CD Test Drive: 2004 Lexus GX 470

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Apr 2, 2004.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Review and photos by Grant Yoxon
    April 2, 2004

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    In the automotive vernacular, Lexus is synonymous with luxury. Off-road and heavy-hauling are not words one normally finds in the same sentence with Lexus. Until now.

    Enter the Lexus GX 470. With seating for eight, as much as 2,513 litres (88.7 cubic feet) of cargo space, and V8 power, the Lexus GX 470 fills the price gap between the mid-size RX 330 and ultra-luxury LX 470, and gives luxury SUV buyers a Lexus with real off-road and towing ability.

    While the RX series helped make Lexus the best selling luxury brand in North America, blending the cargo-carrying and all-weather versatility of an SUV with the performance and comfort of a luxury sedan, it did not offer some potential customers the off-road durability and towing capability that they needed.

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    The ultra-luxury LX 470 is a capable off-roader, but with a base price of $100,400, it is priced well beyond most buyer’s means (or the desire of any reasonable person to go exploring off-road). This was obvious in the sales figures. In 2003 Lexus sold 4,636 RX 330s (base price $49,900) in Canada, but only 154 of the much pricier LX 470 models.

    The GX 470 went on sale in January and to date, Lexus has sold about 140 of the new SUV, which has a base price of $66,800. An Ultra Premium Package that adds a navigation package, rear back-up camera and rear DVD entertainment system lists for $73,100. Lexus expects to sell as many as 1000 GX 470s this year.

    The GX 470 is based on the Toyota 4Runner SUV and shares its body on frame construction, 4.7 litre V8 engine (optional on the 4Runner) and full-time four-wheel-drive system. But the Lexus is several notches above the 4Runner in standard equipment, and luxury and convenience features.

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    As well, the GX 470 is built in Lexus’ Tahara plant in Japan, where the LS 430 and GS 430/300 sedans are built. This factory was named by J.D. Power and Associates as the best automotive manufacturing plant in the world in 2002.

    The smaller Lexus RX 330, with its V6 engine and unibody construction has a towing capacity limited to 1,587 kilograms (3,500 pounds). The GX 470 has nearly double the towing capacity - 2,948 kg (6,500 lbs.) - which will appeal to people who need to pull a fairly large boat or trailer.

    The 4.7 litre V8 produces 235 horsepower at 4,800 r.p.m. and 320 pound-feet of torque at 3,400 r.p.m. Eighty per cent of peak torque - 256 lb.-ft. - is available at just 1,100 r.p.m. - a bonus for both towing and acceleration. The smooth running, quiet engine moves the 2,150 kg (4,740 lb.) GX 470 briskly in both standing start and passing situations. Fuel consumption is respectable for a vehicle of this size - 15.7 litres per 100 kilometres (18 miles per gallon) in the city and 11.6 L/100 km (24 mpg) on the highway. The V8 will run on regular unleaded fuel, although premium unleaded is recommended for optimum power.

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    A five speed electronically-controlled automatic transmission provides nearly seamless shifts. A dash-mounted switch permits second gear starts improving traction when conditions warrant.

    A truckload of dynamic handling technology helps make the GX 470 a smooth runner on the road as well as a capable performer off road.

    To enhance on road ride, comfort and driving characteristics, the GX 470 is equipped with adaptive variable suspension damping (AVS), a computer-controlled system that continuously adjusts shock absorber damping rates to improve ride comfort and handling. The system also helps control squat and dive. A console switch enables the driver to select among four preset modes, ranging from ‘comfort’ (soft) to ‘sport’ (firm). Within these preset ranges, AVS will select from 16 different settings, depending on feedback from sensors that monitor wheel speed, engine rpm, steering wheel movement, brake application and vertical body motion. The rougher the road, the firmer the setting.

    A rear air suspension provides automatic load-levelling and allows the driver, using a console switch, to raise the vehicle for added off-road clearance or lower it to allow easier entry and exit, or to hook up a trailer.

    The GX 470's full-time four-wheel drive system is the heart of a ‘no compromise’ approach to on- and off-road capability. The system uses a Torsen torque sensing centre differential and operates in four-wheel drive continuously, providing 40 per cent of the engine’s power to the front wheels and 60 per cent to the rear wheels when both axles have equal traction. During steering manoeuvres, this distribution can change to 29 per cent front/71 per cent rear, to enhance vehicle tracking through curves. When the rear wheels slip, the Torsen differential can change the ratio to 53 per cent front/47 per cent rear to control slippage. The centre differential can also be locked with a 50/50 power distribution.

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    On the highway, the GX 470 provides a comfortable, compliant ride. Only rarely - in strong crosswinds, for example - does it feel truck-like.

    High and low ranges for the transfer case, coupled with a low transmission gear, allow the GX 470 to crawl up steep slopes or ease over obstacles.

    While the average buyer of the GX 470 may be more interested in the vehicle’s towing capability and extensive comfort and convenience features, the SUV is extremely capable off-road, as we found during a recent press preview. Part of the off-road course involved climbing and descending a steep gravel hill and traversing a pond with water deep enough to cover the GX 470's running boards and exhaust.

    To keep from sliding down the hill too quickly, a downhill assist control (DAC) allows the vehicle to descend at a set rate of speed without intervention from the driver. DAC works in both forward and reverse gears. Another off-road assist, hill-start assist control, keeps the vehicle stationary while starting on a steep or slippery incline.

