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2003 Lexus GX470

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Wed, Dec 18, 2002

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

LEXUS GX470: Luxurious Adventures On or Off Road

By HARVEY SCHWARTZ All Photos & © by Harvey Schwartz

With the introduction of the all-new 2003 GX470, Lexus now has three premium sport utility vehicles in its lineup. The new GX470 offers the best combination of size, power, performance, comfort, luxury and safety.  Whether you are traveling on the road or off-road, you will arrive at your destination non-fatigued, fresh and ready.

The Lexus GX470 combines the luxury appointments and workmanship of Lexus sedans with an innovative full-time four-wheel drive system, augmented by an arsenal of dynamic handling technology.  The GX470 delivers the high level of ride comfort expected of a Lexus, thanks to a stiff perimeter frame and high-tech suspension.  The GX470 has available seating for eight adults, and the latest Lexus safety technology ˆ e.g., seat belts with pretensioners, front/side-airbags and side-curtain airbags for the rear seating passengers.

The GX740 design draws a clear link to the Lexus family of vehicles with contemporary and bold features such as the signature Lexus front grille/fascia, integrated fender flares and running boards.  Dimensionally, the GX470 is slightly smaller than the premium LX470, with its 109.8-inch wheelbase and 188.2-inch length - 2.4 inches and 4.3 inches shorter respectively.  The GX470 is also 2.4 inches narrower and slightly lower than the LX470.  It is the right size.  I am 6 ft., 2 inches tall, and I fit very nicely into the front or rear seats with plenty of leg and headroom.

Interior design and content continue the Lexus tradition of blending incomparable fit and finish with unmistakable luxury.  The GX470 has eight-passenger seating when the optional rear seat is ordered.  Two standard rear fold-down seats fit nicely at the corners but do take up rear cargo capacity.  To keep second/third row passenger comfortable, there are air-conditioning ducts mounted at the side of the headliner, bringing cool or warm air to the rear section.  Rear passengers also benefit from the factory-installed DVD entertainment system, using high-resolution thin film transistor (TFT) LCD screen that lowers from the headliner.  The Lexus exclusive Mark Levinson high-end audio system with 14-speakers can turn the GX470 into a concert hall on wheels.  The DVD based Lexus Navigation System even allows rear-seat passengers to control the system via a remote control while simultaneously viewing the rear entertainment drop-down screen what is being displayed on the front screen.

That's plenty of comfort and entertainment but what about power and performance?

The GX740's aluminum alloy, four-cam, 4.7-liter V8 engine produces 235 hp and 320 lb. ft. of torque. It has a towing capacity of 5,000 lbs with the optional towing package.  The 4.7 liter V8 produces 80 percent of its peak torque at just 2800 rpm.  The 5-speed automatic transmission provides seamless shift quality with logic that holds gears on inclines for power and on descents for increased braking - very helpful when towing a trailer or boat.  Lexus equipped the new GX470 with a unique four-wheel drive system that provides distinct benefits on-and off-road, without the compromises two environments often demand.  The total off-road management of the GX470 makes it one of the most capable vehicles in its category with an array of dynamic handling technology including-ABS brakes, Active TRAC (traction control), Downhill Assist Control (DAC), Hill-start Assist (HAC) Brake Assist (BA), Vehicle Skid Control (VSC), Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD), and Adaptive Variable Suspension damping (AVS).  The full-time four-wheel drive system itself uses a Torsen torque center differential that splits the power 40 percent to the front and 60 percent in the rear under most conditions. It changes the ratio as needed, based on steering angle and wheel slip.  Changing to a 29 percent front and 71 percent rear distribution ratio during steering maneuvers helps to enhance vehicle tracking through the curves.  If rear wheels spin, the differential can change the ratio to 53 percent front and 47 percent rear to control slippage.  The Torsen center differential also makes the vehicle less prone to slippage caused by sudden changes in road surface conditions, such as driving through a puddle or ice patch. 

The transmission's low range mode allows the GX470 to negotiate steep road slopes.  Downhill Assist Control (DAC) augments the low-speed descending ability of low-range by holding the vehicle to a targeted speed with no intervention from the driver.  Active TRAC (traction control) provides the traction benefit of locking front and rear differentials, but with less weight.  The system can brake a slipping wheel, which functions to transfer torque to the wheels with better traction.  In addition, the new Hill-Start Assist Control (HAC) system provides additional control for off-road driving by helping to keep the vehicle stationary while starting on a steep incline or slippery surface.

On road, the GX470 provides the same dynamic handling technology as found in other Lexus vehicles.  The standard Vehicle Skid Control (VSC) system helps control loss of lateral traction while cornering on slippery or dry road surfaces.  The system uses throttle intervention and/or individual wheel braking to help control any discrepancy between where the driver is steering and where the vehicle is heading.  The brake assist (BA) system can help the driver boost braking power in panic stops.  Brake assist is designed to determine if the driver is attempting emergency, and, if the driver has not stepped hard enough on the pedal to engage the ABS, the system supplements the applied braking power.  Electronic brake force distribution (EBD) utilizes the ABS and distributes proper brake force between the front and rear wheels according to driving conditions.

Lexus choose body-on-frame construction for the new GX470 because it can provide the high carrying capacity customers in this segment favor.  Independent front suspension and rear air suspension with self-leveling deliver a smooth on-road ride without compromising rugged hauling and off-road capabilities.  Adaptive Variable Suspension damping (AVS) will endow the GX470 with the kind of on-road smoothness expected of an SUV wearing the Lexus badge.  The proven AVS system enhances the ride quality by continuously changing each wheel's shock absorber damping rate in response to road surface conditions, vehicle speed, driver steering and braking inputs, and even vertical vehicle movement.  AVS also helps improve road feel, accomplishing this feat by temporarily increasing shock absorber stiffness in transitional maneuvers.  In addition, AVS provides anti-dive and anti-squat control.  The rear Adaptive Height Control provides flexibility for the GX470's many uses.  A high setting provides for an extra 1.6in. of clearance when traversing challenging terrain.  The Adaptive Height Control also will lower the vehicle 1.2in. from its neutral setting for easier cargo loading of the standard P265/65HR17in. tires mounted on 17X7.5in. alloy wheels providing a good balance between quiet ride, responsive on-road handling and off-road capability.

The variable-gear rack and pinion steering system makes it easier to maneuver the GX470 in very tight place.  The tooth spacing on the gears of the rack become wider toward the end of the rack, reducing driver effort at large steering angles.

Standard luxury features in the new Lexus GX470 include automatic climate control, leather seating and trim, steering wheel audio controls, memory system for the driver seat, steering wheel position (with power tilt/telescope), and outside mirrors, heated front seats, and overhead console with integrated HomeLink transmitter.  Additional options include power sunroof, rain-sensing windshield wipers, wood/leather steering wheel/shift knob, body-color roof rack, rear tonneau cover for privacy in the rear cargo hold and the new Lexus Link where at the press of a button on the overhead console you can instantly talk to a Lexus representative to answer any question or emergency that might arise.

The all-new Lexus GX470 is a very well-equipped, premium quality, high-performing sport utility that you expect from Lexus.  I would, though, like to see even more power to match the 300hp produced by the new 4.6-liter DOHC V8 in the new Lincoln Aviator. I'd also like to see an independent rear suspension for a more compliant and controlled ride in the turns and when riding over uneven road surfaces. A third row seat that disappears into the floor and expands the rear cargo capacity would also be nice. And lastly, I'd like to see a sensor to warn you when objects are behind you when backing up.

Price as tested with all options, except the third row bench seat, is $44,925.00

 

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