The new Lexus GX 470 proves that this "old-fashioned" SUV-body-on-truck-frame model still has plenty of life left in it. For 2008, there are only cosmetic changes - new metallic finishes and some interior trim additions.
The GX 470, based on the Toyota 4Runner, provides comfortable seating for five. An optional third-row seat expands seating to eight, yet, as with most third rows, the space is for children. However, being a Lexus, that's no ordinary space: An optional DVD entertainment system, ranked one of the best, features a nine-inch-wide, high-resolution screen that lowers from the headliner and the third row has its own air-conditioning.
With three rows of seats in place, the GX 470 has a 13-cubic-foot cargo bay. Fold down or remove the two rear rows, and you'll find more than 77 cubic feet available. For comparison's sake, here are cargo capacities for a couple of competitors: Mercedes-Benz M-Class, 72.4 cubic feet; BMW X5, 62 cubic feet.
Up front, the driver and passenger are treated to large, comfortable, roomy seats, rich leather and bird's-eye maple trim. Gauges, instruments, and switches are typical Lexus - large, easy to read, and well labeled.
All of this comfort and roominess is motivated by a typically smooth Lexus 4.7-liter V8, which spins out 263 whisper-quiet horsepower. This power flows seamlessly through a five-speed automatic transmission that pushes and pulls (with standard full-time four-wheel drive) the GX 470 from 0-60 mph in 8.1 seconds; the GX 470's towing limit is 6,500 pounds. With its variable valve timing, the V8 earns EPA estimates of 15/19 mpg city/highway. It will run on unleaded regular, though Lexus recommends 91 octane.
Both comfortable highway cruising and true off-roading are real options due to the state-of-the-art suspension systems built into the GX 470. Variable-ratio rack-and-pinion steering adapts to the task. The standard adaptive variable suspension monitors shock-absorber damping at each wheel, and there are four driver-selectable suspension settings. The GX 470 has an optional Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System that can disengage its stabilizer bars for more suspension flexibility over any kind of off-road terrain. Also included are antilock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution, Vehicle Stability Control, Downhill Assist Control, and Hill-Start Assist Control.
Basically, the GX 470 has you covered going, coming, sideways, up or down hills and on or off road - all of this with Lexus luxury. The GX 470 represents the SUV as an automotive artform.