 2


In an age of so-so sport utility vehicles and crossovers that are a little of this and not a lot of that, give the Lexus GX 470 credit: It is a luxury SUV that hardly waffles on the issue.

No high-riding wagon here. No car-based sedan platform in this Lexus parking lot.

The midsize, four-door luxury GX 470 is the hardball answer for an industry accused of quickly becoming too soft around the edges. It is based on traditional truck engineering complete with a rough-and-tumble body-on-frame construction.

What does that mean, in everyday language? You can take it on the highway or high-tail it out to the hills. Either way, you don't have to worry about getting stuck somewhere you shouldn't.

Knowing the lineage, the GX's persona is really no surprise. It shares most of its engineering with the Toyota 4Runner, which should say enough about Lexus' intentions. The fact the GX arrives with a rugged, full-time four-wheel-drive system should say enough about what your intentions could be.

Introduced just last year, the GX 470 is Lexus' third SUV, slotted in size and price between the entry-level RX 330 and the premium LX 470.

The best part? No need to sacrifice what you've come to expect in a Lexus. That means a smooth ride, a soft interior and only the kind of coddling you'd expect from a Lexus. All added together, Lexus provides a potent combination, one we'll call athletic and luxurious; the best of both (on and off-road) worlds.

On the athletic side, the GX 470 is powered by a meaty 4.7-liter V-8 and a five-speed automatic, the only powerplant offered. The engine is the sole V-8 in Toyota's truck lineup, providing the vigor needed for any adventure. Rated at 235 horsepower, it gives plenty of go off the stoplight and isn't shy about trucking up the off ramp.

It handles and maneuvers like it is smaller than its XL size would indicate but it has the cargo room (especially with the optional third row not on board) to swallow a sheet of plywood.

But know this: It is not as powerful as a Lincoln Aviator (302 horses) or even an Acura MDX (265 horsepower) - two major competitors in its class. But it does spin out 80 percent of its torque at just 1,100 rpm, and that means it's ideal for making the most of its 6,500 pound/2,948 kg towing capacity, or good enough for a family-size pleasure craft or camping trailer.

When it comes to towing, Lexus proves it isn't fooling around. A two-speed transfer case for low-end towing and a hill descent feature - to slow the vehicle to a safe speed on a downhill drive - ensure the GX can hit the trail as well as the road.

Lexus guaranteed the GX could handle the tough stuff by implementing a rear air suspension system that continuously adjusts all four shock absorbers. And rear adjustable Height Control lets the driver choose the ground clearance that best suits the conditions to ford a stream.

Ford a str eam? In a Lexus? Get serious. No one is going to take this thing out to the Back 40, at least not without some caviar on board.

And on that luxurious side, the interior of the GX 470 shows there are plenty of the Lexus accruements that will comfort all eight passengers on board (when equipped with the optional third row). The standard features are what you'd expect in a Lexus, including: leather seating; maple wood trim; power-heated front seats; heated outside mirrors; automatic climate control; a moonroof; one-touch up-down side windows; and rain-sensing wipers.

As a bonus, the standard audio system has an in-dash, six-disc CD changer and 11 speakers. But you easily can upgrade to a 14-speaker, 240-watt Mark Levinson premium system that will blow the doors off (if not your ear drums.) There's also an optional rear air conditioner when you add the third row option, a DVD-based navigation system (with the Levinson audio) and a DVD entertainment system for rear passengers.

New for '04, safety even plays a bigger share of things. The GX has a number of safety upgrades, including a roll-sensing feature for the side-curtain air bags, a tire-pressure monitoring system and an optional rear backup camera for those vehicles with the navigation system installed.

Mileage can be a little tough - 15 miles per gallon in the city - and price can be a little high, but in a sea of SUVs, and SUV wannabes, it is hard to find fault with the GX.

In many ways, it is the best of both worlds: a little country and a little rock and roll; a little athletic and a little luxury. The GX is a midsize sport utility vehicle in the premium market that offers seating for eight and 4x4 capability.

It is on-road stability and off-road capability with all of the Lexus trimmings. It is a ride with no compromises.

And in a crossover world, isn't that getting harder to say?

2004 Lexus GX 470

Rating: 3

High gear: It might be based on the Toyota 4Runner, but the GX 470 has a personality all its own. It offers more space and power than the RX 330, while remaining nimble on its feet and manageable in the parking lot.

Low gear: One engine is the only choice, and that V-8 comes in at a lower horsepower rating than some of the competition. With the third row on board, space can start to get a little tight and price a little high.

Vehicle type: All-wheel-drive, front-engine, five-door, eight-passenger SUV

Key competition: Lincoln Aviator, Acura MDX, Cadillac Escalade

Base engine: 235 horsepower, 4.7-liter V-8

Standard safety equipment: Four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes; traction control; stability control; tire-pressure monitoring system; front and side-impact air bags; side-curtain air bags with rollover sensor

Wheelbase: 109.8 inches

Length: 188.2 inches

MPG rating: 15 city/18 highway

Manufactured: Japan

Warranty: Basic warranty is four years/50,000 miles

Base price: $45,900

Price as tested (including destination and delivery): $55,555

    Expert Reviews 2 of 2

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