The Lexus GX 470 is positioned between the automaker's car-based RX 330 and the premium-luxury LX 470. Equipped with full-time four-wheel drive, the GX 470 promises the luxury appointments and workmanship of a Lexus sedan.
Roll-sensing side curtain-type airbags became available during 2004, and a rear backup camera was offered with the optional navigation system. A Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System also became available. With KDSS, hydraulic control acts upon the stabilizer bars to reduce roll stiffness in response to changing conditions.
For 2005, the GX 470 added a new Sport Package that incorporated KDSS, smoked front and rear lenses, a dark graphite finish on the 17-inch alloy wheels and black bird's-eye maple wood trim inside. That same year, all optional navigation systems added Bluetooth wireless capability.
The V-8 engine gained variable valve timing for 2005, bumping it up 35 horsepower to 270. The 2006 GX 470 remains largely unchanged, with new exterior colors and some interior refinements. Power ratings have dropped slightly due to new testing standards by the Society of Automotive Engineers, though performance is the same.
The styling of the GX 470's exterior is intended to resemble other Lexus vehicles. Integrated fender flares and illuminated running boards are installed.
The GX 470's wheelbase and length are a bit shorter than the LX 470's. It is slightly taller and 2.4 inches narrower than its costlier companion. A power sunroof is standard. Alloy wheels hold 17-inch tires. Rear Adaptive Height Control raises the vehicle for extra clearance and lowers it for easier entry and exit.
Seating for five people is standard, but the GX 470 can seat up to eight occupants when equipped with an optional third-row seat. Standard features include dual-zone automatic climate control, leather-upholstered seating and trim, power-operated front seats, an in-dash six-CD changer, a leather-trimmed power-adjustable steering wheel and an overhead console with an integrated HomeLink transmitter. For 2006, the parking brake gets leather stitching.
An optional DVD-based entertainment system features a high-resolution screen. Additional options include rear air conditioning, a Mark Levinson premium audio system and a DVD-based navigation system with a rearview camera. The Digital Lexus Link system, which connects the vehicle to a communications network for security and convenience assistance -- much like General Motors' OnStar — is available for 2006. The service requires a paid subscription.
Under the Hood
For 2006, the 4.7-liter V-8 produces 263 hp and 323 pounds-feet of torque. Those numbers are down slightly from the 2005 model's 270 hp and 330 pounds-feet of torque due to new SAE testing procedures. Actual power remains the same. The engine uses a five-speed-automatic transmission, and the GX can tow up to 6,500 pounds when equipped with the optional towing package.
Full-time four-wheel drive includes a center differential that splits power 50/50 between the front and rear wheels. A Low-range mode is present.
Side-impact airbags for the front seats, side curtain-type airbags for the first and second rows, Active TRAC traction control and antilock brakes are included. Lexus' Vehicle Stability Control electronic stability system uses throttle intervention and/or individual wheel braking. Downhill Assist Control aids steep offroad descents.
The pleasant, enjoyable GX 470 shines brightest when traveling off-road. Active TRAC stays quite busy when going uphill, while Downhill Assist Control is amazing. Unless you touch the gas or brake pedal, Downhill Assist Control keeps the vehicle moving very slowly.
This sport utility vehicle rides smoothly most of the time, but it takes an occasional bump with a jolt. Other than a slight driveline drone, the GX 470 is quiet. The seats are supportive and almost as comfortable as those in the LX 470.