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LEXUS WITH A NEXUS

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 Thu, Apr 20, 2006

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

HIGH TONE SUV By HAROLD OSMER

Piloting the Lexus GX470 is bit like driving around in your good clothes. You know what I'm saying-when you put on your best suit and tie you instantly stand a little straighter, mind your manners, and use a napkin. The GX470 has few peers and resides comfortably at the top of the SUV class in terms of refinement, comfort, and utilitarianism. Standard equipment includes power adjustable variable-heated front leather seats with memory function, dual zone auto climate controls (with anti-dust filters), bird's eye maple wood trim, power tilt steering wheel, and a host of other handy items you would have to select and pay for individually had you gone with another SUV. The GX470 provides all that with a base price $46,535. Our model had three additional items from a short option list. The Navigation/Mark Levinson Audio package includes a simple to use navigation system, rear camera (automatically engages when shifting into reverse) with steering wheel voice command button, Bluetooth, and Mark Levinson 14-speaker 240 watt Premium Audio System with multi-disk CD changer located in the glove box. That's just one of the options and you might well imagine that space will not allow us to detail the remaining two.

SUVs by nature tend to be tall, narrow vehicles and the GX 470 is no exception. The underlying platform is shared with the Toyota 4-Runner, but all similarities end there. Though useful and flexible like it's lesser brethren, the GX470 is by all measures a luxury vehicle. The fit and finish of materials are worthy of the Lexus name. Alas, we did not attempt any rollover maneuvering. 263 horsepower doesn't sound like much with today's 300HP threshold, but when coupled to a 5-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission, the GX470 accelerates smartly from a standing start or virtually any rolling speed. The electronic throttle control system offers positive, predictable engine control. Full time four wheel drive allowed the Lexus engineers to develop a degree of handling stability into the GX470 that would be a compromise with part-time systems. Downhill Assist Control can be had with touch of a button, should you decide to take the GX470 onto steep terrain. Our test vehicle was agile and reassuring on both city and freeway routes. The GX470 handled so well that it took a bit of familiarity miles before my driving style adjusted/relaxed to the point of trusting the vehicle to do what it was designed to do.

That said, there's always someone on the road who doesn't pay attention and when that guy hits a GX470, multi-stage dual front airbags, front seat-mounted airbags, and front/rear side curtain airbags will deploy in rapid fashion (you already know about wearing your seatbelts, right?). ABS brakes via four huge ventilated disks stopped our tester faster than we originally thought possible. SUVs are not my favorite type of transportation. I tend toward either a car or truck and have a general distrust of automotive indecision as represented by an SUV. But for anyone interested in purchasing a luxury vehicle, strong consideration should be granted the GX470. Outward visibility exceeds any car, the controls perform very well, and its sheer Lexusness make for a terrific buy. SUMMARY JUDGMENT A whole lotta Lexus in genuine SUV clothing.

For more information about Lexus products, go to www.lexus.com. SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2006 Lexus GX470 5-door SUV Price: Base $46,535, as tested $53,825 Options include: Navigation/Mark Levinson Audio Package ($3,050), Rear Seat Entertainment System ($1,560), Third row seat with rear air conditioner ($2,030) Engine type: 4.7L EFI V8, Double overhead cam, variable valve timing, Electronic Throttle Control System Horsepower: 263 @ 5400 rpm Torque: 323 lb.-ft @ 3400 rpm Drive configuration: Full-time 4 wheel drive Transmission type: Electronic 5-speed automatic, fulltime 4WD 3.72:1 limited slip axle Suspension: Front: Long spindle double wishbone with coil springs, gas pressurized shocks, stabilizer bar Rear: Four-link with rigid axle, air-spring-type shock absorbers with sway bar Wheels and tires: Front: 17-inch aluminum wheels, P265/65SR17 Mud & Snow tires Brakes: 4-wheel ventilated discs with ABS variable gear power rack-and-pinion steering Overall length/wheelbase: 182 inches/109.8 inches Overall width: 74 inches Overall height: 74.6 inches EPA mileage estimates City/ Highway: 15/19

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