2003 Lexus GX470
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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 Ã‹â€ 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.
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
Price as tested with all options,
except the third row bench seat, is $44,925.00