What's New for 2007
A few detail changes to onboard entertainment systems mark this midsize luxury SUV's transition into the 2007 model year. The optional navigation system has been upgraded with "fifth-generation" technology that includes voice activation for many functions, an improved display and an input jack for plumbing in devices like an iPod. The Mark Levinson Premium Audio System that resides alongside the navigation system can now play DVDs while displaying video on the navigation screen when the vehicle is parked. Additionally, the optional rear-seat entertainment system's video screen has been expanded to 9 inches wide.
Entering its fifth year of production, the 2007 Lexus GX 470 remains the brand's middle SUV offering, sandwiched between the car-based RX 350 crossover and full-size LX 470. While it's not much larger than the RX, it's built more like the LX with a full ladder frame, a stout suspension and an all-wheel-drive system that includes a dual-range transfer case. In fact, the GX shares its 263-horsepower, 4.7-liter, DOHC, 32-valve V8 and five-speed automatic transmission with the more expensive LX.
The GX 470 is based on Toyota's Land Cruiser Prado platform: the same structural and mechanical base upon which the 4Runner and FJ Cruiser are erected. It's an exceptionally capable and rugged platform that manages the neat trick of supplying excellent on-road comfort and solid off-road performance.
But just because the 2007 Lexus GX 470 shares much of its engineering with the 4Runner and FJ Cruiser doesn't mean it feels like either of them. This is a truly luxurious machine that packs all the creature comforts expected of a Lexus into its body and covers most anything any human might touch in supple, perfectly stitched leather. In fact, it's so overstuffed with luxury equipment that the dashboard can seem overrun with buttons and switches to those who encounter it for the first time. Fortunately that sense of being overwhelmed fades rapidly once the ignition key is turned, the "Optitron" electroluminescent instrument panel fires to life and the engine settles into a barely audible idle.
While the GX packs in all the gee-whiz overkill elements expected of a 21st-century luxury machine, its most impressive technology is really only apparent off-road. The dual-range all-wheel-drive system is among the very best available (the center differential is a Torsen limited-slip unit) and it's complemented by the shockingly effective Downhill Assist Control (DAC), Hill-start Assist Control (HAC) and Active-TRAC (A-TRAC) traction control systems. Throw in excellent four-wheel disc brakes with both ABS and brake assist systems and it takes real effort to get into trouble with a GX 470.
Like other Prado-based vehicles, the GX 470 is a little narrow compared to some of its competition, and the styling is disappointingly generic, but this is otherwise a solid choice for the buyer who wants (or better, needs) the ability of a traditional SUV.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2007 Lexus GX 470 is a midsize luxury SUV with a traditional body-on-frame design. It's offered in only one well-equipped trim level. 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.
Options include a Sport Package that adds a Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) and special interior and exterior trim details. KDSS is a computer-controlled suspension system designed to smooth out the ride and improve handling. The KDSS system is also available as a stand-alone option, as is a moonroof. The revised DVD-based navigation system is also an option and can be paired with the optional Mark Levinson audio system and/or a rear-seat entertainment system. A third-row seat is also optional, but it's tough to recommend since room back there is so skimpy.
Powertrains and Performance
All GX 470 models are powered by a 263-horsepower, 4.7-liter V8. The only transmission is a five-speed automatic that feeds a standard dual-range transfer case and full-time four-wheel-drive system. Acceleration is about average for this class of vehicle -- zero to 60 mph takes about 8 seconds. Properly equipped, the GX can tow up to 6,500 pounds.
The front airbags are supplemented by front seat-mounted side airbags and roll-sensing side curtain airbags for the first- and second-row passengers. Traction control, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and anti-rollover dynamics are also part of the safety system.
Interior Design and Special Features
The GX 470's interior is overwhelmed by the luxury shoved inside it. As a proper Lexus must, it features elegant leather seating surfaces and sweetly detailed dash and door panels featuring genuine bird's-eye maple wood inserts. The Optitron electroluminescent instrumentation is a Lexus signature, and everything from electrically heated and power adjustable sideview mirrors to a 10-way power adjustable driver seat are standard.
With car-based crossovers now the standard for midsize luxury SUVs, the 2007 Lexus GX 470 can feel like something of a throwback to the mid-'90s. But this is a refined, well-thought-out SUV with abilities that can't be simulated in a car-based machine. If you simply want luxury while commuting, there are better choices. But if you want your luxury while on safari or crawling along a rock outcropping, it doesn't get much better than the GX.