Full 2006 Lexus GX 470 Review
What's New for 2006
There are no significant changes to the Lexus SUV, though new SAE engine testing procedures have resulted in a slight drop in the amount of stated power for the V8.
The GX 470 is Lexus' third SUV and is bracketed in size and price by the entry-level RX 330 and premium LX 470. Thanks to its luxurious cabin and excellent road manners, this is a fine luxury SUV and certainly one of the best available. As with most Lexus vehicles, the GX 470 shares a platform with a Toyota product. In this case, the cousin happens to be the 4Runner. That Lexus chose the 4Runner to base its GX on is your first clue about this vehicle's intended mission. This is a traditional body-on-frame truck design, not a car-based unibody, thereby implying that the Lexus GX 470 can be quite accommodating in its ventures off the beaten path. The implication is backed up by a full-time four-wheel-drive system, generous suspension travel and a host of electronic aids.
Luxury accoutrements haven't been forgotten, however. Standard features include leather seating, genuine bird's eye maple wood trim, power-heated front seats, automatic climate control, a moonroof, rain-sensing wipers, one-touch up-down side windows and a power tilt-and-telescope steering wheel with integrated audio and cruise control buttons. The standard audio system has an in-dash six-disc CD changer and 11 speakers. It is hard to find fault with the Lexus GX 470. Among luxury midsize SUVs, its strengths are many while its shortcomings are few. Certainly, it will cost you plenty to buy and, like all truck-based SUVs, it will cost you plenty at the gas station -- money that might be difficult to justify if you don't need all of its capability. But for anyone in the market for a premium SUV that offers equal parts luxury, on-road refinement and off-road capability, the 2006 Lexus GX 470 is an excellent choice.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The Lexus GX 470 is a truck-based, four-door luxury SUV. With the optional third-row seat, it can accommodate up to eight passengers. Standard features on the base model include 17-inch wheels, heated outside mirrors, illuminated running boards, leather seating, bird's eye maple wood trim, heated and power-adjustable front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, an in-dash CD changer, a moonroof, one-touch up-and-down side windows and a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. The optional Sport Package adds unique exterior trim and wheels, as well as a Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS), which is a computer-controlled suspension system designed to smooth out the ride and improve handling. Inside, the Sport Package provides black bird's eye maple wood and graphite metallic trim. Other options include a 240-watt Mark Levinson premium audio system and a DVD-based navigation system with a rear backup camera and voice recognition technology.
Powertrains and Performance
The only available engine is a 4.7-liter V8 that makes 263 horsepower and 323 pound-feet of torque. It's connected to a five-speed automatic that applies continuous power to all four wheels. Should a tire start to slip, the GX 470 automatically redirects torque to the wheels with the most grip. A number of features, such as a two-speed transfer case and a hill descent feature, ensure that the Lexus GX can take on off-road trails without much difficulty. Properly equipped, the GX can tow up to 6,500 pounds.
The Lexus GX 470 comes standard with four-wheel antilock disc brakes with BrakeAssist and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD). It also has traction control, a stability control system and a tire-pressure monitoring system. Front side-impact and front and rear head curtain airbags are standard. In IIHS frontal offset crash testing, the GX 470 earned a rating of "Good," the highest.
Interior Design and Special Features
The interior design of this Lexus SUV is warm and luxurious with rich bird's eye maple inlays and soft leather upholstery. While seat comfort is good for first- and second-row passengers, the optional third-row seat is for children only. Unlike in some other SUVs, the third-row seat does not fold into the floor but its 50/50 halves can be folded and secured upright on either side of the cargo bay. Or, you can remove them entirely. Cargo capacity measures 49.7 cubic feet behind the second row. The GX 470's high stance detracts from rearward visibility, but the optional rear backup camera solves that problem.
Acceleration is ample for a luxury SUV, and the engine's smooth, quiet operation surpasses most other V8s in its class. Thanks to its standard adaptive suspension, the 2006 Lexus GX 470 delivers a luxurious ride and stable handling both on- and off-road. Even when the AVS is set in "sport" mode, though, the standard GX doesn't feel particularly sporting, so if sharper handling on pavement is a priority, consider ordering the Sport Package to get the beneficial KDSS.