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    To complete the technological wizardry, the GX 470 is equipped with a number of active safety features including anti-lock brakes, brake assist, electronic brake force distribution, vehicle stability control and active traction control. This latter system distributes power to wheels with traction by controlling the brake fluid pressure to a slipping wheel, providing a similar effect to that of a limited slip differential.

    Passive safety features include three point seat belts and head rests for all seating positions, driver and front passenger multi-stage airbags, front seat-mounted side airbags, and first and second row roll-sensing side curtain airbags. In serious off-road situations, the vehicle’s side air bag curtains can be disconnected to prevent inadvertent inflation.

    Whether on road or off, the Lexus GX 470 owner will get to their destination in comfort.
    Standard equipment includes leather seating and real birds eye maple trim, power-adjustable, heated front seats (10-way driver/4-way passenger adjustable), two driver memory system, power tilt and telescoping wood and leather wrapped steering wheel, automatic climate control and third seat rear air conditioning, rear seat audio controls, power moonroof, rain sensing windshield wipers, towing package and colour keyed roof rack.

    A marvellous, 14-speaker Mark Levinson audio system with in-dash six disc CD changer and steering wheel controls is also standard.

    A seven-function trip computer includes an altimeter and barometer
    , as well as the expected average and current fuel consumption, range, average speed and elapsed time.

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    Instrumentation includes large easy to read Optitron electronic gauges, with white lettering and red dials on a black background, digital clock and outside temperature.

    Our test vehicle included a $6,300 ‘ultra luxury’ package that added a navigation system with voice-activated controls and rear back-up camera, and rear seat DVD entertainment system with two wireless headphones. The DVD player is built into the centre console and can be controlled with a remote control. With this package, the CD changer moves to the glove box.

    While the rear seat entertainment system will be appreciated by young travellers, the location of the drop down screen, behind the sunroof, is a bit close for adult eyes.

    The third row seat is also a place that is more youngster-friendly. Access to the third row is gained by pulling a lever on the 60/40 split folding second row seat. The seat back folds and the seat flips up in one motion. Still it takes a bit of effort to get into the third row and leg room is just adequate.

    With the third row in place, cargo capacity is very limited. But the 50/50 split rear bench seats can be folded flat, folded up to the sides or removed entirely. When the second row seats are folded down and the rear seats removed, the GX 470 will hold 2,513 litres (88.7 cu. ft.) of cargo.

    Whether for hauling cargo, towing a boat, venturing off the beaten path or just cruising the freeway, the Lexus GX 470 has what it takes to do the job and do it in style.

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    Technical Data: 2004 Lexus GX 470

    Base price $66,800
    Options $6,300 (rear seat DVD entertainment system, two sets of wireless headphones, and Navigation system with backup camera)
    Price as tested $73,100 plus delivery charge and taxes
    Type four-door, 8 passenger luxury SUV
    Layout Longitudinal, front engine, four-wheel drive
    Engine 4.7 litre V8, 32-valve
    Horsepower 235 at 4,800 r.p.m.
    Torque 320 ft.-lb at 3,400 r.p.m.
    Transmission 5-speed auto
    Drivetrain: Full-time four-wheel drive with torque sensing, locking centre differential, high and low ranges
    Tires P265/65R17 with full-size spare and alloy wheel
    Curb weight 2,150 kg (4,740 lbs.)

    Wheelbase 2,790 mm (109.8 in.)
    Length 4,790 mm (188.2 in.)
    Width 1,889 mm (74 in.
    Height 1,895 mm (74.6 in.)
    Ground clearance 210 mm (8.3 in.)
    Towing capacity 2,948 kg (6,500 lbs.)

    Cargo space behind second row seat, 1,238 litres (43.7 cu. ft.)
    behind front seats, 2,513 litres (88.7 cu.ft.)
    behind third row, 374 litres (13.2 cu. ft.)
    Fuel consumption City: 15.7 L/100 km (18 mpg)
    Highway: 11.6 L/100 km (24 mpg)
    Warranty 4 years/80,000 km
    Powertrain warranty 6 years/110,000 km

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  2. Chris87

    Chris87 flatoutperformance.com

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    Styling = old and busted
    235hp from a v8 = weak sauce

    and I can't believe that it has a high and low range transfer case. :rofl:
     
  3. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    GX470, LX470 > Anything Jeep makes, or practically anything else for that matter.
     
  4. Chris87

    Chris87 flatoutperformance.com

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    Don't get me wrong here, they are defineatly pimp, but they were uber-pimp about 7 yrs ago..and the price seems to be semi-reasonable now. :bigthumb:

    They are not >* tho. :fawk:
     
  5. ihrs

    ihrs OT Supporter

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    they are quick
     
  6. anomaly

    anomaly If you weren't around for the original HA.net spli

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    I saw one on the road the other day, I had no idea they were that expensive though.
     
  7. ihrs

    ihrs OT Supporter

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    thats in Canada... remember... $1US = $11tybillion Canada
     
  8. Jim Lahey

    Jim Lahey OT Supporter

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    ooooooooooo ibjeepcrew
     
  9. Dr. Woo

    Dr. Woo Guns don't kill people

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  10. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    I'd take it over a VW Touring-egg too.
     
  11. Homan

    Homan Unconquerable OT Supporter

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    I was comparing the interior dimensions of this and the LX and this actually has more room, except for the side space
     
  12. Jujharoo

    Jujharoo New Member

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    :rofl:
     

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